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The Digital "Immigrant" Compared with the Digital "Native"

DIFFERENT THAN BEFORE? SAME AS IT'S ALWAYS BEEN?

TECHNOLOGY AND THE INTER-GENERATIONAL EXPERIENCE

This week we opened our class by looking at Marc Prensky's metaphor of "digital natives" and "digital immigrants." Prensky argues that young people today are fundamentally different than they were ten, twenty, fifty, of five hundred years ago. But is this true?

Take some time to reflect on the students in your classroom currently. To what extent have digital technologies influenced them to the point that they are different than when you were in school? To what extent are your students the same as when you were their age? Do you agree with Prensky? Disagree? How? Why?

Please explain yourself fluently and insightfully in approximately 700, and pepper your comments with some quotes taken from the articles handed out in class.

This blogsite posting will come due at the beginning of our next class meeting on April 26th, 2010.

THEN VS. NOW: COMPARE AND CONTRAST

Comments

Henry David Thoreau once stated that “men have become the tools of their tools”. Though Thoreau opposed technology and preferred a life of solitude, I do agree with him in the fact that society is shaped by the “tools” that are available. Marc Prensky echoes this assertion in his article “Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants,” when he declares that the students in today’s classrooms have grown up in a technologically driven society and that consequently these students “think and process information fundamentally differently from their predecessors” (Prensky, 2001). Because students are “tools of their tools” and have been largely shaped by their constant exposure to technology, they are significantly different than students in the past and require a different type of education. After reading the articles, and reflecting on my experience teaching in the classroom, I agree with Prensky that today’s students have changed radically and that our education has to change as well to better serve this population.
Today’s students, who Prensky refers to as the “Digital Natives”, are very different than those even ten to twenty years ago. Though students in todays society may still go through similar experiences in life as those years ago, their constant exposure to technology has changed these students. Dr. Bruce D. Perry asserts that “Different kinds of experiences lead to different brain structures” (Prensky, 2001). It has been proven that the brain changes based on the stimulation it receives outside. Because of these new brain structures students are not able to learn effectively in the same way that was successful for previous generations. In the classroom it is important that students are kept constantly engaged. Pensky’s article stated that the average student asks a question every 10 hours. I find this stat to be surprising and can see why students begin to lose focus. It is important to keep students constantly interactive with group and class discussions and by appealing to these students with the technology that they are used to. Because of this constant exposure to Technology and receiving information quickly, I have also noticed that many students have a “now” mentality. Students want to receive their information quickly and sometimes have trouble grasping the concept that learning is a process and that the finished product sometimes takes time and refinement, a problem I have found with students in writing. In my experience with coaching, I think that specific strategy can be utilized to appeal to this “now” mindset of many athletes. The “hurry up or 2-minute offense” has been very successful for many coaches because it appeals to the mindset and attention span of the changing athlete. Because these students think and learn differently, a problem has begun to surface in the education system. Older “Digital Immigrant” teachers who “speak an outdated language, are struggling to teach a population that speaks an entirely new language” (Prensky, 2001). A teacher that can’t speak the language can’t teach the language and reach their student population.
Because the student in today’s classroom has been raised in an environment and culture different than those of their predecessors, their thought process is affected and it is important that the education system begins to cater to their learning needs. A new type of learning system needs to be devised, a sort of “Edutainment” as Prensky coins that incorporates the technology of these new types of students. It is important that learning is educational and also fun so that students will be interested and focused on their instruction. If students are as focused in school as they are on videogames or other interests, they will then really be able to learn. Students will only learn if they are attentive because “it takes sharply focused attention to rewire a brain” (Prensky, 2001). Traditional methodologies that were commonly used in the past that include step-by-step instruction no longer keeps these students’ attentions. Though I do believe that this step-by-step instruction is sometimes necessary in education, this new generation is concerned with the final product and will sometimes lose focus on the way. Prensky suggests that new methods need to be utilized to reach these students, and in his own opinion he believes that inventing computer/videogames to teach important content would be very beneficial. Prensky supports his claim by citing the success of CAD Software, , The Lightspan Partnership, and Click Health’s use of video games in learning. The use of video/computer games in the classroom is a valuable tool in the learning process. Though full invention and adaptation of “digital native methodologies for all subjects” may take time and money, it is important to remember that we are educating a new type of student that learns differently. I believe that I am in an interesting situation when relating to Prensky’s article. While I was educated in a “digital immigrant classroom,” I am somewhat of a “Digital Native”. This puts me in an interesting role where I can be aware of problems that face our students in learning and utilize methods that facilitate effective learning.

