What is a digital immigrant? According to Wikipedia – A digital immigrant is an individual who was born before the existence of digital technology and adopted it to some extent later in life. We all know that digital natives are the sector who were born during or after the digital explosion. Because they have been interacting with digital technology from the get-go, they have an innate understanding of its concepts.
In a Google search for digital native, the results yield 84,900,000 hits, while digital immigrant brings up a mere 15,800,000 results. Is this a reflection that we don’t want to discuss our shortcomings and need to get up to speed? Educators, you have no choice and yes, digital immigrants can teach digital natives… in their language. We need an open mind and we need to learn to leave our fears at the door. Learning preferences of the digital natives include: teamwork, flexibility in the learning environment, student based projects that incorporate challenging assignments, and most importantly respect for student voices. Educators, we can do this. Content for sharing abounds on the Internet, we do not have to reinvent the wheel. We need to open our classroom doors and collaborate with the experts in our own buildings, we need to work on our PLN and learn from each other. And we need to put the students first and allow them to be in the drivers seat.
Students themselves can teach teachers as well as their peers. Remember you are the facilitator, this role is paramount when organizing learning. I have found in asking my students to teach me, teach each other, or the whole class, empowers them and gives meaning to the learning going on. The days of the teacher behind the lectern are over, put the students in the limelight and you will be pleasantly surprised by how this switch in roles can foster excitement, expand learning, and inspire further investigation into any given content.
Marc Prensky coined the terms digital native and digital immigrant in his work “Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants” back in 2001. Prensky defines digital natives as those born into an innate “new culture” while the digital immigrants are old-world settlers, who have lived in the analogue age and immigrated to the digital world.”
Seems odd to me that we rarely use the term digital immigrant since we are the majority. It also seems odd to me that in 2013 we are still struggling to get our schools up to speed and understand we are in a new era. Everything about education needs to change in order for our youth to be ready for whatever tomorrow may bring.
I was not born into the world with an innate ability to just click or touch or text. Hell, we still had a milkman when I was a child and the two phones in our household were connected to the wall. But I know I have an obligation to keep current and inspire lifelong learning, we all do. We need to get that immigration status upgraded and understand that success with our students needs to start with our understanding and acceptance that there is a vast divide between digital natives and us, the immigrants. “Our students online life is a whole lot bigger than just the Internet.” This online life has become an entire strategy for how to live, survive and thrive in the 21st century, where cyberspace is a part of everyday life.” (Prensky) We may be using the same technology, but these two groups interact with technology in vastly differently ways.
Here are some basic guidelines in how to approach teaching the digital native:
- explaining objectives clearly
- student-centered learning
- problem-based learning
- project-based learning
- inquiry-based learning
- active learning
- asking the open-ended questions
- constructivism or co-constructing
- learning by doing
- allowing students to find and following their passion
- allowing time for questions and sharing their thoughts and opinions
- creating presentations in text and multimedia
- giving students guidance
- delivering material in context
- creating rigor
- practice through games
- teach that failure is a learning process*
Watch the slideshow presentation, Teaching with Technology – Digital Immigrants teaching Digital Natives by Geoff Morris