From an “Old” Digital Native

Saw an interesting blog post today from Michele Martin, on “Venturing Outside of My Web 2.0 Bubble.” It caught my eye because she discussed the fact that she (and I) live in an early adopter world…and therefore forget that most of the world lives outside Web 2.0. She points out that while many technologists use Firefox for its Web 2.0 tools, 75% of the world uses the older Internet Explorer…and in fact many of them use version 6, not the latest version 7. IE6 is “good enough.” Why try these new web tools if you find what you need using Google or Yahoo search and have no need for Google Readers with RSS Feeds?

I was struck with the parallels between what she described and my work as both a graduate teacher in the School of Education and as a faculty developer. I often try to stretch my students or fellow faculty to try out Web 2.0 tools when they feel that they are doing a perfectly adequate job teaching in a non-wired world. Why should I push?

Maybe the answer lies in my growing belief that being a digital native has nothing to do with age, but rather with comfort and familiarity with computers and the web. If I am right, then I – at age 58 – am a digital native, whereas many in their twenties and thirties are digital immigrants. Prensky pushed the age issue, but I have grown to disagree with him. Being a digital native is an attitude…and any of us can catch it!

Our children enter school excited about learning and bursting with creativity. For too many, this may be rubbed out as they learn conformity and doing it the “old way.” I am not suggesting that the web is the best way, but it does provide creative avenues that teachers and children can explore together, and in so doing, keep alive that spark of excitement we all have felt when truly learning. If one can relate to the tools and the techniques our children already are using “for fun,” then maybe we can help steer the next cure for cancer or cure for our planet’s global warming crisis. Giving our kids the tools to succeed and continue learning throughout life is definitely a worthy goal!

Be interested in your thoughts…..

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *