I like this. This is the response I’ve been seeking for those Educationists who are forever repeating these myths. Often those who generate more heat than light here are those who profess to be experts, namely the Educational Technologists. And, really, one would think we should believe them when they say today’s youth are different.They’re supposed to know. Unfortunately, far too often, they themselves understand so little about the technology in which they claim expertise that they genuinely don’t know.
It’s the old blind men and an elephant joke. All they can “see” is the surface of the tiny bit they can touch. If you have convinced yourself that using something means you understand it, then, sure, it looks very much like the current generation “understands” technology. And if you yourself don’t actually understand more than superficial things about it, why would you think differently. After all, it’s hard to know what you don’t know, right?
‘Cept, of course, if you claim to be an expert in technology, then, you really should know. If you actually did understand tech as opposed to simply how to use tech, it would be obvious that the following are NOT true:
- Possessing new ways of knowing and being. A persisting claim within digital native discourse is that there is an urgent need for educational institutions (administrators, educators) and parents to recognize and adapt to digital native learners who possess new learning styles or different ways of knowing and being. This viewpoint sees current problems with education as a part of old ways of schooling (i.e., old ways of being and knowing), often associated with digital immigrants.
- Driving a digital revolution transforming society. Another dominant claim is that there is a pressing need to acknowledge and accept a digital revolution transforming society. Many argue that this revolution is especially evident within and important for higher education.
- Innately or inherently tech-savvy. Within digital native discourse, students are seen as innately or inherently tech-savvy, desiring and using digital technology in all arenas, as opposed to older educators who lack tech-savvy.
- Multi-taskers, team-oriented, and collaborative. Net generation students are often said to be multi-taskers, team-oriented, and collaborative.
- Native speakers of the language of technologies. Purported as native speakers of the language of technologies, digital natives are often seen as having unique viewpoints and abilities, especially regarding their unique aptitude for the language of technology.
- Embracing gaming, interaction, and simulation. According to digital native claims, gaming, interaction, and simulation (i.e., multi-linear, visual, virtual environments) are both embraced by and well-suited to the Net generation.
- Demanding immediate gratification. The Net generation is often portrayed as demanding immediate gratification, with short attention spans and no tolerance for delays. However, even some digital native proponents dispute this argument, such as Tapscott.
- Reflecting and responding to the knowledge economy. Proponents of digital native notions often present a strong relationship between needs of the Net generation and the knowledge economy (i.e., students as consumers, demanding customer satisfaction), specifically within the context of the Information Age.
If, on the other hand, we give up on these convenient claims, we are left having to examine the failings of education system itself, including the Educationists. That isn’t nearly as much fun.