Digital Natives: Ten Years AfterbyApostolos KoutropoulosEDUC-9701-Reading Discussion (Week-7)30 April 2013Bhavani Natarajan
Key Points of this presentation Coining of the term Digital Natives Prensky’s Digital Native Canon Addenda and Extensions to the Canon Straight from the Digital Natives Demographics Matter Access to, Utilization, and Quality of Engagement Personal Technology and the Leap to Educational Technology Locus of Control
Coining of the term Digital NativesLots of articles were written about the digital natives since the coining of the term tenyears ago. These writings were considered as common sense and have been repeatedmany times in many educational contexts. Other common terms, net-generation(Oblinger,Oblinger & Tapscott, as cited in Kouropoulos, 2011, p. 525) and Millenials (Strauss & Howe,2000 as cited in Kouropoulos, 2011, p. 525) are used to describe this same generation ofstudents.The term “digital native” was coined by Prensky (2001a, p. 1) in his early writings ten yearsago. In his recent writings he acknowledges the fact that “by virtue of being born in thedigital age, our students are digital natives by definition, but that doesn’t mean that theywere ever taught everything (or anything, in some cases) about computers or othertechnologies, or that all of them learned on their own” (Prensky, 2010, as cited inKoutropoulos, 2011, p. 531).
Prensky’s digital native canonIn the first article on digital natives Prensky (2001a, p. 1) wrote about a singularity, an eventthat fundamentally changed things. It stated that the current educational system is illprepared for this new generation of learner.This argument is supported by facts and figures, such as students spend less than 5,000hours of their lives reading, but over 10,000 hours playing video games, 20,000 hourswatching television. And also provided similar statistics about Instant messages (IMs) sent,use of(digital) cellphones and email sent. This statistics was supported by other digitalnative author’s writings, regardless of socioeconomic background and country of origin ofthe digital natives.
Prensky’s digital native canonPrensky (2001b)stated that digital natives prefer images over text, games over“serious work,” and function best when networked. These digital natives have skills,with digital technologies. Transferring their skills to academic context, both the digitalnatives and digital immigrants can’t pay attention and finally become doodled, dazedand day dream when they are bored.Prensky (2001b) argues that in a technology-infused environment the brain will adaptto use the tools that are available in that setting. However digital natives should alsoexploit the physical ability, to learn to function in environments that don’t have thenecessary tools. Moreover the technology use among the digital native population didnot consider pedagogy, what is good for learners but change for the sake of changing;or the technological equivalent of “throwing money at the educational problem”.
Addenda and Extensions to the CanonUsing the Google search engine does not mean that students possess thecritical literacy and information literacy required to find which results arequality search results (Oblinger, 2005).Digital natives are “Nintendo over logic,” which states that this generationdoesn’t read manuals and prefers a trial and error approach, as one might findin a video game (Frand, 2000, p. 17). These traits are inherent in humans as awhole, and everything else is just a tool to utilise.Another trait ascribed to digital natives is that they are multitaskers, moreoverthey are efficient at it, and it is technology that encourages this multitasking(Koutropoulos, 2011, p. 527).
Straight from the Digital NativesTechnology means “Reformatting my computer system and installing cutting-edge software that allows me to do what I want, when I want, withoutrestrictions, viruses, and the rules of Bill Gates, ” and “The ability to adapt andconfigure an already established program to *something that+ benefits me daily.”(Roberts, 2005, as cited in Koutropoulos, 2011, p. 528).Digital natives are described as striving “to stay ahead of the technology curve inways that often exhaust older generations,” and to achieve this they “rarely pickup the instruction pack to learn programming or a technique. Instead, spurredby our youthful exploration of the Internet, we tend to learn things ourselves, toexperiment with new technology until we get it right, and to build by touchrather than tutorial” (Windham, 2005, as cited in Koutropoulos, 2011, p. 528).
Demographics MatterThere are many variables that creates the stereotypical digital native. Location andsocioeconomic status is important. How much one uses a certain tool ortechnologies, and what for they use it are necessary factors; and how well theseskills and behaviours are transferred over into educational domains is important(Koutropoulos, 2011, pp. 528-529).Socioeconomic factors, as well as other factors such as race, gender andeducational background play an important role in how and how much people usetechnology (Broos & Roe, 2006, as cited in Koutropoulos, 2011, p. 529).
