Digital Nativism and the Mindset List: Class of 2025
Do you see yourself as a digital native or a digital immigrant? Why? How does that impact your potential to meet the needs of your future students?
I see myself as a little bit of both, almost akin to a first-generation immigrant in the States. I am easily more adept at some things, like typing and using the web browsers, than many older adults; but at the same time, many aspects of modern technology astound me. I feel like I really need to get back up to speed with technology because kids these days are truly digital natives, and would easily get bored with more traditional lesson plans. At the same time, everything is becoming more and more automated, and I need to hone my technology skills if I ever hope to get a job in any field in the future.
What are some key points about the digital generation with which you agree? With which you disagree?
Technology is a massive assest to education. It allows teachers to teach lessons in ways that would have been completely unheard of in the past. Virtual dissections, Skype chats to partner classrooms in other countries, online journals using ‘Facebook’ sites like Edmodo, the possibilities are seemingly endless. However, I disagree with the theory that today’s children can now ‘multi-task’ effectively by using their smartphones at the same time as other activities. From a psychological standpoint, our brains simply cannot handle multiple paths of data at the same time. The popularization of handheld devices that have Internet connections really does take away from the educational sector. I don’t want to have to compete with students’ smartphones to hold their ever-shortening attention spans, and I really don’t care if I have to be ‘the lame teacher’, but in my classroom, technology will be a supplement to regular lessons.
Read “Digital Nativism” by Jamie McKenzie. Revisit what we talked about in class. Who is right? Who is wrong? What does this mean for teaching and learning in your classroom?
I felt that McKenzie’s article, which was infuriatingly written in Comic Sans, was far too harsh and cynical of Prensky’s work. I feel that both of the authors are correct in different respects to the future of digitally adept children. While Prensky did not back up his claims with enough valid evidence, he postulated some very interesting ideas about the nature of future generations-especially in the terms of the effects of violent media on children. I believe that all of these new first-person games that center around killing and violence are doing no good for the future generations. However, I side with McKenzie on Prensky’s claim that digital natives are hardwired differently than their parents. Evolution, which is what he is describing, does not take place that quickly. Children can simply use different parts of their brains in different ways. As far as teaching, we can learn something from both authors. Children in the future will be socialized differently than children in generations past, and they will perceive the world differently. An anecdote to support this point: if you asked your grandparents and your children what the relationship between a rabbit and dog is, the former would say that one chases the other, and the latter will say that they are both mammals. Both are correct, but for different reasons, and in different contexts.
1. These children have never seen the Twin Towers on the New York skyline. They have always known September 11th as a memorial holiday.
2. They don’t understand how ‘chads’ almost left the country without a president in 2000.
3. The iPod first became cool the year they were born.
4. At McDonald’s, no server has ever asked them if they wanted to ‘Supersize It!’. Of course, obesity will most likely still be an issue in 2025.
5. They have never known a world without Facebook. Friend me?