Article: Are Digital Natives Restless?

Last week I was contacted by Jewel Topfield, a reporter from The Age newspaper, who wanted to visit my classroom to watch me teach and talk to me about how I use technology in the classroom.

Jewel and a photographer visited one of our daily reading rotations in my grade two class and had the opportunity to see how we were using  our interactive whiteboard (IWB), blogs, iPod Touches, Google Docs, VoiceThread etc.

This article appeared in The Age and the national Fairfax newspapers on Saturday 21st August.

Click here to check it out

The article is entitled “Digital Natives Restless”. While I wasn’t aware that this was going to be the theme of the article, I thought the article painted a positive picture of how technology can in integrated in the classroom. I know my class will enjoy their five minutes of fame!

There were also some really important issues raised in the article about the need for digital classrooms to become to norm and the issues that surround this.

I did however try to make it clear when being interviewed that the digital native/immigrant debate is really not black and white. While students may have less reservations about “having a go” when it comes to technology you cannot assume that students are born with (or intuitively “pick up”) the skills they need.

At the beginning of the year, I wrote a post about teaching technology “post noughties” and alluded to the importance of being explicit when teaching technology. Click here to read it.

While the newspaper article suggested that each of my students are a “digital native, someone who has never lived in a world without MP3s, mobile phones and a global information network at her fingertips.” We cannot assume that just because children are growing up with these technologies that they use them or use them well, creatively and safely. The role of the teacher in guiding technology use is more important now than ever. Teachers who cannot or will not take on this role are doing their students a disservice.

I think it is also important to mention that I was quoted in the article as saying

“McGeady says international adviser on education Sir Ken Robinson warns that switched-on, tech-savvy children switch off in a classroom dominated by teacher-led ”chalk and talk”.”

While, I still believe this is an important point to make, I was thinking aloud when trying to remember who said that in my interview and shouldn’t have mentioned the name Sir Ken Robinson as I’m pretty sure it wasn’t him. I think it was Stephen Heppell but if anyone can confirm that I’d be grateful!

Apologies to Sir Ken and Prof Heppell!

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Are “digital natives” restless? What do you think?

Digital Natives

Many people talk about the divide between digital natives and digital immigrants in today’s society. Digital natives are said to be those people who have grown up in a world of computers and 21st centuries technologies. People who are considered digital immigrants grew up before the digital age and have had to learn how to use technologies later in their life.

Personally, I think I’m borderline. Being 28, I could be considered either a digital native or digital immigrant.

This concept has implications in education as the students we are currently teaching can be considered digital natives and therefore have different learning styles to most of their teachers.

Marc Prensky is credited with coining the term digital native and has said “Digital immigrant teachers assume that learners are the same as they have always been, and that the same methods that worked for the teachers when they were students will work for their students now. But that assumption is no longer valid. Today’s learners are different.”

This slideshow was created for a public service audience however it is very relevant to education and has some interesting points about how digital natives operate. A thought provoking presentation for teachers.