… Marc Prensky.
In fact, in 2006, we engaged Mr. Prensky to speak at the Western RCAC Conference in London. He was engaging, humourous, and left the audience talking and thinking. You couldn’t want more from a speaker. When you check the list of his past speaking engagements and his future speaking, you’ll see that he remains quite active and influential.
But, it’s not the man that I’m after today.
It was this article from 2001 that I’d like your thoughts about. It was the first time that I’d read his theories about “Digital Natives” and “Digital Immigrants”.
This was fodder for thought and conversation and you still hear and read references to it today, 15 years later.
Digital Immigrants – Basically that’s us! People that weren’t born with anything like today’s technology so we landed on the shores and are doing our best to fit in.
Digital Natives – These would be the students of today who know of no other reality than one filled with technology.
Much has been made of that. You’ve heard that some teachers just don’t bother to try to stay up to date because they haven’t had a good immigrant experience. Their “accent” is present everywhere they go so why even try?
For others, the comparison was a wakeup call to get better at their game. Heck, Colin Harris even took it as a Twitter handle – @digitalnative. – very prestigious! I wish I’d thought of that but I grew up with mail from General Delivery. It’s all new to me.
I thought that perhaps we’d put all this behind us. After all, can you name anyone who doesn’t have an email account, some social media connection, and stay connected via phone, tablet, or computer (or all of the above)? So many schools have looked forward and embraced the reality with Bring Your Own Device strategies and allow anyone in the school system to connect to the network for educational purposes.
But then I read a message from a Computer Science teacher recently that brought me back to reality.
She needed to have a particular application installed for use in her classroom but couldn’t. Like many districts, her Computer Department locks down the equipment forbidding the installation of software that isn’t on their pre-approved image. Images may be revised annually, hopefully. What does that translate to in Digital Native years? It still sends the message that someone else knows what’s good for you. “Let’s flex our muscles, beat them down, and keep them on the farm.” On the other hand, with a limited amount of software, and classes increasingly headed to the internet, it’s important to have technology available 24/7. Or at least 8/5.
So, my questions for you this Sunday morning.
- Do you, or did you ever, embrace Mr. Prensky’s premise of the Digital Native / Digital Immigrant?
- Did his work influence your approach to using technology personally or professionally?
- If you have children, would you call them “natives” and realize that somehow they embrace things differently that you?
- Can you think of staff members that have shunned technology because of their immigrant status? How are they viewed by students and the school?
Please take a moment to reply and share your thoughts.