Digital Native – Digital Immigrant and everything in between!

Hello #ECI832 and beyond,

Ok, I know it’s been said that it’s not polite to ask a lady her age…well I am telling you now, that I was born AFTER 1980 and would therefore technically be considered a “digital native” but I have a heck of a lot to learn and certainly would not consider the digital language to be one that I was naturally fluent in.  It has taken me a lot of time and energy to get to the point I am in this complex online universe we all live in now.  I found the readings this week very interesting and very eye opening to some of the biases I hold as an elementary school teacher regarding what I expect my kiddos to know without lesson.  It seems we truly do have a digital divide on our hands both through accessibility and knowledge.

 Thanks Giphy!

I was able to pull a lot of very interesting points to ponder from the video “Digital Natives” Exist? on Youtube.  Click this link or watch the video below if you haven’t had a chance already.

One of the first points that really stuck out to me was the fact that it is now believed that being born into a world full of machines and technology has actually changed not only the behaviours of kids but also, could actually have made changes to their brains from the beginning.  How curious?  Being born into the world and having evolution handle some of the headache in preparing you for the crazy, quick paced world we live in.  However, as interesting as I found this point to be, there is such an incredible divide in the progress of our world, I don’t think we are safe to make any blanket statements as the effects of technology are so vast depending on your location.  In the video it says, “kids are native speakers of the computer, video game, internet language” which, in middle to high class Canadian culture is potentially true.  In my classroom I would say this is true – the majority of my children are very technologically literate.  My kids have the ability to use and understand the functionality of a computer, phone, video games and the internet.  That being said, at the school I came from prior to where I am now, there would have been a much lesser population of kids that would have had those literacies for a variety of reasons – financial being one, and coming from places in the world that have not developed into the technological place that Canada has.  The assumption that all kids, because of the time they have been born, are speaking this “native” language will be harmful in my position because then you are not taking the time to teach kids how to use the technologies properly and safely.  Just because they know basic functionality absolutely does not mean that they know how to make good, safe choices on their devices or internet.  Another quote that got my attention from the video was, “access does not come prepackaged with knowledge” which I feel like helps back up my reasoning for not jumping to conclusions.  Canadians and my students who have access to technology regularly do not necessarily have the knowledge needed to work safely and efficiently on the internet or technology on account of being able to access it.

Prensky’s concept of the digital native cannot, as mentioned in the video be used to classify a generation of people like the terms millennial, or gen x’er because really, a digital native refers more broadly to a group of people based on their “intimate familiarity with technology” not necessarily just their age.

   Want this GIF?  Check it here.

I think the biggest hurdle that will affect me with technology in the sense of digital nativity and immigrants in my position as a teacher, is remembering that technology is still absolutely a privilege, not a right, and therefore is not accessible to everyone, and not accessible to everyone equally.  In education we are encouraged to utilize technology in the classroom and in the higher grades, encourage children to hand in work, complete work, etc. using technology but even in Canada, not everyone has access or knowledge.  Technology is a gift but can cause a divide in your classroom.  Children without access to technology readily can feel invisible, left behind and excluded from the rest of the kids.  In this video is says, “although it may seem natural, it’s all learned” and this has never rang truer in schools than now – we have children who have grown up with these technologies readily available (in many circumstances) and yet, all of the experience is in fact just mimicry – the same way they would learn any other kind of language.  Children see their families using devices and much like learning anything else, children copy our behaviour and produce their own version of the skill.

Roxanne hit the nail on the head in my opinion when she says, “digital citizenship skills need to be taught, they are not embedded in our brains” – it is still the adults job when working with children and youth, whether you consider yourself a digital native or not, to be using technology safely and responsibly so that good practice can be imitated.  It is absolutely our job, no matter where on the spectrum you fall, to help kids understand the in-depth functionality of the technologies we have access to and not only use them to their fullest, but do so in a safe, respectful and responsible way.

Image result for monkey see monkey do Find the image: here!

Thanks for reading!

❤ Dani

“Educating the mind without educating the heart,

is no education at all.”

-Aristotle

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