In this blog entry I am going to attempt to outline my understanding on the ‘Digital Natives Debate’ based on a few readings I have been so fortunate to have read. I shall then decide which side of the debate I support and whether I am in fact a Digital Native or a Digital Immigrant!
‘Digital literacy and how it affects teaching and learning practices’ – Leigh Blackall
This article was particularly hard to read, the use of language and context very sleep inducing!
Digital literacy is the ability to access the Internet, join in communications, engage with an online information and communications network and find, manage and edit digital information (Blackall, 2005). Digital literacy is increasing throughout the population and is becoming an important tool in education and learning for students. It is therefore essential that teaching practices adapt to accommodate this new form of literacy.
In particular, Blackall praises the use of ‘FOSS’. Although age wise I fall into the digital native bracket, I show my digital immigrant side by not knowing what on earth ‘FOSS’ is! For those other digital illiterate persons out there this is what I discovered from the internet:
FOSS = Free Open Source Software, or Free/Libre Open Source Software (FLOSS), or Free Software, or just Open Source Software.
FOSS is released under a license which makes it available to anyone to use, modify, and distribute as they wish at no cost, provided they agree in turn to make it available to others to use, modify, and distribute as they wish at no cost.
Basically, it’s a free software program that is more adaptable then the standard Microsoft Office.
This article stresses the fact that students use FOSS at home and unless schools keep with the times, the students will find school resources limiting. By implementing FOSS into schools, it will broaden the digital literacy for staff and students. Schools need to be aware that technology is fast advancing and that the younger generations are using it more frequently, therefore, free and independent use of software may be beneficial for the students and their learning.
My opinion on this reading
I did not really enjoy reading this article and I am still unsure what FOSS actually is, even after my research on the internet I am not entirely sure, maybe it would help if I was to use and explore it myself. This just cements my opinions that I am just not ‘with it’ and too much of a digital immigrant. I feel I would benefit from going on a refresher course – especially if teachers are expected to know and use technology at the same level as their students.
From the conclusion of this article it is clear that schools need to support the fast development of digital literacy, and it is evident from my perspective that the older generations need to do regular research and training to keep up with the children we are teaching.
‘Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants’ by Marc Prensky
I actually quite enjoyed this read – the language was a lot more manageable for my illiterate brain!
What I got from this article was that today’s children have been brought up in a world with a high usage of technology and to them it is a normal existence. Prensky suggests that today’s students ‘think and process information fundamentally differently from their predecessors’ (Prensky, 2001) and that they may even have a different brain structure from the different experiences they have acquired through the use of advanced technology and communication. This mindmap outlines the differences between a Digital Native and a Digital Immigrant:
Most teachers today are Digital Immigrants, or are on the bridge between the two (like I predict I am). With less experience in the world of technology, we may have a different digital ‘accent’ compared to our students. How then are we supposed to instruct and guide our students if they are better equipped and accustomed to this digital language then we are?
The attributes of Digital Natives are that they are used to receiving information very fast, can multi-task, prefer graphics before text, thrive on instant gratification and frequent rewards, and prefer games to ‘serious’ work. It would be wise for the teachers to learn from their students rather then resisting this new literacy. Over time there will be a change to the curriculum, some traditional legacy content will die out just like Latin, Greek and learning to sew have done. For example mental math is no longer a necessity due to the access to digital devices for example – high tech calculators on our phones. But what if one day we were without our devices?! How will these Digital Natives cope? I for one know that I could not drive to an unknown location without the GPS – I just would not even consider it!
This article implies that times are changing fast and the digital ‘immigrants’ need to get up to date and learn the new digital language before they are left behind.
My opinion on this reading
Although not very factual I found this the easiest article to relate to. It draws on good examples that a non-technical reader can understand. I can see that I have both immigrant and native digital aspects to my digital language. Using more technology in the classroom scares me – what if they know more then I do and I’m put on the spot? Wouldn’t it be easier if I just stayed clear and taught theory instead? No, because the students wouldn’t find the content relevant and wouldn’t be engaged. I need to become better acquainted with technology, and think of ways to teach that incorporates ICT such as games and webquests.