I cannot help but agree with the overall theme of this week’s reading as well as many key ideas and feel as though Marc Prensky has made an incredible revelation as to the future of the educational system. While I am not totally appreciative of the apparent dichotomy that Prensky has presented, an evident black versus white distinction, I do believe he has managed to identify with great insight one of the most emergent issues present within the educational system today. In regards to the dichotomy I mentioned, I can’t help feel as though there are stages of compatibility within this period of transition, that the farther apart in age the educator is to their student, the less they will have in common, but that teachers that have been more a part of the current state of technological trends will better understand the way in which their students process information (think of a Venn Diagram along a timeline of technological development, each circle being a micro-generation of individuals).
In an article now a monumental 10 years old, Prensky talks about how the past generations of educators are, in a sense, the immigrants to a system that has slipped past their own grasp as the new generation of students, the “natives” to this era of technological innovation, have been essentially programmed to think in a way not compatible with the established mode of teaching. Schools and teachers are simply are not keeping up with methods tailored to today’s new school of learners and thinkers. A major, if not the major point is that “our digital immigrant thinkers, who speak an outdated language, are struggling to teach a population that speaks and entirely new language” (Prensky, 2001). The author goes beyond that to explain that it is not just the language of education that is no longer accessible with today’s students, but the mode in which they absorb and process information has also radically changed. “Digital Natives are used to receiving information really fast” (Prensky, 2001), he states, and goes on to list many dynamics contrary to the educational norms set in schools by which these Natives receive information.
A major component that I believe Presnky and myself greatly agree on is the very apparent contrast between standardized educational input and virtually everything else that the Digital Native processes on a daily basis. The problem is manifested through outdated methods of teaching that do not appeal to the many forms of entertainment and recreational stimulation that the current generation of learners process almost constantly. “Digital Immigrant instructors make their education not worth paying attention to compared to everything else [their students] experience”, he states, and I feel as though this issue is a deep-rooted one. In looking at the current system of educational practice present in today’s schools, one cannot help but wonder how they have showed any success in shaping the minds of students, especially in the past few decades. Our current methods, which stemmed from the industrial revolution, has students being manufactured as products from their factory-like schools wherein they are lumped together in classes with no common factors beyond their similar age, despite the fact that they may be different types of learners progressing at different paces, with different strengths and weaknesses. This method may have worked in the past, but with today’s students operating in a totally different way ninety percent of the time, how can they possible operate within the confines of this structure?
Prensky himself states that is highly unlikely that the new generations of Natives will be able to successfully adhere to this system, because their interests and even brain chemistry is radically different from students of the past. The author looked at a specific example of a successful learning experience tailored to the learning methods of the new generation of learners, his anecdote of the developing of the CAD software The Monkey Wrench Conspiracy, but I couldn’t help feel as though this was more than a concise example of how different Natives think, but rather, a model by which the educational system must reform to adapt to the needs of the new generation of students. Learning as edutainment in order to compete with the multitudes of other stimuli facing today’s youth.
In the second article, Prensky’s argument became more concise and fact driven beyond his generalizations and observations. He talks about the concept of neuroplasticity, the notions that brains are ever evolving and adapting in order to best process information. In regards to this concept, the question is once again raised as to how students could possibly alternate their methods of informational absorption to fit within the school modes when so much of their thinking is done in a completely different way. Students’ minds are steadily moving away a sequential, linear process of learning to a more “hypertextual” way of thinking. One exceptional example Prensky chooses to focus on is the development of the student as a capable reader, and how the brain must be trained in order to operate in this way, when there are much more effective ways of information dissemination ever enticing the potential learner.
It helps to think of it this way, that at about the same age students are learning to read, they are also “learning” to watch television. That while they are devoting a significant amount of time and effort to a single idea or story, at all ours of the day, across a virtually incomprehensible number of channels, there are stories and shows being displayed at the same time on TV, and in a much simpler fashion. This concept is even more emphasized when the student begins to wrap their brains around the concept of the internet and all the potential it has.
I feel as though Prensky’s article is just the beginning of a much grand discussion that must come, regardless of how hard to fathom it may be, that will bring about a very radical change in the educational system necessary to compete with, basically, everything in the lives of today’s students.

