TELEDA Learning Block One: Digital Native Digital Immigrant debate

TELEDA’s Learning Block One discussion was around two views on education technology presented by Prensky and Selwyn in these papers

plus the video Digital Natives (3.08) from Below is a summary of comments and responses.

Prensky’s conception generational digital difference was absorbed into early research into education in the 21st century as well as continuing to exist within popular culture.   Selwyn offers both an overview of this research and a calmer perspective. Where young people are born into digital ways of working this does not determine a) the ways in which they use technology nor b) suggest the need for dismantling the curriculum. The focus should be less on the tools and more on the way in which the tools can be used.

The discussion were quick to point out how the ‘principles’ of learning carry on regardless, the technology may be changing the way we do things – but not the nature of things we have to do.  The ‘fundamentals of education remain the same’, students may sit in lectures tweeting and texting or have Facebook open in class, but there is still the need to grasp concepts and apply them to practice.  Comments suggested the image of the competent digital native does not match the reality –  some students embrace technology more than others but it is used to varying degrees, competence with Facebook does not equate with being ‘techno savvy’ and any group contains a mix of users, those adopting new technologies and those needing support and encouragement.

Divides are less between Prensky’s  natives and immigrants but constructed from access parameters and the differing ways access is used. Selwyn adopts a critical approach to technology for education; one which relates access and use to existing ‘social fault lines’ suggesting ‘…some social groups of young people appear to be as ‘digitally excluded’ as older generations, albeit in ways which are less apparent to adult commentators (p 14 ref Selwyn and Facer 2009). Situating educational technology within a broader social, cultural and political framework lies beyond the scope of this short course, which is fundamentally about the practicalities of teaching and learning in a digital age. However, the social impact of the internet and the relationship between digital exclusion and existing structures of marginalisation and disadvantage should not be ignored.

Learning Block One offered opportunities to consider how technology fits within individual practice. Comments suggest participants were not persuaded by the view of technology as determining change but the opportunities for enhancing teaching and learning were recognised. Within this is a resource implication. Where workloads are already stretched to capacity it can be difficult to absorb new ways of working and to learn new skills and competencies. Once way to manage this can be online communities of practice which is the intention of the course; to provide a place where the practicalities of teaching and learning in a digital age can be shared and discussed while not losing sight of the deeper structural issues underpinning adoption and use.

More about Prensky in this blog post here:

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