Digital Natives vs Digital Immigrants
Marc Prensky first coined the metaphorical terms Digital Natives (DN) and Digital Immigrants in his book ‘Digital Natives Digital Immigrants’ published in 2001 to talk about the vast digital divide between those born in the digital world, i.e. Digital Natives and the people of pre-digital age, i.e. Digital Immigrants who became acquainted with technology later in life. According to Bahr and Donna in their famous book ‘Millennial Generation’ where they describe digital natives or Millennial Generation or Generation Y as those born around 1982 (p.69), I think I fit in the category.
Since Prensky published his book studies have been done on the validity of the term and his claim of digital divide between the two generations. While the term ‘digital native’ conjures up images of proficient users of technology who integrate technology in all aspects of their lives, in their article: The ‘digital native’ and ‘digital immigrant’: a dangerous opposition ,Bayne and Ross (2007), found that students these days do not really engage in technology as much as we think and they mainly use it for entertaining purposes rather than as a learning tool(blogging and using wikis).
I myself do not like the metaphoric terms that Prensky has coined as it implicitly and sometimes explicitly creates a dichotomy between the two generations giving a sense of being literate and illiterate which I strongly believe is a myth.I know baby boomers who know more about technology than the so called digital natives, mainly because they are passionate about it, they want to learn and know new things and this has nothing to do with their age, on the other hand I know very passive students who are unaware of many features that the most popular social network, Facebook, can offer them, so the term Digital Native in my opinion is not that much descriptive of the students of this generation. Even according to Koutropoulos in his article Digital Natives: Ten Years After Prensky later acknowledges that the term is more of a theoretical definition by saying “by virtue of being born in the digital age, our students are digital natives by definition, but that doesn’t mean that they were ever taught everything (or anything, in some cases) about computers or other technologies, or that all of them learned on their own”.
Having said that, when reading the eight norms of net generation on the article Who are the digital natives? And what do they want? I came with the idea that due to their nature of exploring and experimenting , the new generation is not afraid of experimenting and playing with the technological gadgetry until they master it, whereas in the case of most of the baby boomers that I see like my mother, they are afraid of doing things in a new way, and are afraid of experimenting. And that is my main challenge while teaching technology to middle aged people . Besides there is another chakllange in teaching the baby boomers or sometimes the generation for me as a teacher which is trying to teach them according to their style which is sequentially while I have learned to think in parallel way.
One idea that really grabbed my attention in Prensky’s articles was the idea of using games to engage students in learning, although I think the idea serves the boys much better than the girls as Ali Carr-Chellman in her talk on TED Gaming to re-engage boys in learning puts it very well. I believe one way to enagge students these days in learning is utilizing educational games which both entertain them and teach them something of value. We can see how much time the youngsters spend gaming. why? because these games are interactive, engaging and fun. The essential compnents of a good learning environment taht have been sacrifised in our traditional education. It is time for change and tehre has been many innovative approaches taken into consideration and action in recent years thanks to those who had the courage to think out of the box!