Backing Down and Fighting Back

This morning I received my first confrontational blog comment to my previous post Accepting Your Not a Digital Whizz. In this post I talked about my experience with West Calder Primary and their use of Lego Robots at this year’s eAssessment Scotland Conference in Dundee. Most confrontation and criticism I can handle, but this morning’s comment used the word racist to describe my analysis and thoughts on Marc Prensky’s Digital Native’s theory (I must add that I have no idea where racism came into it). I panicked, hated the criticism and in a moments fear deleted the entire post. Now I’m mad at myself because as much as I am aware of the controversy surrounding the theory, I do stand by what I had said. Mark Bullen, while criticising Prensky, said Every generation differs from the previous in some way. I don’t think that my post was any different from this. I work for one of the world’s largest IT companies, I don’t want to be labelled incompetent in IT use and that was never the intention of my post. The very basic point is that, whether you call them Digital Natives or not, the post 2000 era are being brought up in a completely different world from the generation before them and it is a contrast never before experienced. This is not a bad thing; the vast differences between those brought up in the digital age and those who came before need to be and should be fully embraced. Einstein said; The problems that exist in the world today cannot be solved by the level of thinking that created them. It’s always a positive that the next generation are different.

Everyone can adapt to technology (I wasn’t brought up in the digital era and I’m still blogging) but only those born into a world of Google, iTunes and eBay have it fully ingrained into their lives; they know no different! However this should not deter educators from embracing technology, and I think that is a message I failed to get across in my previous post. The Digital Native theory increases the fear that those sitting in the classroom know more about technology than the person holding the lesson and while this may be true on some levels there are contradictions to it. Teachers need to embrace technology, not only because that is the life their class leads, but because those born into the digital age need to be taught digital responsibility, sense and how to decipher the good from the bad in terms of resources. The Digital Natives (for want of a better term) pick up an iPod and know how to use it; many of those not classed as part of this era will also be able to do this but many will go to Apple and download the manual. And there is the difference.

I do believe that technology, especially ICT, needs to be incorporated into the classroom, the world is changing at a vast pace and education needs to be part of that change. I know from experience that many educators fear technology, this needs to be addressed. Children need to be more engaged in the classroom and I fully believe that innovative use of ICT can make this happen. But more than that, these so called Digital Natives need to know how revolutionary and important technology is for their future and the future of world economy; most of the post 2000 era have no idea how powerful technology is, and that is where the experience and knowledge of those so called Digital Immigrants comes in.

I am annoyed that this morning’s criticism made me doubt what I had said because whatever way you slice it I am still incredibly impressed by the primary 7s at Mid Calder school and I know that when it comes to the Lego Robots, they really do have the upper hand.