Back in September I wrote a post concerning the premise that adults, including teachers, are “Digital Immigrants” and that the students that we teach are “Digital Natives”. This terminology was coined by Marc Prensky some time back. I have used the terminology on a number of occasions myself. During the last couple of years, having worked closely with secondary school students, I have begun questioning the premise that underlies the terminology. In my original post I concluded that “perhaps they are not Digital Natives at all but simply Digital Dilettantes… they are, and I quote from a dictionary, an amateur or dabbler; especially, one who follows an art or a branch of knowledge sporadically, superficially, or for amusement only.”
Last Saturday David Thornburg wrote a post where he expresses regret that he had utilised the terms in the past. He also wrote that the terms were demeaning to educators. As he points out it is true that today’s students have grown up in a world where computers are reasonably ubiquitous but one cannot assume that this fact makes the students any more tech savvy than their teachers, or parents, for that matter.
The author of the Connectivism Blog has written an article critical of Marc Prensky’s position. He picks up on David Thornburg’s apology regarding the terminology as well. I cannot do it justice here. I strongly recommend that all interested parties read his views. He concludes “…aside from insulting an entire generation and coddling to the needs of younger learners, Prensky doesn’t provide us with a compelling model forward (other than “use digital games”).”
The author also makes a reference to “technology weariness” and “resistance to technology” among educators. He adds that hyped-up educational technology that fails the promise to deliver will only hurt future applications of these processes in teaching and learning.
I am now going to read Jamie McKenzie’s critique of Marc Prensky’s position in his article, “Digital Nativism, Digital Delusions and Digital Deprivation.” Jamie sets out, point by point, his views regarding Marc Prensky’s position.
Readers may think it curious that a teacher that readily incorporates technologies in the teaching and learning curriculum should post articles that seemingly go against the grain. Many major speakers and evangelists preach the premise that our students are the “digital natives”. I do not believe that we can make this blanket assertion for all students. I am a not alone in this belief.
I believe in a pragmatic and commonsense approach to educational technologies. [This is beginning to sound like a creed]. I have seen hundred of thousands of dollars pumped into multimedia and eLearning projects that are now idle. I have seen revenues in excess of six figures devoted to eLearning projects that are now obsolete (in under five years). I feel that is such a waste. I am yet to crystallise my approach but I essentially believe that educational technologies must only be incorporated into the teaching and learning curriuclum when it is appropriate and not simply “becasue it was there”. The application of the technology should
- exactly match the specific knowledge, skill and attitudinal outcomes
- complement, and not exclude, other tactics and strategies, traditional and otherwise