Digital native – digital immigrant. They are two hot “buzz-words” in the world of Ed Tech right now. And two of the more misunderstood words, I think. The concept is, if you were born near to or after the invention of certain technologies, you will be more comfortable with them. If you were born before that, you had to “immigrate” into the digital world, and no matter how much you learn, you will always be some what of a foreigner to the natives.
Well, that’s a bit of a simplification of the concepts, but that’s how the average person tends to understand them currently. Well, the average EdTech geek, that is. The problem is, I don’t feel they quite exactly describe reality. The thought that your digital “level” is determined solely by your age ignores two other important digitals: the digital divide and digital ignorance.
Most children in this world don’t have access to a computer. So they can’t be considered natives. Many that do have computers simply just don’t learn how to use them properly (as Katrina looked at in an earlier post). Many so-called “digital immigrants” take tests to see where they land on the scale, and test as a native, even thought they are told they have to be immigrants because of their age. (Okay, this last one describes me and maybe I am a little bitter).
I propose that digital labels should follow your actual level of knowledge and training. Maybe we should debate this one in the comments. But here are some ideas:
- Digital muggles
- Digital newbies
- Digital, um, middle-of-the-road-people (who know something but just aren’t gurus yet – can’t think of a term for this one)
- Digital gurus
Matt is currently an Instructional Designer II at Orbis Education and a Part-Time Instructor at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. Previously he worked as a Learning Innovation Researcher with the UT Arlington LINK Research Lab. His work focuses on learning theory, Heutagogy, and learner agency. Matt holds a Ph.D. in Learning Technologies from the University of North Texas, a Master of Education in Educational Technology from UT Brownsville, and a Bachelors of Science in Education from Baylor University. His research interests include instructional design, learning pathways, sociocultural theory, heutagogy, virtual reality, and open networked learning. He has a background in instructional design and teaching at both the secondary and university levels and has been an active blogger and conference presenter. He also enjoys networking and collaborative efforts involving faculty, students, administration, and anyone involved in the education process.