Change Vs. Continuity
In his article Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants, Marc Prensky claims that, “Our students have changed radically,” and that, “today’s students are no longer the people our educational system was designed to teach.” I agree with both statements as this has been the case throughout the history of our educational system. Effective educators have constantly made changes to their teaching methods in order to cater to the specific needs of their pupils. At each stage in our history, schools have addressed the needs of students by providing the technological advances available at the time. From creating lessons that required a typewriter at one point to demanding the use of PowerPoint presentations in the current school system. Due to the rapid changes in the technological advances in the last decade, schools are constantly trying to keep up with these changes with little success. It is true that a major change needs to take place in the current system, but it is not the first time that a technological reform was undertaken in the school system.
According to Prensky, “today’s students K through college represent the first generation to grow up with this new technology.” As a result, the present generation of students is comfortable with technology and is more receptive when technology is used. For this reason, it is vital that current and future educators adapt the idea of using the most modern technology in their classroom to a certain extent. According to Dr. Bruce D. Perry, “Different kinds of experiences lead to different brain structure.” While it is vital for teachers to be open to using modern technology and teaching techniques, it is not necessary to alter lesson plans completely towards digital medias.
Contrary to what Prensky argues, one could attribute the issue of “Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants” to the generational gap between teachers and students. The existence of an immigrant and a native will always be there when it comes to comparing any generational preferences and habits. Being a part of an older generation, teachers will always be seen as immigrants when entering their students’ world. This issue has always existed and the rapid advance in technology in the recent years has come to amplify this eternal matter. It is a reality that “our Digital Immigrant instructors, who speak an outdated language, are struggling to teach a population that speaks an entirely new language,” (Prensky, 2001), but with or without the technological language students and teachers seldom speak the same language and often live in different worlds.
Just as Prensky suggested, contemporary educators need to do what early educators have done in order to be effective teachers. They need to be “learning new ways to do old stuff” (Prensky, 2001). I agree that anyone who wants to be an effective teacher in the 21st century needs to adapt “materials to the language of Digital Natives” (Prensky, 2001). In general teachers need to keep their lessons and teaching methods relevant to their pupils’ world in order to contribute to their academic success. I agree with Prensky in that there is a need for teacher to become part of this digital age in order to be successful educators.
To conclude; I would argue that it would actually be harmful to students if we moved entirely to digital media to teach our students. Sure, we can use technology to enhance our lessons and engage our students here and there. Technology can be a great tool. However, it could also be a hindrance. If we show too many PowerPoint, too many movies, students will lose their ability to open and read a book or to take notes. Technology makes teachers' and students' lives easier at times and makes learning convenient. However, what are we willing to sacrifice for convenience?

