Are today's students really Digital Natives as Marc Prensky
defines them or are they just Digitally Naive? Yes it is true that 'Students are not just using technology differently today, but are approaching their life and daily activities differently because of technology
' (Prensky, 2006:40) however, is this change productive or counter productive?
Prensky (2006) discusses the key areas of change that Digital Natives have embraced shedding a positive light on each area. Although there are many benefits to this technological change, there are many questions that could be raised in relation to change.
Digital Natives Communicate Differently
Digital Natives use an array of technologies that enable synchronous and asynchronous communication using their mobiles to text or Internet technology to instant message an array of people at one time. Instant communication is at the forefront of their communication where they want quick, short responses rather than a lengthily wait for a response.
There are questions to be posed regarding this style of communication:
Can our Digital Natives focus on one thread of a conversation or are they hyperlinking between many?
Do they have the patience to wait for a response rather than demand instant communication?
Can they create well constructed correspondences that are well thought out, have depth and clearly communicate a view or opinion or do they quickly create and send?
Do they think before they communicate on their social media sites and what the implications of their words or images will have on a wider audience?
Digital Natives Share Differently
Today's technology opens the doors of closed in communities to share with the wider world whether others want to be informed or not. Sharing is no longer confined to the physical aspect and location base restriction of collaboration but is extended through an array of technologies. I am a great believer in sharing knowledge, ideas and skill with others but there are questions to be asked.
To share or not share that is the questions - do our Digital Natives share too much information or not?
Do our Digital Natives understand the repercussions of sharing various aspects of their life to an open audience?
Will out Digital Natives need to change their identities in the future to flee their online past that will haunt them?
Digital Natives Buy and Sell Differently
The high street stores are no longer the only means of purchasing products where they can adjust their price according to their location. The Internet enables consumers the ability to shop around from the comfort of their homes to compare prices and read reviews created by others. Consumers no longer need to rely on only the sale's representatives advertising pitch but those of the consumer. The ability to sell products no longer requires the restrictions of building a business or standing in the cold on a Sunday at a local car boot sale. The internet enables all to place products online to sell to a wider audience. Again a few questions can be asked?
Do our Digital Natives understand the true value of money or do they just use a card number to purchase without any true thought for how much they are spending?
What will make a product stand out from the crowd when all are selling online?
Digital Natives Exchange Differently
Exchanging images, music and videos are at the heart of sharing at no cost to the recipient. This raises the question:
Do our Digital Natives understand copyright or are they ignorant to ownership and permissions?
Digital Natives Create Differently
This is one area that our Digital Natives excel in where they create, co-create and innovate using technology. Creating movies, websites, Apps, games etc are at the heart of many Digital Natives where they do not just want to consume information but create it. There are excellent examples of Digital Natives using their creative skills in innovative ways however, there are a few that abuse the system and create content that is inappropriate. Youtube is one area where Digital Natives like to create and share with a wider audience. This leads to the question:
Do Digital Natives understand the implications of their creations on a wider audience?
Digital Natives Coordinate Differently
Working collaboratively online is one of the key attributes of today's technology and our Digital Natives embrace this aspect. Working together anytime, anyplace, anywhere is now part of society rather than having to restrictions of location collaboration. Working together to deepen knowledge or brainstorm ideas can be undertaken much simpler through connected technologies. There are many excellent forms of collaboration taking place globally however the question that could be asked:
Does the voice of the crowd become a mob where there are no key players in some groups to facilitate and filter the lone expert voice from the crowd?
The above are just a few questions posed related to today's Digital Natives. These questions are not all my views but ones that could be discussed by the global audience. What are your views on Digital Natives from experience, research or your personal opinions? Share these views and start a discussion with tomorrow's teachers who will be reflecting on Prensky's notion of Digital Natives over the next few days.