The terms digital native and digital immigrant have been around for quite some time and we all know the difference between the two, but what do we do with digital foreigners? Those people who are still tech-phobic may survive without an iPad or other digital device but if you are an educator and still a digital foreigner, you are going to eventually hit the wall. Technology gets more sophisticated every day and the longer you wait for the more difficult it’s going to be to get up to speed. Marc Prensky has been acclaimed as a “thought leader” – a forward-thinking innovator with ideas that are generally years ahead of the rest of the world. He suggests having a technology integration coach or mentor work directly with reluctant teachers to develop a lesson, using technology, that incorporates a favorite curricular topic of that teacher. He also claims that administrators could make a marked difference in getting teachers acclimated by expecting them to do so and holding them accountable for implementing tech. Prensky writes, …the single biggest problem facing education today is that our Digital Immigrant instructors, who speak an outdated language (that of the pre-digital age), are struggling to teach a population that speaks an entirely new language. It often feels pretty much as if we’ve brought in a population of heavily accented, unintelligible foreigners to lecture them. They often can’t understand what the Immigrants are saying. What does “dial” a number mean, anyway? Just think about all the things we say that must sound outlandishly foreign to kids!
The difference between a digital immigrant and a digital foreigner in the classroom setting can be a trite more than frightening. If I’m considered a tech-savvy teacher and have a hard time keeping up with my students, then what about the teachers who are still resistant to teaching with tech? They are missing out on a wonderful way to inspire, motivate and teach children. Preparing the youth of today for tomorrow involves a very different mindset than ever before. My suggestion to those not comfortable teaching with tech is to let the students do the teaching. They could use technology to make presentations explaining how specific tools work and how they can be used by teachers, especially those that are still digital foreigners.