Before reading the article by Prensky, I was apprehensive with the idea that digital technologies have influenced the abilities of our students. When I read the article, I couldn’t help but change my viewpoint. Prensky stated “that our students have changed radically. Today’s students are no longer the people our educational system was designed to teach.” Regardless of technology, the current educational system has changed throughout the years to tailor to the needs of our students. For example, during the desegregation times, schools were forced to provide adaptations to their lessons by introducing multicultural education to the student population. The list can go on and on in regards to creating adaptations. The difference in education today is that technology has provided a really big discontinuity (Prensky, 2001). Prensky stated that singularity is an event which changes things so fundamentally that there is absolutely no going back. “This singularity is the arrival and rapid dissemination of digital technology in the last decades of the 20th century” (Prensky, 2001).
I could not agree more with Prensky that digital technology has changed the landscape and the thinking process of our students. These so called digital natives, native speakers of the digital language of computers, have a whole new way of thinking and processing information from their predecessors (Prensky, 2001). These students have grown up in a time where the usage of computers, the internet, Skype, cell phones, lap tops, and social media are an integral part of their daily lives. Students use text and social media sites to socialize with peers at all times of the day. Cell phones give them the ability to access this information with lightning fast speeds. Today’s students are used to instantaneous information given to them and it is this disconnect that has teachers struggling to maintain control in their classrooms. Current teachers are considered to be digital immigrants meaning that they are not born of the digital language and learn it rather than having it as almost an innate behavior like the children born into it (Prensky, 2001). The teachers are now speaking a foreign language to these students and the students are responding with boredom. It is no longer a safe assumption to teach these children in the same manner we taught their predecessors. As stated before teachers need to close this technological gap and find new adaptations to their lessons in order to engage these students.
Regardless of being a digital native or a digital immigrant extensive changes need to be made to the educational system in order for the current student populations to succeed. Teacher needs to still focus on the traditional curriculum such as reading, writing, arithmetic, logical thinking, and understanding. Teachers now need to focus on the technological aspect. They also need to include content that can utilize software, hardware, politics, ethics, and even robotics into their lessons (Prensky, 2001). Teachers that do not possess the skills to teacher this type of content need to familiarize themselves with it so that they can help our youth succeed. Teachers have a the benefit of working with colleagues to adapt materials instead of inventing them. Teachers in a school or school district can work together to combine ideas and resources to develop an integrated technology based standard to be applied in all subjects. This is still and will remain the problem with the current educational system until these radical changes are met. The school system for now is the same as it has been the past 50 years because the legacy process is in use. The current system still teaches the legacy process that current digital natives find outdated and boring. Until the schools realize that the technological gap needs to be closed, the engagement gap in school will widen. The time for change is now.

I remember the day that I created my “Myspace” account as being one of the most exciting days of my high school career. I was officially part of the in-crowd. I could finally join in on the drama and excitement that consumed the majority of my student body’s conversations. I had to race my sister to the computer after school so that I could get in some quality Myspace hours -or as my parents thought- homework on the computer. I would always keep another window open so it appeared that I was working. I pulled the old comic book in the textbook trick that we discussed briefly in class on Monday.

It has now been six years since I graduated high school. Observing the school scene as a substitute teacher, the technology is different, but the drama remains the same. Now, I find myself confiscating a lot of cell phones that were open to the student’s Facebook page. On one instance, the student was trying to watch a movie! Filmmakers get paid the big bucks to capture the viewer’s attention for an hour and a half. Teachers are paid poorly, but are now having to compete with these filmmakers for an hour of attention. The lectures, or should I say performances, now have to be captivating and theatrical.

In Marc Prensky’s “Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants,” he argues that “the single biggest problem facing education today is that our Digital Immigrant instructors, who speak an outdated language, are struggling to teach a population [of Digital Natives] that speaks an entirely new language.” Do I agree? Yes. As our society progresses to find new ways to get information faster and cheaper, so do our students. Teaching digitally means teaching efficiently. The sooner the answer is found, the more time there is to explore deeper into the subject matter. Digital Natives do not want to waste their time on the journey, they want the finish-line and they want it now. I see nothing wrong with this. The Monkey Wrench Conspiracy was a computer game invented by Prensky’s staff that proved that a fast and fun teaching style can work. They were able to convince Digital Immigrant professors that their content can be taught with “random access, speed, urgency and computer movies” and still result in a learned topic. If digital immigrant professors revise their educational approach, they will be more successful in making learning fun. Once you make learning fun, the students will want to learn and not see it as work.

Exposure to media has changed our students’ brains. “The brain changes and organizes itself differently based on the inputs it receives.” If we could eliminate completely all video games, cell phones, and computers, our students would not receive these stimulations that changes connections of the brain and our old methods of teaching would work just fine. However, this would be taking a giant step backwards in communication, culture and our economy. So why not change our approach to teaching so that we can effectively utilize the way the brain works? If we implement the best way for these “physiological different” brains to acquire and retain information, it will be easier for the teacher to communicate and for the student to understand the topic. Teachers need to embrace the change rather than fight it.

