#NMTrain “Digital Native” Debate

It’s been interesting watching #NMTrain from afar, and after the event (if you missed out on Leeds/Birmingham, then look out for Manchester/Newcastle). One thing that I find rather concerning is the use of the term ‘digital native’ by someone in the talks. This was a term defined by Mark Prensky in 2001, to identify those born in the ‘technological age’, indicating that “the younger generation” will all be familiar with technology, and all use it well:

It considers that all youths are digital natives in the modern age. However, this is not the case. It is primarily based on cultural differences and not by age. According to Henry Jenkins (2007), “Part of the challenge of this research is to understand the dynamics of who exactly is, and who is not, a digital native and what that means.” There are underlying conflicts on the definition of the term “digital natives” and it is wrong to say that all modern age youths are placed in that particular category or that all older adults can be described as digital immigrants. Some adults are more tech savvy than a lot of children, depending on socio-economic standings, personal interests, etc, but as teachers we must include the world outside with which the children are familiar and use it inside the classroom. Wikipedia.

In many ways it appears to let the older generation off the hook when it comes to ‘digital literacy‘, when it is something we all need to engage with. More recent theory has defined the idea of the ‘digital resident’ and the ‘digital visitor’, which takes away the age restrictions – and sees it more about an attitude:

  • Visitor = sees the web as a set of tools
  • Residents = sees the web as a space Dave White

Aleks Krotoski’s latest programme on Radio 4 ‘The Digital Human‘ refers also to this idea, picked up in this blog.

I wrote this post at the weekend, but on Monday got engaged in another conversation:

Pete then referred us to some bedtime reading by @daveowhite (2011).

‘Digital Literacy’ is also a term that can scare some, but the core meaning of it, is in learning to use digital technologies, and in learning to use them well/appropriately.

What do you think? Do you think the term ‘digital native’ still has legs? Do you think digital is something only the ‘younger generation’ should concern themselves with?

See the tweet archive for #nmtrain (it sometimes takes a while to catch up on itself)

About drbexl

Life Explorer, academia/learning, Christian, cultural history, WW2 posters: Keep Calm & Carry On, digital world, coach. Twitter: @drbexl @digitalfprint, @ww2poster @bigbible