In the video Revolution in the Classroom and in Social Lives it was mentioned that teens today are more comfortable being public than previous generations were; they are not as concerned about sharing personal information and use less discretion with it. Instead of protecting their information they seem to want to let the world know all about themselves. Youth today routinely give out phone numbers, birthdays, email addresses, and show themselves via You Tube to newly met acquaintances.
Considering our times, when we hear more about predators and identify thieves, are young people too naïve and quick in their willingness to give out personal information, or is this just the new social norm with relatively small risk in providing this kind of information to “friends”? Should we instill a sense of caution in young people about freely disseminating their personal information and do we have a responsibility to help them discern when they should keep their information private or should we just them be teens?
February 20Change vs. Continuity
Digital technologies have influenced students today only in that they have more options and possibilities now then when I was in school. They may function differently and select novel modes to study and learn in, but I think fundamentally students are the same as when I was in school. Sure the world has changed in superficial respects, but underlying we find the same people now as in generations past—ones who have an underlying need to be taught.
In Marc Prensky’s article, Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants he asserts, regarding the decline of education, “…we ignore the most fundamental of its causes” because there exists this certain dichotomy between what he calls Digital Immigrant teachers and Digital Native students. Prensky attempts to make the case that both groups “think and process information fundamentally differently.” I like how Prensky uses the analogy of the Digital Immigrant retaining “to some degree, their accent” and his example of Digital Immigrants turning to the internet for information second rather than first. But the issue that arises in my mind is that when one is an immigrant, that one usually migrates into a place where there is an established and defined culture already extant with customs one is not fully familiar with. But this is not the case with digital technology. In its case it is not established culture, but still evolving, and the “immigrants” have had at least some exposure to its changes. So I think the line defining the two camps is less stark than Prensky presents. As an example, he says that Digital Immigrant instructors speak in an “outdated language…to teach a population that speaks an entirely new language.” An emerging new dialect perhaps, but I don’t think an entirely new language. Certainly the overall setting of the classroom is about the same as in the past and Digital Natives do understand the context and language to be spoken in it just as a child knows how he should speak at home compared to how he should speak in front of company. Since Digital Natives can speak the “language” of the Digital Immigrant fairly well and can switch languages rapidly, I think the term bilingual might be a more accurate descriptor than Digital Native.
Prensky further distances Digital Immigrants from Digital Natives by pointing out the differences in preferences between the two. He says that Digital Natives “receive information really fast…thrive on instant gratification and…prefer games to “serious” work.” This confuses me since I like these things too, yet according to Prensky I would be considered a Digital Immigrant. Moreover he states an absolute by saying, “Digital Immigrants don’t think their students can learn successfully while watching TV or listening to music…” That’s not always true. I know for me, even though I don’t listen to music when I study, I know that others can, and I don’t frown on that. Prensky also says that Digital Immigrants say, “…learning can’t be fun.” Again, I think learning can be great fun! So my question then is how much of a difference is there really between Digital Immigrants and Digital Natives and where is he coming up with the data to support this?
Prensky continues to drive the wedge between the two sides when he claims that in the view of Digital Natives “their education is not worth paying attention to compared to everything else they experience.” While this may be true of many Digital Immigrants, I imagine there are many Digital Native teachers who do the same thing. For example, my niece, who is in high school, is taking a digital photography class, which one would think should be technology rich and engaging. She says she dislikes the class because the teacher doesn’t teach the class anything. She says it’s more of a study hall with occasional pictures to turn in. This case in point highlights that it’s not always the Digital Immigrant versus Digital Native mentally that’s at issue; it may more accurately depend on how the teacher teaches, not necessarily with what mode the teacher teaches.
In support of this I did a little questioning of my Jr. High level students, who I substitute taught for this past week, and asked them about this, and without exception the said they didn’t think it mattered if a teacher understood their (the students’) “language” or their technology. They felt a teacher could be successful without knowing their ‘language’ and style.” Prensky himself even states, “It just depends on how it is presented.” But then this seems to contradict what he says elsewhere when he says, “Today’s teachers have to learn to communicate in the language and style of their students.”
