EDUC 573: Week 3–Digital Imminatives?

We’re almost halfway there! Week 4 is next week and I am continually amazed at all the things we can cram into a week of learning. 🙂

This week’s topic was Web 2.0–what it is, how we use it and why that’s important to ourselves and our learners.

I have to be honest that until last year, I hadn’t ever even really heard the term “web 2.0” and until just the other day, I hadn’t really thought much about what it meant.  I think I get it now that it’s the way the internet is no longer a “read only” experience, but is instead a place of co-learning, co-teaching, co-llaboration (hee hee).  Where once you could just look at a website, now you can be a partner in creating it.  Perhaps my favorite part of the whole Web 2.0 movement is how most everything you (I) need is always at my fingertips, regardless of whether or not I’m at my own computer.  Because of applications like Dropbox and Evernote, or numerous other web-based programs, I can work whenever, wherever I want or need to.  (But then, I must stop for a second and admit that while I like this feature, it’s probably not all positive.  There are definitely times and places I should NOT be working, but choose to anyway because I can.  This is definitely something I need to work on. 🙂 ).

I really enjoyed this week’s work, but much of that could have been because it was a topic I already knew much about.  As we were asked to explain a variety of Web 2.0 tools, I was able to easily think about how I’d implement them in my classroom because I’m already doing that!  The great part, though, is reading all of the thinking of my classmates regarding Web 2.0 and learning how I could use them differently.  What else could I do with something with which I am already familiar?

Now on to the explanation about the title (I know you were wondering what in the world I was doing with that!).  The article we focused on last week (and then reflected on this week) was Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants by Marc Prensky (2001).  While I’ve read this article before, and even used it as a reference in a paper I wrote last semester, of course reading it again and thinking about it in a different time and context made me consider different things than I did previously.

As a part of the course, we’re supposed to choose a quote from the article and respond to it.  I could have easily chosen the whole article, as Prensky makes numerous valid points, but alas I chose just one.  Ok, I chose two:

It’s just dumb (and lazy) of educators – not to mention ineffective – to presume that (despite their traditions) the Digital Immigrant way is the only way to teach, and that the Digital Natives’ “language” is not as capable as their own of encompassing any and every idea.

I think what really struck me about these words are that I want to be sure to do everything in my power not to be that Digital Immigrant teacher!  I like to think I am a trailblazer, that I try new things even when I am not sure of the outcome because I think they will help my students learn.  I like to think that I trust my students, that often they are teaching me more than I am them.  And so it’s my job then, right, to help the Digital Immigrants see that there is a better way.  Just like with any new learning, it may not be quick and it may not be easy, but in the end it will be good.

And so this article also led me to another question:  Is there a name for someone who is both a Digital Immigrant and a Digital Native?  I consider myself to be somewhere in the middle.  This part got me thinking:

Digital Immigrants don’t believe their students can learn successfully while watching TV or listening to music, because they (the Immigrants) can’t. Of course not – they didn’t practice this skill constantly for all of their formative years. Digital Immigrants think learning can’t (or shouldn’t) be fun. Why should they – they didn’t spend their formative years learning with Sesame Street.

So like I said, I am somewhat of an Immigrant just because of my age, but that definition doesn’t ring true at all with how I think/believe/feel about myself, my students or learning in general.  I do think learning can and should be fun, I did spend my formative years learning with Sesame Street, Mr. Rogers and the Electric Company, and I am a MASTER at multi-tasking (i.e. learning while watching TV and/or listening to music–I’m doing it right now, actually).  Perhaps its like with any definition or rule, there’s always an exception.  And in this case, an exception is what I long to be.  🙂

So what do you think about the digital natives, digital immigrants and Web 2.0?  Which are you?  How does knowing about digital natives impact the way you teach and the way your students learn?  I’d LOVE to hear your thoughts. 🙂

6 thoughts on “EDUC 573: Week 3–Digital Imminatives?

  1. I think the transformation of Web 2.0 utilities is what has made the internet THE place of activity in the 2010s. When internet content was only published and distributed to be read, most any interaction with the material between HUMANS still had to take place in traditional places – library, classroom, pub, restaurant, coffeeshop, cafe, teacher’s lounge, etc. There wasn’t as much incentive for change amongst people who were perfectly content to get their news from TV or the paper, the lessons from the district curriculum guide or a book, or their community activism from a handbill printed in someone’s basement, because no matter when the content came from, you were in the discussion if you were at the spot.

