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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Dave, I'm following you around. I, too, had forgotten about this until the two emails entered my inbox. I've chucked the whole native/immigrant idea. I'm watching teachers using all kinds of tools to help students to use tools to enhance their understanding. As I do more work with DI, I realize that there is such a wide spectrum of uses and people who use them that to try to bottle them is like trying to bottle soap after its hit the water.
Because I teach a Communication Production Technology class, I have had to work with students who can text like mad but who have trouble using tools to transfer audio. They have MyFacebookSpaces and can communicate with friends all over but have trouble creating a message from scratch because they don't understand what lies behind the medium they are viewing.
I generalize, but most youth use the technology to communicate, in their own terms, with their friends where ever they may be much the same way I use technology to communicate with my peers from all around the globe regarding various projects on which I am collaborating. It is true that more students use technology to communicate as they have more access to it. Now that technology has reach the status of professional sports, it's getting attention beyond being just something that the youth do. The status quo of education is finally being challenged - What is the purpose of schooling? If it is to prepare the youth to have skills for the future, we're done because change is taking place exponentially. Beyond reading, basic math concepts and expressing themselves (writing, typing, texting, drawing, singing, hand-signing, etc), what is the purpose of school? Really, information is accessible, and changing, faster than ever before. We don't need to dispense it anymore. So, what is the purpose of having schools? What is the role of the teacher?
Although the discussion of native/immigrant has been interesting, it's really mute at this juncture. Instead, we need to really focus on where the role of school fits given the reality of what is happening societally. Parents, still clinging to their understanding of "school" and the "grading" system of a bygone era, will have to reshape their understandings to fit a new reality that is here. In much the same way, universities and colleges will soon have to change their acceptance criteria from the standard "grades" to something that incorporates a students demonstration of their understandings. I still have difficulty assigning "grades" to what my students are doing in my class because it doesn't fit at all. Houston, we've got a problem!
I guess I'm advocating that we're using valuable energy to label when, really, it doesn't matter. And that, I believe, is why youth work so well with the technologies and many adults don't. Their using and we're caught up trying to label it before we use it. Dave, the commenter before me, has done some amazing things and grown a great network which he uses to learn in much the same way that our youth use their networks to communicate. Check out his work. To me, he's reached native status - using tools without worrying about the labels. Something, I believe, more teachers are seeing.
Kelly,
As you know, I too have been contemplating school structure and issues around marking. So let's go now to a student and hear her voice:

"We get good grades, graduate from elementary, then middle, and finally high school. Mistakes are counter-intuitive to students growing up in the school system, because mistakes are usually connected to the Big Red Pen of Death (bad grades).

What I’ve painfully learned through my own mistakes: it’s easy to live the expected and conventional. It’s when you live the unexpected that you start having fun with your life.

Left with a fresh canvas and a complete set of crayons, I plan to take my own future in my hands, all the while retaining who I am—not my numeric representation."


From: One Sweet Dream by Lindsea on School2.0

We don't need to grade or label this young adult... we need to be in the business of expanding the choices on her palette so that she can cover her canvas with a new masterpiece!
Really, information is accessible, and changing, faster than ever before. We don't need to dispense it anymore. So, what is the purpose of having schools
Kelly, not to be disagreeable, but, do you not feel that, in a nutshell, this remark captures everything that is wrong with schooling as we know it? It is not simply, remarkably, untrue? While I'm sure you mean well, and feel you're presenting a view of students that many adults don't grasp, isn't what's missing here an understanding of the lives of actual adults - present and future? School is not a playground where kids go to learn the latest new toys. It is not a place where we say, "here's how you read, write, format text, create and upload media; here's the Internet. Now go at it."

School is a place where people who will be soon leading very active, busy lives go to be grounded in a common base of civility and culture. It is a place where we learn that we are not the first generation to inhabit the planet, and in all likelihood, not the strongest or smartest. It is a place where we go to do and learn things that are very hard to do and learn alone. And easier to learn now than as an adult.

