Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Entry 16 IDT1415 Bennett et al. and Bayne and Ross' Critique of Prensky's Digital Personas

Although I clearly agree, as can be seen in my previous post, with the dissent from the idea of a simplistic binary: digital immigrant - digital native as it is called by Bayne and Ross (2011), I also believe that their critique is slightly over focused in the social implications of Prensky's metaphor. I fail to understand why professional development as prescribed by a technological advancement agenda has a harmful effect on teachers. Is not professional development an integral part of a teacher's DNA? Are we supposed then to teach all our lives without keeping abreast of advancement around us? Why is such professional growth then seen under such negative light? Professionals in the health sector continuously upgrade themselves as new viruses and medicines are discovered, studied and better understood for the good of the community. Why then expecting teachers to go along with technological advancement which can be put to the service of our students is to be avoided? I personally believe that more than a requirement set by the environment it is our obligation as teachers, as educators to be knowledgeable and prepared to address the needs of an ever changing world and students. I disagree with McWilliam's (2002 in Bayne and Ross 2011) deficit model and the idea that there is 'unlearning' to required in order to develop technological skills. My own past experience as a lecturer at university level tell me, on the contrary, that the unlearning needed is more related to how 'lecturing' often does not fully take into account students and therefore the deficit model applies not so much as to the lack of technological wisdom, but to the lack of a better understanding of how to reach out to those students who seem to continue to evolve while teachers remain immutable in front of them. I was once told by a colleague at the beginning of my teaching career almost 20 years ago, that all the preparation they required was to look at the page of the course book as opposed to all my cutting up paper, finding flashcards, asking colleagues to record role plays with me on tapes I bought out of my own pocket and the like. A great friend but still a colleague who had failed to move on with the times! 

I can fully identify with Clegg's (2003 in Bayne and Ross 2011): 'to embrace new media enthusiastically or to stand aside and watch its inevitable unfolding' as the choice educators have today. Also, it is safer to simply adopt a stance which is nuance-free and does not require 'binary oppositions' with negative connotations such as Fenwick's (2000 in op.cit.) educational colonising process and how digital immigrants are then put in a position of 'asylum seekers' with the related implications. Why cannot we simply be open minded, try and understand what and how these technological advancement can enhance our own professional lives rather than see it all as a potential threat? Or is it that for some such change simply translate into having to actually get out of their comfort zones and do some work?

Also, Bennett et al.'s (2008) suggested 'moral panic' seems to be a much more appealing stance for educators and more adequate term supported by the lack of empirical evidence available to support a case for a real state of affairs. Kvavik, Caruso and Morgan's study (2004 in Bennett et al. 2008) report a mere 21% of students creating their own content for the Web and a smaller percentage failing to match the expected skills of the so called 'natives'. Two more Australian studied also support the same trends while also showing a relation between differences amongst technology use based on 'socio-economic status, cultural/ethnic background, gender and discipline specialisation'. It is also reported how large-scale surveys have shown that although there is a lot of 'activity' between school-aged children this regards homework tasks and social communication which are not indicators of Prensky's 'Digital Wisdom' (2009), but rather a use more in line with Kvavik et al.'s (op.cit) wanting 'natives' skill level leading to believe that Howe and Strauss' (2000) 'Millenials' are more a questionable ideal than a wide spread reality.


Bayne, S. and Ross, J. 2011. 12. 'Digital Native' and 'Digital Immigrant' Discourses. A Critique. [Online], In: R. Land and S. Bayne (Eds.), Digital Difference: Perspectives on Online Learning. Sense Publishers. 159-169, Online at http://moodle.nottingham.ac.uk/mod/resource/view.php?id=1017632 [accessed: October 13, 2014].

Bennett, S., Maton, K., and Kervin, L. 2008, The 'digital natives' debate: A critical review of evidence. British Journal of Educational Technology. Vol 39 No. 775-786.

Prensky, M. 2009. H. Sapiens Digital: From Digital Immigrants and Digital Natives to Digital Wisdom. Innovate. Online at http://moodle.nottingham.ac.uk/mod/resource/view.php?id=1017631 [accessed: October 13, 2014]

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