Digital Natives in Our Classrooms….

So, last night I read a great article that was posted within our Digital Lead Learners shared networking account; called ‘Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants, which can be seen below.

Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants

The author, Marc Prensky notion that students of today are drastically different then students of yesterday, and that they are no longer the people are education system was designed to teach. This notion sat and resonated within me for a bit while reading the article and his thoughts and reasoning behind the statement came twofold when discussing the experiences these students have had since birth have all been infused in technology. Therefore, the different experiences created and changed their brain functionality, which is totally and drastically different then the 80’s, 90’s and even early 2000 babies.

I recently celebrated my 36th birthday and never really thought (although occasionally feel old due to my ‘hockey knees’) that I was old until I read this article. I always thought of myself as someone willing to go out and try new things for the students I teach. I never thought of myself as a ‘Immigrant’ as Prensky states ‘those of us not born within the digital age, but are fascinated and adopt many of the aspects of the new technology would be compared to the Digital Natives as Digital Immigrants’.

Not that being a immigrant is bad or anything but I would never have thought of us as different, that is until now. Unfortunately the fact of the matter is that we ARE drastically different in many aspects of life as we are programmed neurologically and environmentally drastically different! Our experiences growing up and the environmental aspects of life are all different! Wow, I honestly use to think my mother in law was so far off the beaten path from us and it drove me totally bonkers, but reflecting on this notion; this is how our students may be thinking as well.

So much for being ‘Cool Mr. Archer’, so this newly coined ‘Digital Immigrant’ will be exploring, diving deep into the new culture of the Digital Natives as this IS the new educational system we need to provide for these ‘Natives’ within our classrooms. Not saying the old ways are not good, however there is a way and means that we need to evolve and provide meaningful inquiry based learning experiences within the digital world for our students.

I loved Prenskys notion that ‘As a digital immigrant we turn to discover understanding from pre-programmed means embedded within our unconsciousness; which is books, however the digital natives unconsciously go to their pre-programmed means of obtaining information on varous subject matter through the net!’. My understanding of this blew me away as I try to always attempt going to the internet, although when someone asks me if I have resources for letter sounds and or phonemic awareness my unconsciousness directly turns to my resource shelves where I have acculumlated many, many great books, lesson plans etc over the past 9 years in education.

Its scary to think of yourself as old, but after reading this article I felt this way and never really understood the implications we are imposing on our students to learn the way we DID. This word ‘DID’ itself is past-tense meaning it was done before now; so why would we or even should we force these notions on todays students?!!? Just because we DID it this way and it WORKED (another past-tense) for us then doesn’t mean its the right and be all end all way to learn it now! Especially if the students we are teaching now are programmed differently, its not fair nor right for them.

Yikes; time to reflect and jump on the boat people, start putting yourselves in your students shoes, maybe that ‘lazy’ or ‘non-compliant’ student really just is not provided with the means to see what you are teaching that is meaningful to them!

What I personally have been going with lately (and this has only been a month or so; since reading George Corous’ book The Innovative Mindset) is what do you think? What do you know about this topic? What do you think you need to know and where / how are you going to find out this information?

I have found by taking a step back and resetting my personal mindset of directing, towards more guiding the individuals learning has been unbelievably amazing to watch as the magic that unwinds is beautiful! This can be applied to students, colleagues, volunteers within the school, teaching students, co-op students and yes even wives guys, hehehe jk!

Give it a shot people, take an extra step back and give everyone the benefit of a doubt and let them go at things by their ‘Native means’, you will be amazed with the results!!

On a last note, I would highly suggest everyone and anyone read Prensky’s 6 page article; Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants!! And just so you know as well, yes there IS ‘Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants Part II’. Guess what I am doing today?!!?

Have a great self-refection after reading this article friends!!


2 thoughts on “Digital Natives in Our Classrooms….

  1. Hi Joe: I LOVE how you think! Thank you for making your reflections transparent and visible. Thank you for challenging the way I think. I am looking forward to moving along with you!!!

    1. Thanks Norma, coming from you its a huge compliment!! I am loving this blogging ‘thing’ by the way. Totally addicted to tweet deck too!!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *