When I first saw the required reading list from Tuesday night’s class, I thought, ‘oh boy, that’s a lot of reading’, and when the assigned blog post for the week was to discuss/make sense of the topics they covered, I thought, ‘how am going to be able to do that?’ Turns out the readings/viewings were really interesting and it was easy to pick out a few things that I could identify with or connect to. Guess I shouldn’t have judged things so quickly!
I tackled the ‘Do “Digital Natives” Exist’ video first since it was at the top of the list and the 5:34 time code didn’t seem too intimidating.
After I got over how quickly the presenter was talking and re-watched specific sections a time or two, I was able to really think about what he was saying and pick out a few key points that resonated with me. I had never heard the terms ‘digital native’ or ‘digital immigrant’ before, and I don’t think I agree with such a concrete distinction between people – especially if the distinction is based on whether or not you were born before or after 1980. I was born after 1980 and I would definitely not consider myself a ‘digital native’;’digital immigrant’ would even be a stretch some days 🙂
At the three minute mark of the video, the presenter posed a really interesting question. He asked, “is there a danger in assuming that they [digital natives] don’t need to be taught how to computer?” My answer would be a resounding ‘yes’. We cannot assume that every individual under the age of 38 knows everything there is to know about technology or will be able to understand new programs, apps, etc, intuitively. And even if they are able to navigate their way through the digital world, are they doing it appropriately, with kindness and understanding? Do they know what it means to be a digital citizen? Do they even understand why that’s important?
He also states that “in calling people digital natives we’re coercing comfort into knowledgeability” (4:30). An interesting point to ponder. Just because someone is comfortable having a device in their hands doesn’t mean they understand its full capabilities or its limitations. There is always room for education, and in assuming that there isn’t, we are doing our students and ourselves a disservice.
While I found Prensky’s distinction between ‘Digital Natives and Digital Immigrants’ to be too cut and dry, I was able to connect to David White’s notion of ‘Visitors and Residents‘. His explanation of our relationship with the internet being based on our motivation to engage and connect with it really made sense to me. We decide what we are going to take from it, and how much of ourselves we are willing to give. We gauge our own comfort level and dip in accordingly. We decide which tools to use and determine our level of social engagement, all the while remembering that what we put out into the world will continue to ripple and spread out, never to be reigned in again.
Nathan Jurgenson’s “The IRL Fetish” posed a viewpoint that I hadn’t considered. There is always talk about how addicted we are to technology and how we are missing out on the beauty around us when we have our noses buried in our smartphones, and that we are not appreciating the moments around us as they happen because we are viewing them through the lenses of our cameras. Jurgenson states that, ” Nothing has contributed more to our collective appreciation for being logged off and technologically disconnected than the very technologies of connection”, and that, “We have never appreciated a solitary stroll, a camping trip, a face-to-face chat with friends, or even our boredom better than we do now.” What a different way to look at things. The technology that we carry with us and immerse ourselves in helps us to have a deeper appreciation for the simple things. It helps us to value the time when we can turn it off, walk away, and take in the world around us. This goes to show that perspective is a wonderful thing. We can choose the way we want to view something – the whole glass half full or glass half empty analogy. It also speaks to the idea of balance. The balance of technology in our personal lives, but also in our professional lives. How much is too much? Not enough? An important question to remember as we plan for our students, and one with as many different answers as there are people who pose it.