What is a digital native?

REPOSTED FROM MY THOUGHTS (hshawjr@blogspot.com/haroldshawjr.com) 10/26/10

I have a real question that I just can’t wrap my brain around.What is a digital native?

Is it:
a. someone who knows how to download songs to an Ipod or MP3 player?
b. someone who can use a gaming station such as Wii, Playstation, or whatever is the “hot” console?
c. someone who has accessed: Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, Gmail, chats, eMail, etc.
d. someone who was born after 1990 (to use a generic year, it could be 1985).
e. someone who uses: blogs, RSS feeds, wikis, podcasts, video streaming, Skype etc.

The correct answer based upon my learning in the last three months would be “d”. Is that the only requirement to be considered as a digital native, being born on or after a certain year? The answer is — as far as I have read, not based on actual experience.

My personal experience has been (with an admittedly less than academically motivated population and a small sample size), is that many at-risk youth, special education and many others come in being able to do or have done some of answers: a., b., c., and they fit d., but have never used or been exposed many or all in answer e. So does this make them digital natives that just haven’t been exposed to all of their environment or are they not digital natives?

I don’t believe that this generation as a whole, has all that many individuals that are that much more technologically savvy than some earlier generations. So how did they get the term “digital native”? Or was it given out of the hope of becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy?

Personally, I believe that this generation as discussed in Will Richardson’s latest blog  http://weblogg-ed.com/2008/universal-learning-care/ and what others have called — the “lost generation” is a more appropriate name for this generation than “digital native” generation. But this term is so negative and I dislike calling a student “lost”. It just isn’t career enhancing for a teacher.

I believe that this generic term (digital natives) would be better applied to those born a bit later (maybe those who were born after 2005), they will be (I hope ) immersed in technology in and out of school on a much broader scale than the present generation.

So if we don’t call this generation “digital natives”, what should we call them? I really hate the term “lost generation” it is so negative, even if it does seem to fit in view of what they are not being allowed to learn or even how as a result of NCLB’s testing mandates. Are they the “almost digital natives”, semi-digital natives, or the “test taking” generation (in the U.S.), but many of them are not digital natives.

Finally I have attached the Wikipedia definition of Digital Native:

Digital native

“From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

digital native is a person who has grown up with digital technology such as computers, the Internet, mobile phones and MP3. A digital immigrant is an individual who grew up without digital technology and adopted it later. A digital native might refer to their new “camera”; a digital immigrant might refer to their new “digital camera”.

Marc Prensky claims to have coined the term digital native, as it pertains to a new breed of student entering educational establishments.[1] The term draws an analogy to a country’s natives, for whom the local religion, language, and folkways are natural and indigenous, over against immigrants to a country who must adapt and assimilate to their newly adopted home. Prensky refers toaccents employed by digital immigrants, such as printing documents rather than commenting on screen or printing out emails to save in hard copy form. Digital immigrants are said to have a “thick accent” when operating in the digital world in distinctly pre-digital ways, when, for instance, he might “dial” someone on the telephone to ask if his e-mail was received.

A Digital Native research project is being run jointly by the Berkman Centre for Internet & Society at Harvard Law School and the Research Center for Information Law at the University of St. Gallen in Switzerland.

Gartner presented on the term at their recent IT Expo (Emerging Trends) Symposium in Barcelona.

Not everyone agrees with the language and underlying assumptions of the digital native, particularly as it pertains to the concept of their differentiation. There are many reasonable arguments against this differentiation.

It suggests a fluidity with technology that not all children and young adults have, and a corresponding awkwardness with technology that not all older adults have. It entirely ignores the fact that the digital universe was conceived of and created by digital immigrants. Finally, in its application, the concept of the digital native preferences technological users as having a special status as it relates to technology because they use it, which glosses over the significant differences between technology users and technology creators.”

The term “digital native” doesn’t seem to me to be very accurate depiction of this entire generation or is it supposed to only be a generalization? I guess that is what I have to wrap my head around.

So what do you think?????? Am I way out in left field (something not unusual for me), or did I reach the “who am I” level “again”?

Technorati Tags: digital natives,richardson,skype,blog,myspace,facebook,email,digital native,lost generation,technology,teaching,test taking,NCLB,rss feeds,wikis,podcast,video streaming,wikipedia

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