To put it more directly, if they are not mastering trigonometry, chemistry, accounting, or drawing, shouldn't they be memorizing a bit of Shakespeare, the Declaration, the Preamble and the Bill of Rights, and the countries of the world? Learning the difference between Shia and Sunni, and what this means for them and their fellow students from Australia to Poland to Britain to Japan?

Not every kid can master calculus. But every kid who at least tries hard at algebra and geometry will have some respect for the engineers who go on to six, eight, or ten more years of math and physics. Or for the medics and bio-scientists who trod a similar long path. Not every kid can sit down with Aristotle and Plato. But at an extreme bare minimum, they should leave school feeling that these names are important; and better, they should have some idea of why.

And they should have some idea that the knowledge that filled the libraries of Greece and Rome was nearly stamped out by the book-burning establishment or Europe, and saved by the Muslims and the Irish Catholics. That 6,800 Americans died on tiny Iwo Jima. Fighting against forces allied with the Holocaust. And that, after we all vowed, "Never Again", we sat on our hands while a tiny band murdered eight hundred thousand human beings in Rwanda, in less time than a summer fleets by.

Is that not what school is about? And do we--they!--not need to know whether they've mastered these things?
Ed, I'm sure that your comment about "isn't what's missing here an understanding of the lives of actual adults - present and future?" isn't meant to be negative, instead, indicating that my focus is on the youth and not taking into account the adults. I do have a pretty good grasp of what the world of adults is about whether it is a doctor, lawyer, teacher, plumber, medic, professional sports athlete or a single mother of 3 where 2 of the youth suffer from Fetal Alcohol Effects, broken families or whatever. Your are right, adult life is not my focus. It is the students that walk through the doors who have problems at home, don't have enough to eat, are having peer relation problems, are tired, hurting or .... It's having them realize that all you mention deals with human interactions and building our understanding of others and people through time will help us to develop our own interactions and human relations.

I don't disagree that they need to know some of these things but, here's the kicker, different places each have a different idea of what is important to learn. So, I have no clue about the Declaration, the Preamble and the Bill of Rights but I do have a great understanding of the Constitution and Charter of Rights and Freedoms. As for the countries of the world, I know where they are located, generally. Why memorize Shakespeare? Yes they should know about war but why Iwo Jima, why not Dieppe? Or Vimy Ridge? We also sat on our hands through the Bosnian massacres and many other similar autrocities, why just Rwanda? Should they know about Aritstotle, Plato, Socrates, Dante, Woodsworth, Colleridge, Shelley, Yeats, Twain, Atwood or should they explore other great writers and know about Christ, Muhammad or Mother Theresa, Ghandi and the Dali Lama? As for the math and algebra and the respect for engineers, how is trying something going to instill respect? Does it have to do with the number of years of university? If that's the case, I've put 11 years of my life into learning at the undergraduate and graduate levels. But that's not what people ask about or look at when it comes to respect. It takes many years to become a doctor but if the person has problems interacting with patiences and compassion.... I have respect for the person who comes over at 2:00 am when it's -35 and fixes my furnace when I couldn't so my family and I aren't cold through the night. He's got, what, maybe 2 years after school education and yet does work that is as important as any engineer or biochemist. It takes us respecting all people for what they contribute to this place called earth and not just those who spend extra time to become an engineer or a doctor or .....

As for needing to know they mastered these things, what do we mean by mastered? Can they answer the short answer and fill in the blanks, matching and multiple choice and get a good grade? Or, as in David's last post, are they expanding their knowledge and understanding, developing empathy and social conscience, honing their ability to express themselves using information that is reliable and developing critical thinking skills and then painting a masterpiece. Do they understand the intricacies of human interaction as portrayed through the tragic characters of Othello, Hamlet, Macbeth or Lear and can they see that the interplay of human feelings and emotions in Love's Labour Lost? Reciting "To be or not to be" may be impressive but wouldn't it be greater to have them understand that "all the world's a stage" where their actions have meaning and their interactions have impact and no matter what their position in the social structure, their lives have impact and meaning even if they can't recite anything.

