I am starting to wonder how many of my kids are really "digital natives." It seems to me that an awful lot of them really don't know what's on the Internet (besides myspace) and they don't really know how to transfer skills in one program or website to another. My kids were totally confused by blogger. Is this normal? I sort of overestimated their ability to figure out how to use a site because I thought they'd spent their lives on the computer so.... I'm just curious. Is this something the rest of you see often? Kids who fit into that "digital native" category, but really aren't digitally native? I'm almost wondering if it's something adults are pushing onto the kids because we can see what's out there to use. Thoughts?

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Great question! To me, "digital native" describes a set of experiences that is common among many children, but it's not a badge they get just by having been born in the 1990's. Digital natives, because of their experiences (early, consistent exposure to highly engaging, personal technology), have certain expectations and skill sets, but as you point out it can't be assumed they have an innate ability to master every technological tool or know every website. It's like the Internet is a city they grew up in, but they only hang out at a few places and are only minimally aware of other neighborhoods.

Other children who have not had consistent exposure to the same types of technology are not "digital natives" in my view.
Yes! Absolutely. They know myspace and that is it. They can't find anything and feel that the first google result is the right one. Very little critical thinking, little analysis. I'd love to hear some suggestions on how to change this attitude.
If you search for "fake websites" or "evaluating websites" you'll find lot's of resources that you can use to introduce the idea that there is a lot of misinformation on the internet. Here's one resource that provides tools for determining if a website is from a valid source. http://www.lib.berkeley.edu/TeachingLib/Guides/Internet/Evaluate.html

Here's another one: http://www.iccb.state.il.us/student/pdf/resource/web_lit.pdf written by Judy Salpeter that apparently originally appeared in Technology and Learning Magazine.

It's not only kids, I just read about a couple of tourists who tried to find a bunch of fake tourist attractions because they had visited a site http://city-mankato.us/ that was created back in 1996 by a professor trying to teach students about the same topic. In a story dated August 22, 2007 the Mankato Freepress tells the story of the unfortunate pair. http://www.mankato-freepress.com/local/local_story_234002321.html
Great discussion topic, Amy.

I think they are digital natives--in the sense that my kids know how to handle electronics in a natural way that means they will never be accused of "not knowing how to program the VCR." And I think you are also right--that their knowledge tends to be surface-level, and not very broad. I learned this while teaching a Web 2.0 class to my kids and their friends. They can figure out how to send a photo from their cell phone to someone else, but that doesn't mean they know the first thing about how it is done.

And so, for me, their "nativity" manifests itself in approaching technology with more of a willingness to integrate these tools into their lives than their parents or grandparents have. But they 1) need to learn how to drill deeper and learn more, and 2) need to help in understanding that you can have an abundance of information and options, but getting at the truth and communicating with clarity are still hard work.
As a digital native myself, I think digital native is more of a reference to the way our brains work than an ability to use a specific tool e.g. we think of using technology tools organically to fill needs we have.

It's the same as native speakers of a foreign language. I can speak Spanish but I do have to think first in English and then translate into Spanish. A digital native thinks first in technology without that translation. That said, there are times when the Spanish just flows out of me (not often enough but it does happen) and I'm sure that there are times when you think of using technology automatically even if you didn't grow up with it.
The term may have more to do with attention span.... :-)

But let's go back to learning modalities. If I'm a kinetic/audio learner, the web may be a great place to expand relationships and explore music, but blogs and wikis not such a great thing.

I know a lot of adults (including teachers) who still see email as an incoming service, with the added function of occasionally forwarding something funny, gross, or heart wrenching. For these people, just returning a "thanks" or "message received" seems beyond their consideration. )Often, my digital native nephews seem to fall in this category as well).

Also, digital native isn't entirely a good thing. I can use the web as a research tool because I have explored huge sections of the 4 million volume U.Ill. library, with its Dewey and L.O.C. categorization. Exploring and learning categoires via the web isn't always so easy.
Thanks, Mathew
I completly agree with your opinions and I also agree with Steve about their superficiality, they can have a poor vocabulary on this language but they are native speakers!no accent when they speak!
Un abrazo desde Buenos Aires!
The digital native/digital immigrant labels have been used for a couple of years now and I think they do as much harm as good. Thinking of kids as digital natives is just used an excuse to not use technology in the classroom. And being a "digital immigrant" was an easy excuse for not a teacher not to learn technology. I think those days are over!

Kids need adults to guide them to use these tools wisely, and for appropriate academic purposes. A teacher can take them further and faster. Kids are less afraid of technology, and don't usually worry about breaking things, but this doesn't translate to intellectual curiousity. They are just used to having technology around, but also more than willing to just ignore it when it isn't immediately obvious what to do with it.

We adults tend to want to find a use for anything and everything, or worry that we aren't doing something "right." I don't think that has anything to do with technology, and is certainly not new to this generation.
As usual, Sylvia weighs in with some real wisdom. :)
Spot on Sylvia!
My students claim to be digital natives, but when you start asking them about how much they use rss feeds, social bookmarking, collaboration tools and even downloading podcasts you begin to realise how limited their use of the internet really is.
I totally agree that teachers have a new and significant role to play in guiding students in how to use these tools more effectively to find better quality information on the web.
We also need to teach them about how to present themselves and their ideas better. I've started putting up edublog posts on various issues and invited students to share their ideas as moderated comments. If you'd like to see an example go to http://notreblog.edublogs.org/category/film-reviews/
Hi Amy. I am also amazed at times when I introduce new concepts to my students, such as blogs and wikis, only to have blank stares when I explain this new technology. Like you, I thought they knew this stuff already. I thought they ran home and did it all the time. We're wrong, though. They do run home and visit MySpace. They do program their iPods, play with their game consoles and generally engage a lot with technology. But their use of technology is mostly entertainment based. Unless we're talking Runescape or ringtones, the technology we teach our students about in schools may very well be new to them. I accept this now and also realize that I am in a role to teach them how to engage in collaborative, online technologies in productive, academic ways. These digital natives always will need quality teachers to guide them along their journey. We haven't become obsolete yet!
A few more thoughts as I'm enjoying reading this thread...

1. The term is digital native and not RSS native. Blogs and RSS are newer technologies and so teachers may be as native with these particular tools as their students.

2. Students use technology when it is functional for them. Knowing the power of Myspace (which includes blogging almost invisibly in its infrastructure), why would a student want to open up a blogger account on their own? There's no need for it.

3. So like in every content area, the teacher needs to build the neurological pathway between what a student already knows (myspace in this case) and what you're teaching (Blogger). "This platform is similar to Myspace in what it does but..." "This feature of blogger is similar to Myspace's feature of..."

4. Also, I don't know where you teach but teachers sometimes expect their students to be digital natives when it comes to the internet but forget to the consider that "digital natives" if you like the term are disproportionately white and middle class. My second grade students at my Title I school who do not have computers or the internet at home will not grow up to be digital natives (when it comes to the internet. So there is a question of equity of access which must be considered. Students without home access who have a limited time to access a computer at a library go on the computer, go to Myspace, do what they have to do and get off. They don't go exploring around the internet beyond what they need to do because they don't have the same kind of access that we do when we can surf in our pajamas. ( Toward Digital Equity by Gwen Solomon is my favorite book on the subject)



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