In the article “Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants” by Marc Prensky, he first establishes his terms ‘Digital Natives’ and ‘Digital Immigrants’. A Digital Native is someone who has spent their entire lives surrounded by and using computers, video games, digital music players, video cams, cell phones, and all the other toys and tools of the digital age; whilst a Digital Immigrant is someone who was not born into the digital world but have, at some later point in their lives, become fascinated by and adopted or most aspects of the new technology. He then proceeds to discuss how the minds of Digital Natives have physically changed to think and process information fundamentally differently which affects thinking patterns. Prensky thus describes this change like a singularity, proposing its significance in human history. He also suggests that today’s students are no longer the people our education system was designed to teach. This is due to Digital Natives being used to parallel processing, multi-tasking and receiving information really fast. They also prefer random access, function best when networked and thrive on instant gratification and frequent rewards. Finally, they prefer games to “serious work”. As a result of this change, Prensky recommends that Digital Immigrant teachers must reconsider and adopt a better methodology to teach the content to Digital Natives.

In this blog, I will be for his argument that the people in our world today can be classified into Digital Natives and Immigrants, that the minds of Digital Natives have changed and that the education system will have to be reformed and developed to suit Digital Natives.

First and foremost, Prensky’s definitions of Digital Natives and Immigrants is true as technology has significantly changed since the beginning of the 20th Century. Beginning with floppy disks, Discmans, DVDs and cellphones; then with the onslaught of the flash drive, the iPod, smartphones and tablets and even streaming videos from the web; technology has never had a leap this big since the proliferation of digital computers and recording. A new, smaller and faster storage medium, MP3 player and personal device has made digital information more accessible than ever. Along with all this, huge internet companies like Youtube (2005), Facebook (2004), Amazon (1994) and Twitter (2006) have all been part of the brain-changing process of Digital Natives.

Secondly, Digital Immigrants would have had all this technology been introduced to them a fair amount after they were born, forcing them to change the way they think to learn to use it and apply it in their life. Digital Natives however are born into the world of technology and their minds are already accustomed to this new concept straight after birth – leading to a redesigned brain.

Thirdly, due to the absence of technology in the lives Digital Immigrants, they had been forced to limited physical resources such as teachers, textbooks, books, parents and their friends – resulting in a completely opposite mindset of a Digital Natives’. Nowadays, the World Wide Web is a very crucial system which has a wealth of information to be shared. Social media platforms enable and encourage international mindedness and opens up Digital Natives to a wider perspective, yet again altering their minds to learn in a completely new way to Digital Immigrants.

In my school I think it has definitely moved to a more modern Digital-Native-like mindset as technology is being and integrated more into our learning. In terms of hardware there are IT suites with iMacs for each student in the class (plus even more Macbook Airs for portability); Flat screen TVs have been placed on walls around the school and finally all classrooms have a smart board accompanied by a stereo sound system. Software has also been used to enhance our learning such as the use of programs such as Quizlet and Kahoot equipped with games and puzzles to help retain information, and most importantly the main school system Firefly which asserts the Prensky’s points of instantaneity and random access – where teachers can share resources and make it easier to see when tasks are due. This concept of an online diary can be a substitute for a physical one, which Digital Natives may prefer.

I asked my parents what they thought of Prensky’s terms and definitions and as expected was informed that they agree with it and find that they fit the category of a Digital Immigrant. Next, I asked my sister for her opinions and that was quite fascinating. She said that due to the year she was born (1996), she would be a Digital Native, but she also discussed how she does not think these terms would fit in other 3rd world countries as technology would have been introduced much later on compared to 1st world countries – thus the terms are also affected by socioeconomic status. Moreover, she also spoke about how the influence of social media affects what type of Digital Native you are, so if you were born before social media kicked off or before.

In this article, the social/ethical issues that have been raised are: Policies, Globalisation, People and machines, Equality of Access and Standards.

In my opinion, I think Prensky has introduced a very important and significant opinion which most people would agree to. The terms Digital Native and Digital Immigrant can be applicable to most people in 1st world countries but I think it would not for 3rd world countries. This is because the time when technology was introduced to them was different compared to other more developed countries, so their definition of a Digital Natives and Immigrants would be different. On the other hand, I do also believe that schools have had a good start in incorporating the use of technology in teaching, but I would hope that in the future my school would further integrate its use. For certain professions I believe the conventional way of learning seems to be the most efficient, but most professions could have a little more mixture with technology. For the time being I am happy learning from both the “old” way and “new” way as it bests suits me and my learning.

 

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