As a lifelong learner, these students will be introduced to things that are not invented and will struggle, as adults, with the changes that their children are facing. The one hope that I have is that schools will have changed and become communities of learning where the focus is on constructing knowledge and not receiving information.
Kelly, what I think I'm saying is, you can't "understand the intricacies of human interaction as portrayed through the tragic characters of Othello, Hamlet, Macbeth or Lear" if you haven't read and heard them. And the average kid isn't going to pick them up later in life if they haven't been exposed earlier. Not that I could have grasped those things at 17, my brain wasn't so wired. I didn't find them interesting; I barely do now.

Yet I am thankful that I was exposed to them; had some of them explained. More directly, I wish my teachers had been able to step up the intensity of nearly everything we did, Shakespeare and Dante included. Most grads and dropouts say the same.
Of course they do but at 15 - 17 they don't and that is where what we are doing now, having them memorize and fill in the blanks, is falling down. Ask them to give an example of a Hamlet, someone who has good intentions but is also driven by the desire of power, and see what they say. Or how people aren't always as they appear or what letting pride get in the way of our human relationships can do for us or... Have them examine how Shakespeare, back in his day, was able to grasp the interplay and relationships of people better than anyone and show it on stage so that it amused and entertained, seeing themselves yet not. But don't have them memorize the stuff or even read it in Middle English. That's just cruel!

Schools spend way too much time worrying if youth can fill in the blanks properly instead of working on the human interactions and building on that in a context of here and now. History has its lessons but only if we can tie them to the here and now. We are living history at this moment. How will the future judge us - by what we are creating or what we are filling in?
This is in response to both idigo196 and Ed Jones

You are both right! Students need to schools to help them be "grounded in a common base of civility and culture", schools should promote critical thinking...

The question is how we do this? Is it effective to lecture them? Or is it better for them to listen to history or to help design the content of their learning? Or is it better for them to create content and design the learning around interests and personal ties that bind them to a shared history and a shared world?

I cannot speak for Kelly, but I know where he is coming from. There are limitations to schools that are implied and followed not for pedagogical reasons but for historical or structural reasons. We don't want students to make the mistakes of the past, but we teach them using a model that should have been abandoned years ago...

Technology is not 'the answer', but it offers a window to doing new things in new ways. Get rid of schools? No. But should we not get rid of historical traditions that are no longer relevant to teaching students in meaningful ways?
It's not specifics to which Prensky referred. It was the ability to quickly fathom the mechanics. Digital natives understand the how much more quickly than we immigrants ever will. We still need to provide them with the specific tools. Wearing a new label is not our excuse not to provide high quality education.
Durff,

The how of what? What's with the need to label everything? Use, incorporate, influence and expand. This discussion has been going on for far too long and, really, has taken up far too much time. People use technology, some better than others regardless of age. Some understand better than others and incorporate at a much faster rate.
Finally, Prensky was a programmer trying to sell games. He found an analogy that worked at the time. It's past - let's leave it there.
I was assigned to a new building this year and have run into many of the same issues. So many of my 8th graders have My Space Accounts but had no idea how to use many of the Web 2.0 tools.My first job was to explain how to remove personal information from their account I encourage the use of avatars insteads of photo's, stressed the importance of not using last names, and explained that their is no such thing as privacy on the internet!

I have had to play catchup in a major way with my 8th graders to get them ready for High School. In one semester (4 days a week) I have taught digital photography with photo editing, scrapblog, Programing with Alice and HTML, simple Pod casts using PhotoStory, and loads of O. S. funtionality. Most did not know how to make a new folder, choose desktop thmes, format pictures in word, or merge data! Lots of them apparently thought the computer was a video game system! They have been pleasantly surprised to be able to use citation makers, timelines, slide shows ,and so many of the on-line tools that have helped them with their school projects.
Hey this article seems to be related for the kids. And it is a nice to see it.

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I know a lot of adults (including teachers) who still see email as an incoming service, with the added function of occasionally forwarding something funny, gross, or heart wrenching. For these people, just returning a "thanks" or "message received" seems beyond their consideration. )Often, my digital native nephews seem to fall in this category as well).
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