Digital Natives Debate

As I type this on my MacBook, I’m tweeting using my HTC Legend and listening on my iPod to a remix recorded on someone’s iPhone at a concert in France. Whilst this is happening, a mate of mine is upstairs playing Call of Duty on the Xbox Live network with people across the world. Am I a digital native? All signs at the moment are pointing towards yes.

Digital Native or Digital Immigrant?

Born in 1989, there is not one point in my life where I have not had a computer within an arm’s reach, starting off with the classic desktops which weighed more than my current car and to make it work you had to turn on and off the power both at the powerpoint, and then at the back of the computer, go have a bath or shower and by the time you got back it was almost finished loading. Arguably my favourite element was the dot-matrix printing. Printers these days don’t make enough noise. It really does sadden me.

With time I’ve moved forward to Windows 95, followed by 98 (the best operating system Windows ever released), XP and then finally, converting to the dark side (mainly because they had cookies) and in 2008, I bought my first Mac. It is rather true what they say, once you go Mac, you never go back (or something like that).

You might think I’m just taking up words to fill a specified limit, however I’m not! Honest! One theorist who we’ve looked at during my ICT based unit at university is Marc Prensky. Born in 1946, Prensky is a self confessed ‘digital immigrant’ and something of a revolutionist through his papers and teachings providing educators and students alike new methods of learning through 21st century equipment.

The future of learning

There is no doubt that the students in today’s society is vastly different to those from the 1950’s for instance, and it is this concept which Prensky continues to make in his article. Whether you want to label me as ‘Gen X’, the ‘D [Digital] Generation’, ‘Net Gen’ or incorrectly as the ‘iGen’, the thing to keep in mind is that technology is a HUGE part of my life and always will be.


There are a number of people who some (like me) label the digital immigrant population as just plain old and out of date. These immigrants grew up scribbling notes in the dirt, bashing two rocks together to record historical events down in pictogram form and even using and evil object which has earned the name, a bio pen. Horrible thoughts they are.

It is this generation who use technology as a means of ‘staying up to date’ and you will receive calls from asking if you got an email they sent you last night sending links to LOLcats or to the LOLcat Bible exclaiming it is a new and exciting thing.

The main thing here is to try and bring these two parties together, hopefully so that the natives can stop laughing at the lack of skills immigrants have to use the latest in presentation software – Microsoft PowerPoint. As well as this, immigrants need to realise that just because when they were growing up and at school, they studied in absolute silence and didn’t “TLK LYK DIS” that times have moved on.

Ultimately this all comes down to the communication methods used between the natives (students) and immigrants (generally teachers or parents). Sometimes it is important to “catch up with the others by going slower than them” (quoting The Simpsons again here if you didn’t notice). The question is, natives are ready to learn but are immigrants ready to educate?

Perhaps it’s time that the ‘masters’ let their students teach them something and stepped aside. Technology is here to stay, will you?


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