Digital Natives vs. Digital Immigrants

       In recent discussions of digital natives compared to digital, a controversial issue has been whether or not digital natives (those born into the common use of technology) can be taught or related to in a way in which digital immigrants (those not born into technology, but introduced to it at some point).  On the one hand, some argue that the advances of technology enables great strides made by digital natives.  From this perspective, they’re viewed as being able to create, share, assess, compile projects and information quickly and concisely via technology.  On the other hand, however, others argue that short attention spans and inability or unwillingness to sit and read a book or write by hand are negatively impacting learning.  According to this view, ” traditional” ways of demonstrating communication or learning,  such as writing and reading without the use of technology, are still very important and need to not be overlooked. Students need to be able to take a break from technology and interact using non-technology methods.  In sum then, the issues are whether teaching/assignments should adapt to the use of relying much more  on technology, or students should still be able to write a page by hand or sit and read a full paper book for information.

          My own view is that there is still value in being able to create writings and such by hand.  Though I concede that typing may be faster and more convenient, I still maintain that there is a lot of value in doing things “the hard way.”.  For example, writing a short paper for class shouldn’t require or expect the use of technology.    Although some might object that there is time wasted in writing by hand in lieu of just typing, I would reply that it is important for fine motor skills and learning to be patient and tenacious to see results.  The issue is important because in our world of instant gratification, it’s easy for kids to want things done quickly, to not have to work as hard for something “simple”. I think there is emotional value in learning to tough it out just because. Some things in life aren’t easy and it’s okay for something to take a little more time and effort. What better way to combat laziness or becoming complacent than for it to be required to put in effort that isn’t technologically assisted? As a side note, there’s also the simple environmental aspect of being “unplugged” from power-sucking resources.

For additional consideration, here are the ISTE standards.

 

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