What do you make of the divergent positions of Boyd, Prensky and Wesch? Where do you stand on the “digital native” terminology?
While reading Chapter 7 of “It’s Complicated” by Danah Boyd, I was reflecting on the title.. “Are Today’s Youth Digital Natives?” I felt as if reading this helped me articulate ideas I was trying to come up with for my earlier blog post.
One quote from the article I connected with was: “Many of today’s teens are indeed deeply engaged with social media and are active participants in the networked publics, but this does not mean that they inherently have the knowledge of skills to make the most of their online experiences.” I believe assuming that all students from a younger generation are technology native would be a naïve assumption. While students growing up in a technological age will likely adapt to the terminology, beliefs system and way of life, there are academic and professional skills that aren’t learned through sites frequently visited by students. A fluency in social media and gaming builds certain skills, but even using these outlets to their fullest potential isn’t always the case. Students need to be taught to use technology in a mature context to help growth.
Another quote I thought was important is: “Technology is constantly reworking social and information systems, but teens will not become critical contributors to this ecosystem simply because they were born in an age when these technologies were pervasive.” This closely relates to the last quote from the article, the fact that just being born in a certain age bracket does not mean students will have the knowledge or skills to make the most of their online experiences. Students need to be shown and taught the opportunities that are out there. A student could develop a webpage about a passion of theirs, contribute to a wikipage about a topic that they are particularly knowledgeable of, create amazing artistic pieces online to share with the world, join a fanfiction site or a blog to share original writing, even vlog about a passion. There is so much more to the web than chatting with a friend on Facebook, and being of a certain age doesn’t mean they understand the possibilities or the means of achieving them. Students can express themselves in a seemingly infinite way when it comes to technology, more than just the traditional five paragraph essay. But if all they have ever known is the latter, how can we expect them to use these creative outlets?
The last quote I thought was interesting was: “Most formal educational settings do not prioritize digital competence, in part because of the assumption that teens natively understand anything connected to technology and in part because existing educational assessments do not require this prioritization.” I mostly found this interesting because it is outdated. PARCC. This looming, new, technology driven standardized tests that is sweeping in to replace the NECAP. While discussing PARCC with fellow educators we come across the same issues with our students over and over. We can only do so much in the classroom (hypothetically speaking, unattached from technology) to teach the content and material on the test. The students will need a certain comfort level, as well as skill level, to be able to succeed on a computer based test. PARCC is going to be unlike NECAP, the dreaded test they seem to have been programmed to take. It is no longer which bubble do I circle? It’s dragging, and using computer symbols, more than one answer, or infinite answers. Students need to understand how to solve and express these answers using computers. In districts such as mine, it’s something we need a lot of work with.
Overall, I believe Boyd, Prensky and Wesch have a lot of commonalities in their beliefs, but the biggest difference is the assumption that age alone dictates a digital native or immigrant. While these are interesting terms to use, and can certainly be paralleled for how cultural native and immigrants feels in a society, I think it is much more difficult to assign a label to someone for digital literacy. Many people, young and old, fall on the broad spectrum of being in between.