Games are excellent ways to trick students into learning. As educators, we need to do whatever it takes to teach our students. If this means that we must learn a completely foreign language, than so be it. At some point, we will become fluent and it will all come easy to us. Azusa Pacific University prides itself in creating Responsive, Informed, and Ethical teachers. We need to be responsive by adapting our methods to the changing needs of our Digital Native students. We need to be informed by taking the time and effort to learn about new technologies. We need to be ethical by keeping our students’ best interest in mind at all times.

Reflecting on when I was in elementary, junior high, and high school, I recall very little technology being using in the classroom. However, when there was technology involved, it as always very popular amongst the students. For example, I went to a small, private elementary school growing up. There were no computers in the class (or even in the school except maybe in the principal’s office) when until about fourth grade. My fourth grade teacher had set up a math game on the classroom computer, and we were able to play it if we got all of our homework done. The game was incredible. It consisted of little snow elves walking around solving math problems (with your help, of course), and they more they solved, the more gold they would attain to buy materials. Needless to say, every kid in the class wanted to be the one playing the game, and would rush to be the first to get our homework done. Looking back at that experience, it’s clear that fun video games or internet based sites that are legitimately educational are necessities, and I think today’s teachers are starting to figure that out. The more I observe in the public schools, the more computers I see in the classroom, the more students I see taking computer classes, the more I see students required to type up their assignments and use the internet to complete projects.

After reading Marc Prensky’s article on Digital Natives and Digital immigrants and reflecting on my own learning experiences, I agree that “...today’s students think and process information fundamentally differently from their predecessors,” meaning, students today think differently thank their parents and teachers. Prensky believes that “...our student’s brains have physically changed- and are different from [their parent’s and teacher’s brains]- as a result of how they grew up.” I completely agree with this. I would consider myself a part of the Digital Native group because I am twenty-two years old, and have had computers, video games, and cell phones in my house for as long as I can remember. I was a lot more restricted than children younger than me because of my parent’s house rules, but I still remember playing Super Mario Brothers for hours when I was just six years old. That being said, I understand and can relate to Prensky’s quote, “The cognitive differences of the Digital Natives [and the Digital Immigrants] cry out for new approaches to education with a better “fit.” School was never easy for me, and I can recall feeling bored often times in elementary school before I made the conscious decision to really make school an important part of my life despite how difficult it was. But I was ALWAYS interested when I got to play a game or use the computer in class. So why, as an instructor, would I NOT utilize technology in my classroom when I have had personal experiences with technology having a positive effect on my learning? Prensky describes the brain of a normal teenager today and the relevance and success stories of using games and educational based technology in the classroom, and I completely agree that instructors need to take the responsibility of recognizing the learning differences of our youth today, and then create a learning environment for their students that is engaging and interesting.

In my opinion, the first step is to see what’s out there. Become familiar with what your students are interested in-what games they play on the computer or on their x-box, playstation, wii, etc. and go from there. Learn about wikis and blogs, make them age appropriate and pleasing to the eyes of your students, and then utilize it on a daily basis. I am convinced that they will be much more inclined to complete their homework assignments if their homework involves watching a video or playing an online game (that, of course, is educational) rather than sitting down and working on 100 problems on a white sheet of paper. According to Prensky, we have a huge effect on how students feel about their education. Prensky encourages instructors to “..accept the fact that they have become Immigrants into a new digital world, and to look to their own creativity, their Digital Native students, their sympathetic administrators and other sources to help them communicate their still-valuable knowledge and wisdom in that world’s new language,” and I could not agree with him more.

