I am starting to wonder how many of my kids are really "digital natives." It seems to me that an awful lot of them really don't know what's on the Internet (besides myspace) and they don't really know how to transfer skills in one program or website to another. My kids were totally confused by blogger. Is this normal? I sort of overestimated their ability to figure out how to use a site because I thought they'd spent their lives on the computer so.... I'm just curious. Is this something the rest of you see often? Kids who fit into that "digital native" category, but really aren't digitally native? I'm almost wondering if it's something adults are pushing onto the kids because we can see what's out there to use. Thoughts?

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The interesting thing about the discussion of digital natives/digital immigrants is the way it has evolved, just as labels do. The original designaton may have been one that divided people into subgroups by age, but that doesn't mean that can't/won't/hasn't been altered. Labels are usually created to help define a phenomenon that is new or not fully understood. They are useful "tags" to allow the converstation to take place. Only when the discussion begins , as allowed by the labels, can we begin to develop ideas and a better understanding of what we are talking about. At that time we may, and often do, realize that the original labels were not completely accurate, in either their designation or their definition. So we change something. This is the growth that results naturally from scholarly discussions.

So what had been a digital native/ digital immigrant may not be the same now. And probably isn't.
I think part of the problem is that because of the blazing speed of technology advances, the cart has gotten before the horse. It used to be the norm for kids to learn the vocabulary, the frameworks, and the basics of any subject area before they came to see it with a sort of cohesive, orderly understanding.

Now kids immediately learn how to use cool new stuff, but they have lost the big picture. They can walk the walk without talking the talk and it makes their knowledge fragmented and isolated. As adults, we are sometimes dazzled by their ability to do "stuff" that we never even heard of, but in the end, they are doing the same things we've always done but in a different way. What differs is that we understood and still try to understand the context that our knowledge and skills fit into.

The failing with many teachers today is their unwillingness to admit they can learn from students and that causes them to lose the opportunity to add their particular related and experienced guidance. Because something is new does not mean that we have nothing to say about it. Once you let kids share something new, you add it to your big picture and find things that are related and similar. That allows you to look for experienced insights to share. Most things old can be done in a new way, but for example, communication still has similar conventions and interactions at the core.

That is where our value comes in. Help students to fill in the gaps caused by their being able to jump into new technologies without advance preparation. It helps us retain our credibility and value in student eyes which gets lost when we just refuse to let them share in the learning process which can go both ways.

Just my two cents.
If I recall correctly, the term digital native had much to do with expectations. Even if students can't play "Halo 3", they may still have certain expectations about how information can be delivered and abilities tested. They know that these incredible stories are spun out via highly graphic video games, or the 237 native DirecTV channels, and they think, 'why am I getting dry expository-Mr. J. Evans Pritchard, Ed.D., presiding, and a worksheet?'

The implication being that we not move traditional text to a screen--blog, wiki, or otherwise,--but that we deliver knowledge and testing in more immersive and compelling fashion.
Just adding the URL for the original article from Marc Prensky FYI http://www.marcprensky.com/writing/Prensky%20-%20Digital%20Natives,...
William,

I agree with everything you wrote above and especially the need for teachers to adapt and provide energy and enthusiasm. It isn't "paternalistic" as you wrote, to want students to communicate more effectively. But I think it is less that they are not effective communicators but about audience. They need to communicate with diverse audiences and the teacher has to guide them on how to communicate not just to their peers but in unfamiliar settings - be that a computer chat room, infront of the U.N or telling a story in print.

I think the question we should always filter our lessons/classroom activities through regarding "literacy" is "what is the intended audience?" and "What is the purpose in the years ahead of said communication?". Often when teaching any kind of literacy we neglect to think about the audience the students will be addressing, what exactly that will be. We use our old paradigms, our old models and slop them over onto the teaching of our students. We improve but don't think, what are we improving towards? One astounding point made on the recent "Do you know" slideshow (or maybe another?) was that what we are teaching / preparing our students for, will for the most part be defunct/obsolete by the time they graduate. We have to think about what that means? How do we prepare them for something we aren't even sure about......

