Jun 08

I was quite surprised when one of my students recommended me the DigiKid blog. This DigiKid ‘Brad’ (quite possibily with the help of his DigiDad), may very well be an archetype of one of Mark Prensky’s so called “digital natives“. One day we watched one of the Brad the Digikids vodcasts at the end of a Year 5 class. In this video DigiKid demonstrates the ability of his PSP (Portable PlayStation) to detect free and open wireless networks (these are common in the USA especially around public libraries) in his neighbourhood. While I made it clear that I didn’t condone this behaviour, some students gave up 5 minutes of their lunchtime engaged while I explained a little about how wireless networks work. On the flipside when I tried to explain the significance of this new technology in the staffroom afterwards, I lost most of my fellow “digital immigrants” within about 30 seconds - admittedly it is quite boring to the uninvolved! Check out the DigiKID PSP wardriving episode here.

Marc Prensky’s idea about “Digital Natives and Immigrants” help me clarify my suspicions about the differences between the generations:

Today’s students are Digital Natives. They are “native speakers” of the digital language of computers, video games and the Internet.

So what does that make the rest of us? Those of us who were not born into the digital world but have come to it later in our lives are, compared to them, Digital Immigrants. And as we Digital Immigrants learn – like all immigrants, some better than others – to adapt to their environment, we always retain, to some degree, an “accent,” that is, our foot in the past. The “Digital Immigrant accent” can be seen in such things as turning to the Internet for information second rather than first; in reading the manual for a program rather than assuming that the program itself will teach us to use it; in printing out our emails (or having our secretary print them out for us – an even “thicker” accent); or in never changing the original ring of our cell phone. Those of us who are Digital Immigrants can, and should, laugh at ourselves and our “accent.”

But this is not just a joke. It’s very serious, because the single biggest problem facing education today is that our Digital Immigrant instructors, who speak an outdated language (that of the pre-digital age), are struggling to teach a population that speaks an entirely new language.
Source: http://www.hotlib.com/articles/show.php?t=Digital_Natives_and_Immigrants

More of Marc’s writings on the positive effects of video games can be found at www.marcprensky.com/writing/default.asp.

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