When I take the time to reflect on the current students in the classroom in which I work in, and take into account the extent to which digital technologies have influenced them, it is to a point that is significantly different than when I was in school. Even though computers and other technology, such as overhead projectors and videos were part of the general curriculum when I was going to school, they certainly were not nearly as influential and domineering. Nowadays, technology that is found within a common cell phone, like the i-phone, has many times the computing power than say a computer in the 1980’s that occupied a whole room! Thus, more elaborate, effective, and useful applications are available on a wide array of technological gadgets that can be carried easily from one environment to another. The relative ease of availability of technology, especially for those whom have been submerged in it from birth, I believe has changed the thinking patterns of people. Marc Prensky states in Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants that “…[i]t is now clear that as a result of this ubiquitous environment and the sheer volume of their interaction with it, [that] today’s students think and process information fundamentally differently from their predecessors. These differences go far further and deeper than most educators suspect or realize. [That is to say that]…different kinds of experiences lead to different brain structures” (Prensky, 2001). While I agree with Prensky’s idea that technology has fundamentally changed the way people are intellectually stimulated, I also believe that there still are some very important similarities in both ‘digital natives and digital immigrants.’ For instance, within the classroom I work in, which is a community based program at the moderate to severe level for 18-22 year olds, big detailed and colorful books are still a huge part of their learning process. Social stories can be made into interesting reading material that is both students’ specific and stimulating. I like and encourage the idea of using technology in the classroom, especially is it pertains to the special needs student, but I also respect and admire the notion of using our own imagination and available resources to help meet the diverse needs of the student.
References
Prensky, Marc. Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants. On the Horizon. MCB University Press, Vol. 9 No. 5.

In the article entitled “Do They Really Think Differently?”, Marc Prensky discusses the theory that human brains have changed over time due to the new technological inventions incorporated in our everyday lives. He states that “the brain changes and organizes itself differently based on the inputs it receives”, which is known as neuroplasticity (page 2). Although my first thought to the idea of brain adaptations was skeptical, after reading the article, I have come to the conclusion that due to our surrounding environments, our brains have the ability to change and adapt to our surrounding environments, especially with technology. Before, I didn’t agree that our brains were physically different than that of our previous generations. This idea is similar to evolution and the physical change over long periods of time. Now, I believe that are brains don’t necessarily evolve over time, but they have the capabilities to change according to different environments.

Although I am not currently in a classroom, I have seen a difference in the way that I process and use technology compared to that of my parents. Although my parents both use technology in their everyday lives, I tend to solve technology problems and learn new technological advances at a much faster rate than they do. I have seen this especially in everyday tasks that I complete in relation to my parents everyday tasks. My mom, especially, is an excellent list maker (writing down tasks by hand). This is the way that she visualizes her day and what she needs to get done that day. I, on the other hand, have put my iphone and laptop to extensive use by using apps and digital calendars to structure my everyday activities. I set reminders, notifications, and due dates to remind me of what I need to get done so that I don’t have to think about it until my phone notifies me. I link my phone and computer together so that no matter what I am doing (whether on my phone or computer) I will be notified at a specific time to complete a task. This is a much different and faster process of getting things done that that of my parents.

Marc Prensky states in the article that “research by social psychologists shows that people who grow up in different cultures do not just think about different things, they actually think differently” (p. 3). I agree with Prensky because I have seen how I use technology in today’s world compared to how my parents use it. My parents grew up in a world where paper and pens were their main source to write down things. Today, the keyboard and iphone allow me to write down things. Also, my parents spent most of their education reading tangible books and underlining important points. Today, most of my education is reading articles online or reading reviews and books online (or on the iphone) and copying and pasting important points into a word document or digitally highlighting the important points.

Overall, my perspective has changed after reading Prensky’s article. I agree with Prensky and his idea that “our children today are being socialized in a way that is vastly different from their parents” (1) because I see it with my self and my parents. The problem today that we face is the transition between “old-school teaching” and teaching in the 21st century. How do we support this change as teachers? Personally, this is the main reason why I decided to get a masters in Digital Teaching. By learning how to teach in the 21st century, I will be prepared to integrate new technological advances into the classroom in order to relate to the next generation.

Often you hear people say "Back when I was young …." but when it comes to the digital world this comment applies to myself even though I myself was a high school just 5 years ago. Though I am able to function with most recent trends of technology I was not born into a world that was soaked with technology left and right. Now days students are so immersed in technology 24/7 from a very young age that any other style of learning is "old fashioned" for them and not tailored to their best way of absorbing the information. Although I do not believe Prensky is right when he says that students are fundamentally different than they were ten years ago I do agree with him when he states "Today's students are no longer the people our educational system was designed to teach." Although I do not believe that students are fundamentally different I do believe that they have adapted with the times and this calls for a change in teaching styles. Students need information presented to them differently just like 10 years ago I needed information presented different to me compared to fifty years ago. These digital natives need education catered to their technological ways because the digital technologies present now days are so different than they were just a year or two ago.


