September 2010 Issue
August 22, 2010

NYSUT's tech blog: Digital Native or Digital Immigrant?

Source: NYSUT United

A Digital Native is a person who has grown up with digital technology — computers, the Internet, smart phones, and MP3 players (iPods).

A Digital Immigrant is someone who was not born into the digital world, but rather came to live there later in life by adopting various technologies in their personal and professional lives.

Marc Prensky, an author and game designer in education and learning, points out that today's K-12 and college students are the first generation to grow up entirely immersed in digital technology. Prensky writes: "Today's average college grads have spent less than 5,000 hours of their lives reading, but over 10,000 hours playing video games.

"The single biggest problem facing education today is that our Digital Immigrant instructors, who speak an outdated language (that of the pre-digital age), are struggling to teach a population that speaks an entirely new language."

I can see his point in my own kids, as well as the college students I teach. They are used to receiving enormous amounts of information from a variety of digital channels. They multi-task and work on several unrelated tasks at the same time — and in many cases they can pull it off. As much as it pains me to say it, I'm not fluent in their digital language — I'm not a native; I moved to their digital world when I was an adult.

I live and breathe technology every day, but I'm still an immigrant. I'm trying to learn how to live in this new land, but more importantly, I'm trying to figure out how to deal with the natives.