The terms I used in the presentation – to describe most of our teachers as ‘Digital Immigrants’ and most of our learners as ‘Digital Natives’ – comes from writer Mark Prensky.
I strongly recommend that anyone with an interest in technology-based teaching and learning – no, anyone who teaches at all – should read his work. Here is a faintly damning but nonetheless thought-provoking excerpt describing characteristics of digital immigrants – i.e. us.
The importance of the distinction is this: As Digital Immigrants learn – like all
immigrants, some better than others – to adapt to their environment, they always retain,
to some degree, their “accent,” that is, their foot in the past. The “digital immigrant
accent” can be seen in such things as turning to the Internet for information second rather
than first, or in reading the manual for a program rather than assuming that the program
itself will teach us to use it. Today‟s older folk were “socialized” differently from their
kids, and are now in the process of learning a new language. And a language learned later
in life, scientists tell us, goes into a different part of the brain.
There are hundreds of examples of the digital immigrant accent. They include printing
out your email (or having your secretary print it out for you – an even “thicker” accent);
needing to print out a document written on the computer in order to edit it (rather than
just editing on the screen); and bringing people physically into your office to see an
interesting web site (rather than just sending them the URL). I‟m sure you can think of
one or two examples of your own without much effort. My own favorite example is the
“Did you get my email?” phone call. Those of us who are Digital Immigrants can, and
should, laugh at ourselves and our “accent.”
But this is not just a joke. It‟s very serious, because the single biggest problem facing
education today is that our Digital Immigrant instructors, who speak an outdated
language (that of the pre-digital age), are struggling to teach a population that speaks
an entirely new language.
The quotation comes from this article. Oops. Looks like I didn’t use correct Harvard referencing there.
We’re in the blogosphere.
Get over it.