It is amazing to me the differences that have arose between the generation of students when I was in high school and the current generation of digital natives. Before being presented with this topic I thought that the current high school students had a large amount of technology that was not available to my generation of students but I figured that the difference between the two was not all that much. But after reading Marc Prensky's "Digital Natives & Digital Immigrants" I realized that there was so much more too it. Mr. Prensky put my feelings to words when he wrote this " Digital immigrant teachers assume that learners are the same as they have always been." Well I obviously have made that mistake about the digital natives that are in todays classrooms. They technology may be similar to when I was in school but the style of teaching approach must be different.


In todays classrooms the approach of teaching for our students must be different than it was 5 years ago, not necessarily because of the difference but because of the difference in the technology adaptation that these students have been born with. As Prensky explains it best " the single biggest problem facing education today is that our digital immigrant instructors, who speak an outdated language are struggling to teach a population that speaks an entirely new language." We truly have to learn how to adapt to our students new languages and find ways to interoperate the "old school" language of education and information into a language that the digital native can understand and build upon. Students may have similar problems that they have to deal with on a daily basis, which is the view I had before coming into this class, but these problems can be blown up and extended due to the prominent presence of the internet and popular social networking sites like Facebook & Twitter. Students still have to do chores and take out the trash, well in most families like mine, but problems that are social such as bullying and popularity can be spread over the internet with little to no supervision or repercussions for what they say.

Using the term, fundamentally different, when comparing young people today, “Digital Natives,” to young people ten or twenty years ago, “Digital Immigrants,” would suggest that young people today are primarily or centrally different then they were ten or twenty years ago. Are young people today centrally different? I would argue that there are differences between young people twenty years ago and young people today, but the differences are not central. For example, my students have access to the Internet for research that students twenty years ago, myself included, did not have, but in spite of the differences there are also many similarities, such as, fitting in, hormones, dealing with their home lives, and other social aspects concerning school and adolescence. Therefore, I do not agree with Marc Prensky’s hypothesis that all digital natives fit into the same educational paradigm just because they are students of a digital age. Further I think that as an educator it is not the “outdated language” between digital immigrants and digital natives that is causing the central problem in the classroom today, but rather it is an example of the age old conundrum of how to best reach our students and how to cross the generational divide in the classroom (Prensky, 2001).
Overgeneralizing students, grouping all students together as Digital Natives, does not take into account learning style differences and the differences between students’ access to the Internet and computers. Although Prensky’s hypothesis that Digital Natives’ brains or thinking patterns are rewired and these students, therefore, become bored quickly, his hypothesis does not explain the correlation between the boredom students twenty years ago faced and today face when inside the classroom. Taking learning style differences into account and computer access into account is important even if today’s students are termed Digital Natives.
Whether students are or aren’t different today there is little doubt that evolving educational technologies have influenced today’s students in many ways. But how much the student is influenced by technology depends on his or her access to digital devices and the Internet. Prensky’s argument assumes that all students have access to the Internet and to video games and are changed due to their existence. When in fact, there are students who do not have the same access to digital technologies as their peers, due in part to socio-economic status. Two questions I have are: How is it possible to equitably challenge students who come from different digital backgrounds in the classroom? And, as a teacher how can I adjust my lesson plans to include all students regardless of their digital nativeness?
Not all students fit into the Digital Native- Digital Immigrant model. For example, the article would classify me as a Digital Immigrant. I graduated from high school twenty years ago, and I learned to type using a typewriter. Nevertheless, I do not fit into Prensky’s model of a Digital Immigrant. I can and do study while listening to music; I prefer email to stationary; I integrate technology into my lesson plans; and, I believe learning should be fun (Prensky, 2001).
Although I do not agree with everything presented in Pensky’s article, “Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants,” the article is important because it brings up important issues concerning technology in the classroom that need to be discussed. Comparing and contrasting the differences between students today and students twenty years ago creates a valuable dialogue. As teachers we do need to constantly reconsider and evaluate our teaching methods and the content we present in the classroom; this provides a valuable service to our students today (Prensky, 2001). Moreover, I agree with Prensky that our methodologies and content in the classroom should stay current to help us cross the generational divide, whether it is a digital divide or not.