On another note, while writing this I can see that predictive text is altering a lot of my spelling mistakes. Rather then making note of what I am doing wrong, I am allowing it to correct me. I don’t think that I would pass an English exam due to the terrible spelling, grammar and handwriting I must now have (I would probably have to give up due to hand cramp!). Surely this is a ‘legacy’ that can’t be made extinct through digital literacy?! It shocks me to think so, yet that is most likely my digital immigrant side in disbelief! I am myself known for abbreviating my text to ‘cos, g8, lol,’ and other shorthands. Perhaps we need a digital ‘dictionary’ for those immigrants not quite ‘with it’? ps I have always thought of lol as ‘lots of love’, only just got that one!
’The ‘digital natives’ debate: A critical review of the evidence’ by Sue Bennett, Karl Maton and Lisa Kervin
This article discusses how we should approach the new learning methods of digital natives and incorporate it into teaching today. It questions whether education is currently equipped to meet the needs of digital native students and if not then ‘radical changes in curriculum, pedagogy, assessment and professional development in education’ (Bennett et al, 2008) need to be made. It discussed how students’ technology practices may not be applicable to academic tasks so teachers should be able to guide their digital literacy to their benefit.
However, it also argues that there may not be enough evidence to suggest we make a change in our teaching methods. Although young people live their lives immersed in technology, technical skills can be influenced by home experiences e.g. some kids from a poorer community may have little or no access to computers. Therefore, we must not assume all students have such a high digital literacy and that changes need to be made as other students will be left behind.
This article is very interesting as I can see the views from those that support the change, and those that don’t. The younger generations seem to have access to such a vast amount of knowledge that they do seem to behave in a way that seems unacceptable to the older generation such as teenage pregnancies, drug and alcohol problems in the teens, getting involved with people on the internet that one might not have met in person.
My opinion on this reading
My opinion is that we need to find a balance between using technology to our advantage in schools and maintaining the old practices such as grammar. There are benefits from using technology to teach – I have only glanced at an interactive whiteboard but find it fascinating if a little scary that I should have to use one.
Which side of the debate am I on?
It’s hard to tell when I fall under the Digital Native bracket but show obvious signs of being a Digital Immigrant. If someone had told me that technology was going to advance so fast I would probably have paid more attention. Instead I let others do it for me, I get my fiancé to sort out any IT issues I have, do my online banking, put addresses in the GPS when in fact, I should learn these skills myself as at some point, I may be the only one around to do it.
I do believe there is a new generation of students who possess high technology skills and I am fully aware that as a teacher, I need to learn these skills to be able to teach efficiently and communicate with the students on their level.
The cartoon strip at the beginning of the blog outlines the concept of Digital Natives and Digital Immigrants. It grabs the reader’s attention at the beginning of the blog and injects a bit of humour into the topic.
The mind map of Digital Natives vs Digital Immigrants is a structured way of providing all the facts in relation to this topic.
Which learning style/s does this ICT support?
The cartoon strip and mind map support visual learning styles.
How could this ICT be implemented as a good cognitive tool within the learning environment?
The cartoon can be used to start a discussion with the students in the classroom about the differences between Digital Natives and Digital Immigrants and what category they think their parents or teachers fall under.
The mind map arranges the key facts of this topic in an easy to read graphic organiser.
How is this ICT enabling the development of creativity?
The cartoon strip requires the students to think about their own circumstances and to observe what digital native qualities they might contain.
The mind map shows students how contrasting yet related information can be organised in a clear, concise yet creative format.
Bennett, S., Maton, K & Kervin, L. (2008). The ‘digital natives’ debate: A critical review of the evidence’. British journal of Education Technolgy
Blackall, L. (2005) ‘Digital literacy and how it affects teaching and learning practices’. Retrieved from
Prensky, (2001) ‘Digiral Natives, Digital Immigrants’. Retrieved from