Students in the "image age" (I prefer this term over "digital" -- the real shift in thought has been towards pictorial/image association as oppossed to text and this says more than just analogue/digital in my mind) communicate differently and will communicate for different purposes. We may be saddened by the fact that students won't in great numbers articulate and elocute as though words refer to in our own mind. They will in a different, but as powerful way. Through images, less through text. Through voice and less through "speech" (voicing driven through text based education/knowing).

I agree we have to get students motivated through using technology as a means/conduit for communication. Using technology in the classroom is now almost a buzz phrase for "student motivation". Deservedly so.

I look positively towards the future of education and technology. Especially in regards to the liberating and empowering possibilities of new technology and communication. Though I do sometimes wonder if the barbarians are at the gates -- or is that "Natives"?

DD
http://eflclassroom.ning.com
www.ddd.batcave.net
Hooray for the passing of the text age!! Seriously. I've been mulling a paper woeing the takeover of schools by the fad of Literary Criticism which oozed out of the university English departments, corrupted related departments, and has now taken K-12 in the form of the mantra to Critical Thinking.

Lost in this has been a good solid introduction to what was once education: real stories of real people (instead we get dull-as-paint expository on eras, -isms, -ologies, and grand overarching themes), art (MichelangelWho?), music, poetry, and hopefully some actual critical thinking in the science lab and math room. They learn to criticize, but don't first get to know the struggles and triumphs of Mozart, daVinci, Newton, David, Patrick, Saladin, Cook, Washington, Lincoln, Edison, Anthony.

Our analysis of the educational media extant on the web is sometimes encouraging, too often not. Creators get funding for very narrow subjects, which tell way too much about a narrow topic, aren't interactive enough, and fail to tell a story. Youtube also sucked a lot of creative energy out of the movement toward interactive educational web media, but there's also hope that from the YouTube period will come an appreciation for the importance of sound and motion.

K-12, Inc. has the high content, medium tech thing down, but alas they may not be available to you.
A little off-topic, but I can't let the mention of K-12, Inc. go by without a comment.

From the OWL Institute for Open Educational Resources:
In a 2004 study released by the Education Policy Studies Laboratory at Arizona State University, researcher Susan Ohanian found the K12 curriculum unimaginative and inappropriate for its target audience.

"Throughout the curriculum, the lessons had the same structure: learning presented as stimulus and response; training children to parrot phrases they do not understand; offering rote responses to horrific events," Ohanian wrote.

On Susan Ohanian's website you can find a long grade by grade analysis of the curriculum. She is very critical of the heavy use of coloring book pages as assignments, and links to non age-appropriate websites as resources.
No doubt Sylvia's right, this is feed for another thread, but: If I thought K12's economic model could provide the resources and reach to become a broad solution, I'd call up Bror Saxberg and ask him for a job.

Finances certainly hold them back, and their customer base is still limited. Similarly, I agree that Bror's bright staff, and that of E.D. Hirsch, started out with high goals and then got confronted with the hard realities of building a full K-12 curriculum. It's a huge challenge. In particular for this board, K12 has the problem that many of its students still don't have access to broadband, and certainly didn't in 2004. You'll see more high content resources now than you did, and they're working the problem.

On the other hand, the history text seems much more accessible to students than most of those coming out of the big publishers. I also think that, while K12 certainly is growing and incorporating feedback into their curriculum, they need a much broader student/parent/teacher base. Scaling up is critical to solidifying their curriculum, and they face many hurdles.

Still, these folk are at least looking toward building a 2012 curriculum that might produce students with some civic, historical, and biographical awareness. Susan Ohanian seems stuck in 1970, and isn't building toward anything that I can see, let alone dealing with the 50% graduation rates we're seeing in urban and minority communities, or the abysmal uninformedness of many who do pass through. Criticizing is easy; building hard work.

Which is why Classroom 2.0 Rocks!!! :-)
OK, Ed, I'm going to hold you to the quote, "No doubt Sylvia's right" ;-)

I do have to say that I think there is room for both criticism and product development. Neither is easy, but both must be held to a high standard.