Access to Utilization and Quality of EngagementHaving a generation “bathed in bits”, (Tapscott, 1999, as cited in Koutropoulos, 2011, p.529) access and utilisation of technology in both quality and quantity matters, when thetechnological engagement of these digital natives are measured.In Australia a study showed that only 15% of the digital natives were “power users” and45% were rudimentary technology users (Kennedy et al., 2010, as cited in Koutropoulos,2011, p. 530).Considering the claims of digital native evangelists at face value, one might think that allof them are power users; that they are indeed media producers, who collaborate oftenwith great skill. However statistics from a variety of studies show a different picture; thefact is that the average “digital native” entering college is not technologicallysophisticated to become a power user.
Personal Technology and the Leap to Educational TechnologyTwo factors have to be considered even when technology is used for personal use.First is to examine student motivations and perceptions as to what constitutesinstruction. Student’s perceptions of education were fairly traditional. They prefer to belead by a subject matter expert. So technology isn’t necessarily ruled out, however itneeds to be tied into the subject of the class (Lohnes & Kinzer, 2007, as cited inKoutropoulos, 2011, p. 530).The second factor is the perception of the space: is it a private space or a public space?Students are reluctant to mix their private sphere, exemplified by the use of services likefacebook and instant messaging, with the classroom sphere. Thus “Collaboration andcollaborative learning did not seem to be a strong feature of the students’ experience atuniversity and the kinds of social networking that was done was mainly informal andlargely unrelated to formal learning” (Jones & Romanau, 2009, as cited in Koutropoulos,2011, p. 530).
Locus of ControlQuantitative studies show that students have the skills that they need, howeverqualitative data contradicts the quantitative data. Students only have very basic officesuite skills. Puzzled by technology, some are afraid to experiment fearing that they willbreak the computer (Kvavik, 2005 as cited in Koutropoulos, 2011, p. 531).The non-digital native older students have more proficiency in technology. Access tocomputers, time, and lack of confidence has an effect on computer literacy (Eynon,2010, as cited in Koutropoulos, 2011, p. 531).Educators and parents have a tacit expectation that kids will engage spontaneously,with schooled interests on computers. If computer access and behaviours are controlledexternally (Kerwalla & Crook, 2002, as cited in Koutropoulos, 2011, p. 531) it will limitthe learning of learners.
DiscussionGroup A: How does the Nintendo game help in identifying the directionsand intense contradictory data?Group B: How can the digital natives break the computer without physicaldamage?Group C: What strategies could be used to collaborate the digital nativesand the digital immigrants?To the class: What are the impacts of being power users for students of thedigital native generation?
ConclusionIn the past ten years, lots of articles have been written by many authors about how toreach out and how to teach these so-called digital natives.Teachers have to focus on proper pedagogy. Especially in exposing students toinformation retrieval and critical information analysis skills, both in the digital and theanalog realms. Teach students to change their approach of learning, instead of assumingthat they possess “Nintendo over logic” concept, which enables them to modify theirlearning plans when things are not working out (Koutropoulos, 2011, p. 532).
ReferencesFrand, J. L. (2000). The information-age mindset. Educause Review, 35(5), 14-24. Retrieved April15,2013 from http://net.educause.edu/apps/er/erm00/articles005/erm0051.pdfKoutropoulos, A. (2011). Digital Natives: Ten Years After. MERLOT Journal of Online Learning andTeaching, 7(4), 525-538.Oblinger, D. G. (2005). Learners, Learning & Technology: The Educause Learning Initiative. EducauseReview, 40(5), 66-75. Retrieved April 17, 2013, fromhttp://net.educause.edu/ir/library/pdf/erm0554.pdfPrensky, M. (2001a). Digital natives, Digital immigrants. On the Horizon, 9(5), 1-6.Prensky, M. (2001b). Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants, Part II: Do They Really Think Differently? Onthe Horizon, 9(6). Retrieved April 15, 2013, fromhttp://www.marcprensky.com/writing/Prensky%20-%20Digital%20Natives,%20Digital%20Immigrants%20-%20Part2.pdf