No Good Excuse

I think it’s just about time to retire the whole digital native/digital immigrant analogy.

As much as I appreciate Marc Pretsky’s concept of students as digital natives and the rest of us as digital immigrants, lately I’ve been thinking it’s become an impediment to the discussion of how to use technology for teaching and learning.

For example, I’ve noticed that too many people who are supposed to be instructional leaders seem to be trying to use the concept as a crutch, as an excuse for why they can’t understand a specific piece of technology (or don’t want to try).

Pick a topic – blogging, ipods, cell phones, even Google Earth – and I’ve heard/read someone recently declaring themselves to be an “immigrant” and implying the topic was beyond their capabilities.

Now, I don’t expect the person directing the high school curriculum to start a blog (it would be nice!) but would it be so hard to read a few before professing ignorance and suggesting they be banned?

The superintendent may not want to hitch their life to an iPod like some of us have. But they certainly should try to understand why so many students are attracted to the devices.

However, they do need to realize there are some fundamental technologies currently forcing big changes in how information is managed and used, changes that should also be driving major changes to teaching and learning.

It’s time for all educators to stop invoking the digital immigrant tag to write off their lack of understanding.

digital native, digital immigrant

4 Comments No Good Excuse

  1. Andrew Pass

    I think your point is excellent. Educators should not use ignorance as excuse. However, if educators didn’t do this, I think the analogy is fair. I for one don’t consider myself an expert in technology. I am new to blogging and spent five hours or so on Saturday trying to figure out how to set up a feed for my new blog. Many people, including students, could have done this in a few minutes. But I recognize my own ignorance and use it as an opportunity to have students genuinely teach me. When I don’t understand something I ask for help from people who do unsterstand. When a child or teenager helps me we are both empowered. They feel great that they could teach somebody how to do something and I learn something new. Instead of using the digital native metaphor as an excuse we should use it as an opportunity for empowerment.

    Andy Pass

  2. Ms Cornelius

    Oh my Gawd! You finally identified what I was griping about last fall! I kept hearing all this “digital native- digital immigrant” static from the tech dept at my school.

    I don’t buy it.

    The kids may all have iPods, but they still don’t know how to properly use a search engine, not to mention how to be critical about the use of info found on the net– such as wikipedia.

    And, as one of my kids found out to his chagrin, they also think they can type lewd words into a search engine and then try to deny that they got to the porn site on purpose. Ah-ah-ah!

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