By the way, Susan Ohanian has written some excellent materials for kids and math (Garbage Pizza, Patchwork Quilts, and Math Magic is great!) so she's not just talking out of her hat.

I worked with Susan Ohanian as an advisor on our TechYES product, and her depth of knowledge about curriculum made our product better. Some of the things she said were very critical, but the outcome was better, more student-centered materials.

Second point, bad instructional materials are not a step on the path to good instructional materials. Worksheets and coloring book pages do not morph into authentic projects. You are right--K12 faces many hurdles, and trying to transform a curriculum while scaling up seems daunting to say the least. I have no doubt that they are good folks trying to do the right thing, but hopefully they are taking criticism seriously and working to meet the needs of children, not the shareholders.

Finally, I completely agree that Classroom 2.0 rocks!!! ;-)
The last few comments are moving toward the discussion we should be having instead of trying to decide where exactly we put these students. We have the ability to have students be critical and creative, to explore topics that we once only wished we could get them to explore and to have an audience that, for sake of discussion, is global. Regardless of whether are digital natives, image natives or someother natives, they have skills to develop and needs to be met. If we look at what they bring to the class and move from there, it won't matter what type of native they are. Some students are more comfortable expressing themselves using text, some would prefer video and creating, some will want to use just voice some will want to combine all three.

As William points out, we are preparing them for a world that is changing as we prepare our lessons. I often chuckle at having to do year planning - like there is some way to know what is going to happen in the upcoming year. I know that learning objectives need to be defined but maybe we need to reconsider these first. are they really objectives that will take our students into their future? If we're just taking old objectives and refurbishing them to fit technologies, what have we really done?

The native/immigrant really needs to be shelved. Sorry, but we need to leave it alone as it doesn't help us to retool the education. Given the discussion here, it would seem the more relevant discussion would be what objectives do we need to teach, what tools best accomplish those goals and how do we go about creating the opportunity to do so. (I've taken part in at least a dozen discussions of these two terms and, to my knowledge, things have gone nowhere since that first discussion. Does it really matter what anyone is? Or does it matter more that we start where they need help realizing that no two students may be at the same place and we're in for some serious differentiation in the classroom.)
There is lots of great stuff here and I'll pitch in my tuppence worth from the UK. The "native" / "immigrant" labels can be useful but like all analogies fall short. My favourite at the moment is that a native reads their e-mail, an immigrant prints off their e-mail and a digital asylum seeker asks their secretary to print off their e-mails! I like the idea of trying to find some statements about digital native but for me the question comes down to utility and purpose. All of us are better at doing things, exploring learning, solving problems when we see that there is a purpose. Schools set up the false purposes of tests, examinations and approval (from teachers or parents) but for many people the real reward is friendships bonds and personal reward so of course MySpace and Wii are more popular than Excel and Access.

What I think this starts to really call into question is the purpose of schooling. Once it was to install a body of knowledge into our students which would equip them for later life - the old 3 R's. As we have said on other parts of this SN we are now much more about process. It all comes down to being a social constructivist for me, we have to create learning opportunities that have value and meaning, get away from the idea that education is 5-18 (or K-12).

I've started to ramble a bit but I think I want to say that for many of the young people the technology is there and what they need to use it (which perhaps they do with more courage) is a reason and a purpose. Much of the school curriculum provides neither.
The "digital native" is certainly an overused term. My kids are just fearless when it comes to navigating any program because, as you say, they have done it all their lives. That doesn't mean that when they get into trouble they are not going to run for help immediately. This is where the line is drawn, I think. We need to produce self sufficient students. Students who use that fearless atittude to figure things out for themselves.
I observed a class of 8th graders learning to use Adobe PhotoShop in a Graphics Design class recently. The first 10 minutes were spent pointing and clicking and exploring and I was truly excited. When the students didn't get it immediately though,most of them lost interest and gave up. This was truly disheartening but is indicative of our society. We need to produce students who can transfer information from application to application and and who begin to rely on themselves to solve problems.

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