Monday, October 20, 2014

Entry 15 IDT1415 - 9 Facts about Digital Natives

How can you structure your lesson plans to appeal to this kind of student?   

I believe the answer to this question lies in another question: How well informed are you about your learners and the technology they use? Once an answer becomes available then a potential action plan can be drawn. First of all, if they are bored by traditional lectures understanding that this simply means for them to sit down passively listening to the 'lecturer' then a more proactive approach is needed e.g. guided discovery for instance.  Confucius said something along these lines: 'I hear and I forget, I see and I remember, I do and I understand'. A principle as simple as this one is a powerful one as all it implies is turning around our teaching so that learners are 'doing more' and 'listening' less. Now, if 90% of children play video games, then we need to find that gaming element or elements which absorb learners so much and try and reproduce it in class e.g. is it competition? Repetition? Instant feedback on performance? Individual or group interaction? What? Next, comes multitasking and how it is reportedly to decrease brain efficiency by 50%. If this is so, how is it possible for my nephew to study while listening to music through his earphones, have his Facebook page open and constantly text via Wassup? One may ask whether his grades reflect his effort or not but generally speaking he is a successful student. Or is it that as Prensky (2009) says 'digital natives are wired differently' and is thus multitasking part and parcel of the status and yet not 'a magic bullet' (Dudeney et al. 2013:26)?

The next issue to address is that of female vs male use of the internet with social networking  for the former and gaming for the latter. Again, I would argue that an informed decision would be that of trying to find a relevant link between such uses and classroom activity to open a door to these tools to enter the classroom rather than keeping the students out of the classroom. And along of informed decisions learners also need help, native or not, to understand or better realise the potential of the technology they already use.  For instance, it is possible to often see natives using technology but more often than not it is for social networking or playing rather than for learning in a stricter sense of the word. I would argue again that they need more able users or better informed users/teachers to show them that Facebook is not just for social networking but that it can also be used as a learning tool that provides the 'grounds' where students can come together as a class 'privately' and share resources, links, videos, materials and views.

What does this information tell us about what is and what is not working in the classroom?
 I would say that what is working in the classroom is the technology students bring along (BYOD) and what is not working is that they do not bring it with a BYOD approach in mind! What works in today's classrooms in those environments where the technology is available is that only those teachers and learners who have gone past the primary use of technological tools e.g. Facebook for connecting socially with others, are those individuals who are moving on up to the next level: being digitally wise while putting those tools to a 'greater' use. What does not work in today's classrooms is not thinking of our learners and how to engage them more, how to meet them half way, how to initiate a dialogue which says I am here for you not against you! 


Prensky, M. 2009. H. Sapiens Digital: From Digital Immigrants and Digital Natives to Digital Wisdom. Innovate. Online at [accessed: October 13, 2014]

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