Digital Natives vs. Digital Immigrants

Posted: 12/08/2010 in Week 2

Hi all,

This is my second post for AEG5018. In week 2 we described the differences between Asyncronous and Syncronous communications. In this post I will be explaining each element, posting some pictures of different Asyncronous and Syncronous communications and commenting on the articles that we are reading at the moment.

Syncronous Communication

In the lecture Syncronous communication was described as;
• Enabling real-time communication and collaboration in a “same time-different place” mode.
• Interaction with an instructor via the Internet/Web in real time
• Geographically dispersed students accessing the same Web site at the same time as an instructor
• Instructor “broadcasting” video/audio out to the students

So basically this means that in today’s society we are able to have real time conversations on the internet with anyone in the world (barring time difference).

I can think of two instances of this type of technology off the top of my head. Skype and MSN Messenger.

Skype and MSN Messenger are two types of Syncronous technologies, however not all Syncronous technologies need to be ‘social’. Many educational institutions use Syncronous technologies to deliver web based lectures and are used to communicate to other institutions. Once instance of this that I know of is PD Online.

PD Online is a system that is used in Education to deliver Personal Development sessions to teachers. Teachers log on (at the appropriate times, can chat to one another and listen to a webinar (Like a seminar except on the web), and can be speaking to people right throughout the world.

Synchronous, or real-time, communication
is emerging as a popular technology in
online education, and the merging of Web
and audio/video delivery formats with
broadband access, effectively virtualising
education on a global scale. – Lecture two (3/08/10)

The different Syncronous tools on the Internet are: (I have provided a link where I have found the technology)

Audio conferencing for Discussions and dialogue
Web conferencing for Sharing presentations and information
Video conferencing for In-depth discussions with higher-touch interactions (http://www.skype.com)
Chat for Information sharing of low-complexity issues
Instant messaging for Ad hoc quick communications (webmessenger.eu/)
White boarding for Co-development of ideas (http://www.wallwisher.com/)
Application sharing for Co-development of documents (www.limewire.com/)

Asynchronous Communication

Asynchronous communication is
communication taking place at different
times
• Text-based discussion on a website, to
extend or replace in-class discussion
• Allows students to complete their tasks on
their own time and schedule, without live
interaction with the instructor – Lecture 2

Asynchronous communication is not real time, these are still web 2.0 based however with this type of communication it is carried out throughout a certain time. Examples of Asynchronous communication can be wiki’s, WebCT, email distributive lists etc. Why I say that these take time is because they are not instataneous. As new information is placed on the wiki’s, WebCT, email etc. People are able to ‘add’ their own comments, thoughts ans opinions on Asynchronous communication sites.

Wikipedia is probably the biggest online ‘wiki’ site. People are able to log into wikipedia and change it, if the information is wrong. This is probably the single biggest Asynchronous Communication site out on the Internet to date.

Other Asynchronous Communication sites are:

Hotmail is a collaborative tool used to pass on information to one another.

I quite frequently write on http://www.bigfooty.com this website is where AFL fans come together and discuss their teams in a friendly and sometimes fiery way. This is technically called a message board or also known as a wiki and it is a form of Asynchronous Communication.

Other Asynchronous tools are: (Where possible I will provide a link)

Discussion Boards

Blogs (http://www.wordpress.com)

Email

Streaming Audio

Streaming Video

Narrated Slideshows

Surveys and Polls

Shared Calendars

Digital Natives and Digital Immigrants

The article by Prensky – Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants is quite an interesting read because it looks at the way students have changed, and education with it. The article starts off with quite a thought provoking quote of:

Today’s students are no longer the people our educational system was designed to teach.

This quote quite sums up the sentiments of Prensky’s view of the world today which in his opinion is set up in two ways:

We have the digital natives (Gen Z, N or D) depending on what you would like to call them, which have basically grown up with the technology around them; computers, xboxes, wii’s etc have formed the ubiqitous lives which Gen Z have become accustomed to. On the other hand we have the digital immigrants, which if you haven’t figured out by now is the rest of the world, so the Baby Boomers, Gen X, Gen Y etc all fit into the digital immigrants mould, these people have not had the luxury of having technology available to them, some of these people had to deal with the first use of Fortran, DOS and other systems before GUI’s were even invented. Most Baby Boomers and Gen Xers consider themselves technologically illiterate so it is interesting how people have become engaged into the technology.

Digital Immigrants don’t believe their students can learn successfully while watching TV or listening to music, because they (the Immigrants) can’t. Of course not – they didn’t practice this skill constantly for all of their formative years. Digital Immigrants think learning can’t (or shouldn’t) be fun. Why should they – they didn’t spend their formative years learning with Sesame Street.

The quote I have just put into the document sums up how Digital Immigrants are vastly different to Digital Natives, Digital natives are so used to having information readily available to them, or by the click of a mouse, being able to multitask really well and listen to music while doing homework or watching TV, while talking on the phone, while eating dinner and reading tonight’s maths homework. Digital Natives have become accustomed to these annomalies in today’s digital society.

As educators, we need to be thinking about how to teach both Legacy and Future content in the language of the Digital Natives. The first involves a major translation and change of methodology; the second involves all that PLUS new content and thinking. It’s not actually clear to me which is harder – “learning new stuff” or “learning new ways to do old stuff.” I suspect it’s the latter.

As highlighted in this quote, as educator we need to be able to teach students of the future, it is a well known fact that most preps that enter school, over 90% of them, their careers haven’t even been invented yet. So what are we teaching them? We as teachers, need to be able to teach the future wave of students at an earlier age all out technology and its use in society.

The crux of the article comes about half way through it as a quote made me stand out and take notice.

Monkey Wrench has been phenomenally successful in getting young people interested in learning the software.

Digital Natives did not want to embrace the new software for engineering because it had too many buttons, so they decided to make a game from the software to engage the Natives. I thought, what a brilliant thing to do. “Digital Native” methodology is the way that we as educators should view education as a way to re-engage todays society.

If Digital Natives can learn all 151 pokemon, their moves, abilities and stealth then surely we as educators can provide some sort of education stimuli in Mathematics, Literacy etc.

In geography – which is all but ignored these days – there is no reason that a generation that can memorize over 100 Pokémon characters with all their characteristics, history and evolution can’t learn the names, populations, capitals and relationships of all the 181 nations in the world. It just depends on how it is presented.

Strengths and Weaknesses of Two Communication Tools

To be continued…

Questions

Are you a DN or DI? What about the people you are currently working with at your workplace/institution. Are they digital immigrants or natives? Is it difficult to teach/train them? What methods do you follow to train them?

DN

Find a mailing/discussion list related to your area of interest and subscribe by email. Briefly explain what this list is and let the class know what is happening with your list…some details including the average number of messages received per day/week, the advantage of being a member of that list etc.

ICT run by Paula Christopherson

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Comments
  1. karambara says:

    Thanks for the wealth of information given.

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