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Stopping the use of unqualified and ridiculous terms such as 'Digital Native' and 'Digital Immigrant'

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Thursday, 27 Feb 2014, 18:32

The 'visitor' vs. 'resident' differentiation rings true and is based on sound research. Prensky's original ideas of the 'digital native' have no foundation at all either in his own research (he did none) or even on an academic literature research. I look forward to returning to the papers, notes and discussions on this that I have in this blog - even showing how I went from niave believer to outright objector.

If you read most of Prensky's output as I have now done you will either be horrified or laugh or cry at the absurd statements that he makes and the truly riidiculous attempts at 'cod' academic writing where references are, to put it bluntly, complete buncum. He will quote, as if it counts, the very words used by Spock in an episode of Star Trek ... and give this as a footnote and reference as if watching the episode yourself will in anyway qualify his arguement, or he will quote someone and say, 'Mr Smith from England writing to The Times' as if this is a recognised and accepted way to reference - there is rarely any opportunity to check the references he offers - I've tried often and repeatedly fail. He gained an MA from Harvard, he states, but rarely reaches the most basic academic standards in much of his writing. Take a close look at 'Teaching Digital Natives' - it is counterproductive and will go against anything teachers have been taught. He is rightfully accused of hyperbole and scarmongering. Because he is controversial it does spark debate. There have been too many 'catchy phrases' regarding eLearning. There are now many research papers, by senior, experienced academics and their teams who repeat their research with students every few years. There has never been a 'digital native' - they are as illusive as the yeti. Invaluable to try and define different user types when it comes to technology, but it is as complex as any grouping, tagging or labelling of people can be.

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Digital Parent - neither Natives nor Immigrants

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Saturday, 28 Jan 2012, 15:52

I've been taken in by and am now set against the idea of that there is a generational difference when it comes to use of technology - yes those starting university today clearly have different experiences with the kit than we/I did (I was at Oxford in 1981-84).

The computer was in a lab. My Dad had a Microwriter. By 1985 I might have had an Amstrad and a pager.

My point with this Digital Natives thing is that the term was coined without foundation. It is now being debunked. How come the academic instituions went along with it? Had this faux pas occured in the sciences propper rather than social sciences the ho-ha would have featured on the Today Programme.

This isn't a red top newspaper or titletattle on local radio, so why get taken in by the hyperbole.

Anyway, the OU research folk have been busy these last few months releasing all kinds of papers on the theme. Here are some of them.

It is has never been generational.

'Our research suggests that we should be cautious about distinguishing a specific generation because although there are age differences there are additional factors differentiating students, specifically gender and disciplinary differences. We find significant age related differences but we are reluctant to conclude that there is a clear disconnection between a Net generation composed of Digital Natives and older students.' ( Jones and Ramanau, 2010)

Read these for more

Jones, C and Ramanau, R (2010)

TECHNOLOGY ENHANCED LEARNING? UK Open University, United Kingdom

Jones, C A new generation of learners? (2010) The Net Generation and Digital Natives

Jones. C and Healing, G (2010) Net Generation Students



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H800 WK 1 Activty 5 Part 1

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Edited by Jonathan Vernon, Sunday, 26 Feb 2012, 05:53


The idea of the Digital Natives piqued Dr Gregor Kennedy’s interest as did the alarmist talk, particularly from North America that radical change in teaching would be required because a generation of Internet savvy students were entering tertiary education on mass.

Dr Kennedy, with a background in psychology, was particularly interested because he doubted the claims made by Prensky regarding neuroplasticity.

What Kennedy wished to establish was what are students’ experiences with technology and what therefore would be the best course of action for institutions as it is they, not the student who would have to make the decisions about the technology being used.

What is more, if these students were ‘Digital Natives’ then the staff would be ‘Digital Immigrants,’ so by including them in the survey Kennedy could consider both facets of the claim.

It was revealed that staff were more familiar and advanced with the practical tools, though a minority of students (15%) had more experience with Web 2.0 tools than some staff. i.e. there is a mixed and complex picture.

Kennedy and his eight person team took a measured and evidence-based approach.

This research debunked the idea of the Digital Immigrant as well as the Digital Native. It wasn’t surprising to find that academic staff were more adept in their information literacy skills than student, in this population at least the digital divide was in fact in the opposite direction to that promoted by Prensky.

Importantly there was ‘a raft of core technologies where students and staff show similar profiles’. i.e. there is no sweeping generational divide between groups at all or any suggestion that the way teaching and learning is carried out in higher education should undergo some radical change to accommodate these students.

The reality is that students come in with a rather simplistic reliance on just two or three limited tools, such as Google and Wikipedia.

Just because they are using widely available and hugely popular tools, in 2006 MySpace, though by now surely Facebook. What is more there is great diversity in students’ familiarity with blogging, podcasting and wikis, using the web for general information, instant messaging and mobiles.

There are cultural differences in the way different groups in the community are using technologies. In one papers a student asked “what is a blog?” Some students were just unaware of some of these technologies – which greatly surprised the researches, while in other cases some students were more familiar and adept at Web 2.0 tools that university staff.

Access to and familiarity with Web 1.0 and Web 2.0 tools is complex; nothing suggested a single cohort could be identified, certainly not one based on date of birth.

‘If you’re going to use these kinds of technologies, you need to be mindful of the diversity of the student groups that you’re using them with’.

The Three universities studied:

Around 2,000 student surveys.

1. Melbourne, traditional, founded around 1850. 2. Wollongong in the 1970s with broader teaching and learning and often the first time someone from a family has attended university. 3. Charles Sturt University a newer university.

The thing that’s important is that we’re going in to try and find evidence to support a construct that has been talked about in our community.


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