As I finish most of the reading for Module One and consider ideas about my own position in the digital cosmos, I am caught up in thinking further about the debate over Prensky’s concepts. I had not really given them much critical thought until starting MEKNDI; previously assuming that there was considerable merit to the terms in light of each generation’s exposure to technology.

Following further examination, my main concern about Prensky’s digital natives/immigrants concept is that it creates assumptions about generations of people based on their age. The digital literacy of young people in schools today is so vastly varied and it must not be assumed that they are all equally skilled/knowledgeable. Such assumptions can also lead us to ideas about digital literacy that are at odds with Paul Gilster’s original definition of the term. Just because many young people are skilled users of their devices does not mean they are able to make the connections and interrelate using technology to demonstrate understanding. I think this alignment with understanding as the key indicator for successful use of technology relates to Prensky’s reconsidered “digital wisdom” concept referred to by DaCosta, Kinsell and Nasah .

The flipside of my concern is that for many of my colleagues in the “immigrant” generations, the  labeling provides them with a debilitating reason to give up. How often do we hear or even say something to the effect of “how can I possibly keep  up” with young people who are using technology all of the time. At this point of overwhelming realisation of their own limitations, many time-pressured teachers may give up. It can seem very consuming to change practice and invest in new skills, but essentially I do not see that there is a choice. If we want to be teachers of the next generation then we must change what we do, see ourselves as life-long learners and invest in processes that will enable us to get on with valuable teaching and learning for the current generation.

DaCosta et. al refer to Prensky’s idea that digital immigrants  “see learning as a task, which involves effort and work”. However, I would argue that whilst younger generations may relate more to learning through play, that these characteristics are important for all learners and also that game play is most certainly a platform that requires effort and work. However,  game play also involves failure and reattempt and aligning these ideas in an educational context is what I think is truly new. One of my favourite theorists, Carol Dweck, writes about the concept of a growth mindset and the value of failure. This value, which in assessment terms can be known as formative rather than summative, is something that I think has great merit as a feature of contemporary education. Despite the huge amount of extra marking, I am currently working through the resubmits of a class of design submissions. The vast improvements since the first submission tell me that this extra work is of great value as my students have demonstrated real learning. Not just failure and a D grade and a final report to indicate where they went wrong.

Personally I have very mixed feelings about my capacity as a teacher and learner in our digital world, and my summation of where I am at changes with the experiences of the day. In a new school, suddenly immersed in an unfamiliar mac world, I have had to learn an immense amount to stay afloat over the last six weeks in my workplace. In this time I have frequently felt like a digital immigrant! I am hoping that INF530 will progress my skills, knowledge and consequently my confidence. As reflected in the research conducted by Downes and Bishop, I am hoping that this investment to develop my own skills, knowledge and awareness will ultimately make me a better teacher and leader.

 

References

Bawden, D. (2008). CHAPTER ONE: Origins and concepts of digital literacy. In Digital Literacies: Concepts, Policies & Practices (pp. 17–32). Peter Lang Publishing, Inc. Retrieved from http://ezproxy.csu.edu.au/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=lih&AN=39774960&site=ehost-live

DaCosta, B., Kinsell, C., & Nasah, A. (2013). Millennials are digital natives?: An investigation into digital propensity and age. In I. Association (Ed.), Digital literacy: concepts, methodologies, tools, and applications (pp. 103-119). Hershey, PA: . doi:10.4018/978-1-4666-1852-7.ch006

Downes, J. M., & Bishop, P. (2012). Educators engage digital natives and learn from their experiences with technology. Middle School Journal, 43(5), 6–15.

Dweck, C. (2006). Mindset: How you can fulfil your potential. Constable and Robertson. London

Ito M, Cultural Anthropologist Mimi Ito on Connected Learning, Children, and Digital Media. Retrieved from: http://youtu.be/xuV7zcXigAI