    I experienced this first in college when my friends and I all got Xanga blogs. It wasn’t groundbreaking, revolutionary stuff; we weren’t organizing an Arab Spring, but we were sharing whole parts of our lives that others in our circle of friends were missing out on if they were resistant to blog. I had several friends “quit” Facebook in college for one reason or another – it still largely consisted of just profiles and albums you posted; still low on INTERACTION by today’s standard – can you imagine someone doing that now?! A weird world when the person choosing NOT to sit in front of a device for a chunk of their lives is the DISconnected one socially.

    As far as immigrants and natives – they are diametrically opposite; you cannot put the words together! 🙂 That’s cheating. You’re obviously a naturalized citizen of the digital world at this point (I think I skipped in as a digital native at like, the, you-were-born-in-a-US-embassy level, LOL), but you’re still an immigrant because of your ed experiences growing up. There was a period where you had to train yourself that it was “normal” to do all of your work and learning on a computer. I mean, I know your prior knowledge was above the level of the class, but I was in the living room when you were doing college homework learning the parts of a computer and how to use a mouse. 🙂

    You’re an immigrant, own it. It’s what makes this [digita] country so great.

    • WOW! Really? I didn’t learn how to use a mouse until college? How quickly one forgets. 🙂 I like the “naturalized citizen” idea. I guess that’s what I was really trying to figure out. Where do I fit? And so I guess now I know the answer. But why does it seem so hard to swallow? Why do I want so badly to claim that I’m *not*?

      • It’s not that you didn’t actually know how to use a mouse; we were doing it at home daily. It was just in the curriculum. I think I was watching you go through like, the first lesson.

  2. For the same reason some immigrants to the US “Americanize” themselves as much as they can. You just want to show you belong. You wear more of your immigrant persona when working with more traditional teachers, right? In most cases it benefits you to be “native,” but sometimes, not.

  3. It seems to me that the definitions are too narrow to encompass a whole group of people who fit somewhere in the middle. I didn’t own a computer until I was in college, and e-mail only became a reality two or three years later. My first digital interaction was a touch tone phone and a calculator. Learning, for me, though, has never stopped, and at some point, the internet became a gateway to accessing the world’s largest library – filled with everything from learned treatises to garbage. And, the fact that I can now access it at my fingertips in a device that holds all of my contacts, keeps my calendar, and can instantly allow me to communicate in picture, by voice, or digitally is mind-boggling. But, I’ve never thought that someone can’t learn while listening to music – studies show the opposite, depending on the many variables related to the test subject. Studying while watching television, like multi-tasking in many circumstances, has been shown not to be as effective, again, depending on many variables related to the test subject. And, I do believe that there is merit in understanding why we have “folders” in digital graphic storage media – which I fear many “natives” do not. Similarly, just because any presentation can be turned into a PowerPoint slideshow (or the like) does not mean that it should be. Nor do I think that anyone’s life will be enriched by pictures of daily meals, but apparently some folks find value in it, because bloggers keep posting them.

    So, I guess I would seek a definition that recognizes digital technology as a tool – that can be exploited minimally or very effectively. To utilize it very effectively, though, it seems that the user should appreciate its value by understanding its origins. Practically, understanding the origins of technology is important. For example, twice a day, U.S. Navy ships take their coordinates using sextants. Why? Because if the electricity on the ship fails, a GPS is useless, and it is important to know exactly where the ship is at all times. Technology users should also recognize the limitations – for example, one can watch videos on YouTube all day about how to do something, but until one actually does what is being demonstrated in the real world, one cannot truly experience the lesson. Sometimes, too, I just like to smell a book and touch the paper, even if it isn’t a 15th century German illuminated manuscript. It seems, to me, therefore, that the goal is not be move from immigrant toward native or native toward immigrant, but rather for students – which we should all be until we take our last non-digital breaths – to find the proper balance where we don’t fear technology and learn to embrace it to enhance our learning and life experiences and those of others.

    Keep up the good work. It seems to me that you are trying very hard to find the right combination – and, naturally, it will vary for each student based on their own needs and experiences. Perhaps most importantly, your attitude is really helpful to your students.

    • Great response. LIked your example from the Navy.

      I think this inner identity struggle is because we feel like there should be SHAME in being labeled as a digital immigrant. It’s just a description of your formative environment. Yes, there is a broad spectrum of attitudes toward and skill in the integration of technology amongst immigrants, but the same can be said of natives. Especially in elementary (and usually in secondary, too) well-adapted digital immigrant teachers still have MUCH to teach their students in the use of technology.

      Problems in technology-based lesson plans arise when immigrant (even wannabe native) teachers assume that their native students already know what to do with the technology and will innately know the purpose of its use in that lesson/setting. Although they’re used to learning that way, we still need to show them how to apply the tech, and why it is useful to do so.

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