One suggestion Prensky offers to make learning more interesting is using games as a medium for learning. I think this is a great idea because I have noticed that this method works great for me and others, and I’ve successfully tried to incorporate this at times in my classes. Not only do I find students having fun, but they are engaged and learning without always even knowing it. Of course, whether this works for all students or just certain populations needs to be tested.
So where does the road lead from here? Prensky asks, “Should Digital Native students learn the old ways, or should Digital Immigrant educators learn the new? “ I agree with Prensky that, “Digital Natives aren’t going backwards.” We are definitely going forward in this “Digital Age”, and even if students don’t get their education presented exactly in their own “native tongue” they can still be successful. English Language Learners are proof of that. Rather than forcing Digital Immigrants to conform to a system uncomfortable to them, I think they should be helped to become more aware of the technological world that is developing around them and new techniques that might interest today’s students. They should still be allowed to teach in the way they think best because they are professionals on the front lines. And it will be alright in the end because they’ll be happier teachers and the Digital Natives will, as Prensky says, “grow up and do it themselves.” It will undoubtedly eventually find equilibrium because as Digital Natives do grow up and become teachers themselves, they will understand the digital language and they will be able to find new ways to connect with the new upcoming crop of learners in more meaningful ways.
February 20Goals for Spring I 2010
As I set sail into EDUC 512 I have optimism about the tools I will learn to use for both personal and professional growth. I wish the current technology “revolution” had started when I was younger, when I had all the time in the world to learn how it all worked and how to use it. Now that it’s all so cutting edge and en vogue I’ve had little time to train myself in its functions. For a long while I’ve desired to catch-up and learn what it seems so many already know. Even though I’ve had experience setting up computers, replacing harddrives, DVD drives, and upgrading RAM memory and software, I know very little about blogs, wikis, podcasts, or voice threads. It’s amazing how one can be knowledgeable in certain technological areas yet so ignorant in others. In this course I’m enthusiastic to learn about these things which will increase my personal knowledge and at the same time will help me grow professionally by providing opportunities to experiment with the possibilities for using these tools in the classroom and sharing them with colleagues.
By the end of this class I would like to be able to understand how blogs function and how to navigate through them; I would like to learn how to create audio and video podcasts, how to upload them to a website, and learn specific ways they can be used to enhance student learning; and I want to understand the new and strange world of wiki’s—what they are, how they function, how I can use them with students, and their implications for the classroom.
Although these and others new tools can be utilized to “teach digitally” the question for me is not so much which ones are available, but rather when is it best to use them and how best should I use them? The fact is, technology is not always the best way to facilitate student learning, but it provides more color choices for the teacher’s palette.
As technology continues to change I think the implications for education will be unsettled until progress slows down and the educational world catches up. Because technology is evolving so rapidly no one knows how fast things will change or how fast the inventions of today will become obsolete tomorrow. As an example, within the last few years document cameras have emerged in every class room I have taught in as a substitute. Just as they have started to become mainstream, I’ve started to see many more Smartboards assembled. I think this relatively quick turnover is negative for teachers because it places heavy demands on them to stay current with technology use for the classroom at a time when administrations are pressuring teachers to incorporate technology instead of helping them realize that technology is another resource for helping students learn.
The implications of technology for students are smaller in one sense because they will only be taught the technology that is current and will not have to know “old” technology. One aspect that will be a plus for students learning technological skills will be that it will help them become more familiar with the technology movement in the world outside the classroom, which may help lead to more socially competent and connected citizens as well as instill a sense of global consciousness, which is good for everyone.
Hopefully, when I complete this course I will be one who can use my new technology skills to develop creative ways to help future students grow academically, socially, and or course, technologically.
February 13Having fun!