Digital Native, Digital Immigrants and
Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants Part II:
Do They Really Think Differently?
13 December 2008
Are we really that different?
ARE OUR STUDENTS’ EXPERIENCES REALLY THAT DIFFERENT FROM OURS?
A CASSETTE PLAYER REPRESENTS MY EXPERIENCE. I AM OF A DIFFERENT GENERATION
FROM THAT OF MY STUDENTS’. I GREW UP WATCHING SESAME STREET AND PLAYING
NINTENDO, HOWEVER I DID NOT HAVE AN EMAIL ADDRESS OR A CELL PHONE UNTIL I WAS IN
COLLEGE. I HAVE NEVER USED A TYPEWRITER NOR AN 8 TRACK, BUT I AM STILL REMAIN OUT
OF TOUCH WITH MY STUDENTS’ UNIQUE PERSPECTIVE.
Digital natives’ perspectives are often under appreciated by educators.
They are seen as having short attention spans and in need of instant
gratiﬁcation. It is believed television and video games have sucked the
creativity out of our students.
The reality is their attention spans are shorter and they may have instant
gratiﬁcation “issues,” however their creativity is very alive. When I give my
students a project relating to technology, their products always exceed my
expectations. They are continually educating me about technology. I agree
with Prensky when he claims that educators just simply do not know how to
harness this creativity and inspire their students. We are not speaking the
As educators, we need to be able to appreciate and utilize their incredible
skills. They are able to do the work and learn the information, we just are
not adapting our teaching to the changing world.
In the high school where I work, there is a
rule that students are not allowed to use i-
pods outside of study hall.
As Prensky points out, we fail to recognize
that our students can process information
simultaneously. What is wrong with a student
working on a project and listening to music at
the same time?
The school’s policy is just another example of
how we are failing to understand our
students’ world. The school’s belief is that it
reﬂects badly on the school when visitors
walk through the building and students are
listening to i-pods in the classroom. I feel it is
totally ignoring the students’ abilities,
interests, as well as possible educational
uses such as podcasting. Are we looking out
for students’ needs or our own?
Reaching students through educational video or computer games is a
fantastic way to teach or review content. Prensky points out that the idea is
terriﬁc, however it has yet to be executed well. As a foreign language
teacher, I have found some fabulous resources online. My favorite is an
interactive video series. The problem I ﬁnd is the download time can be
incredibly long. I agree with Prensky that we need to continue to develop
these type of applications for our students’ learning.
THIS IS CURRENTLY MY FAVORITE ONLINE RESOURCE FOR SPANISH LEARNERS. IT IS A TELENOVELA BY BBC LANGUAGES. CLICK
HERE TO LINK TO THE BBC LANGUAGES’ WEBSITE: BBC LANGUAGES - MI VIDA LOCA
Problems educating digital
natives: Parallel processing: Just because we are not sure
how to solve this problem of teaching less step-by-
step, utilizing the students’ ability of random access,
does not mean we should stop searching for a
Instant gratiﬁcation and short attention spans: In
my opinion, this is possibly the most dangerous of the
consequences of technology. The students’
perspective of waiting to achieve success and delay
gratiﬁcation is dangerously short. It sets them up for
unrealistic life expectations. In my experience, my
students are not patient for results and quickly give
up if the solution does not present itself immediately.
As educators and parents, we need to develop and
practice this skill with our children and students.
Video games and television programs scream
information at them. Unfortunately, they have trouble
distinguishing the difference between this type of
media and human interactions and capabilities.
Time: I believe in reaching my students through technology and being able to
educate them in their own language. The biggest hurdle in doing so is time. Public
school educators simply do not have the time to develop and research the ways in
which to speak this language. I have 125 students everyday. I have 45 minutes of
plan time. After the parent phone calls, assisting students, running copies, grading
papers or tests, entering grades, attending to any extra duties, I do not have the
time to learn a new language. Before and after school time is used to aid struggle
students or students who have been absent, in addition to any coaching or
extracurricular activities that almost every teacher is involved in. It is simply
expected that the teacher will use his or her after hours time to improve
instruction. Learning the language of technology is the necessary component,
however it is not always the most practical possibility.
If we are going to reach this generation,
then society needs to put a greater
importance on the education of our
students by supporting the schools and
MarcPrensky.com This is the website of Marc Prensky, the author who wrote the two
articles that this presentation was based on. It is includes those two articles, as well a
wealth of information regarding digital learning.
Tech Chick Tips Click on the speaker to hear the 48th podcast in a series of podcasts by
two Texas educators dedicated to advancing technology in the classroom. This podcast
includes 21st Century Literacy Activities and 25 Ways to Make a Difference.
ALTEC at the University of Kansas - 4teachers.org. This website contains many
practical ways to utilize technology in the classroom as well as many links to additional
resources for educators.
PBS Teachers - Resources for the Classroom Here teachers can search locally as well
as nationally for ideas to incorporate technology into their curriculum using PBS programs.
Langwitches.org is an expanding site dedicated to encouraging foreign language teachers
to educate using technology.