Questions About Digital Natives

(Note: these questions are just a footnote to the essay “Funeral for a Digital Immigrant.”)

If students are digital natives, why do I keep having to show them how to add a printer?

But more to the point, what is the nature of a digital birthright if so many of the students purported to possess it are such naïve, ineffectual, and passive users of technology?

If the students are all, as Alan November said in New Jersey a few years ago, content creators now, why do I see so many of them playing games and consuming videos and other online content, and so few creating them?

And how is it possible that they are all using technology the same way, with the same effect on their brains?

Just a few years ago, we were told that learners are so individual, with their multiple intelligences and diverse learning styles, that perhaps every student should have an IEP. Are they now so monolithic that their brains, skipping a few steps in the customary evolutionary process, are all rewired alike to Apple’s specifications?

And given what we know about neuroplasticity across the lifespan, how is possible that my brain, although I was born before the official break-up of the Beatles, is not?

We cannot begin with the assumption that this (or any other) interesting model of one way to think about the effect of changing technology on all of us, teachers and students alike, is factual in all its particulars.  Unfortunately, its veracity was never up for debate. Questioning  underlying truth-claims is so…so…digital immigrant. Very pre-1980.

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About Julie Goldberg

Julie Goldberg has lived a life entirely too entangled with books. She is a school librarian, former English teacher, compulsive reader, occasional jazz singer and the author of Lily in the Light of Halfmoon. You can email her at perfectwhole@gmail.com and follow her on Twitter @juliegoldberg.
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4 Responses to Questions About Digital Natives

  1. Pingback: Funeral for a Digital Immigrant | Perfect Whole

  2. Brian Hanson-Harding says:

    I have not yet met a digital native who knows how to use a photocopier. Or is that the sort of technology found only in the Old Country?

  3. Pingback: Perfect Whole

  4. Pingback: Teach the Timeless | Perfect Whole

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