Digital Whatevers

I'm trying to duck dive my way through my report writing (a la John Pearce and Paul Harrington), stupidly decided that this week I'd start playing with Google Reader as an alternative to Bloglines but haven't switched completely to one or the other and consequently am running over a lot of posts twice but this post from Karyn Romeis is hitting a nerve that just has to be written about. Let me explain.

I gave yet another interactive whiteboard presentation after school today to a hubgroup of preschool educators. The local director and one of her staff had attended my parent IWB information evening and had requested I do a similar type of thing focussing on how this technology can enhance teaching and learning. I didn't have a lot of time to prepare so I used the presentation flipchart from last year and it references Mark Prensky's bandied-to-death analogy of "digital natives/ immigrants". It is useful as a generalisation and as a starting point for conversation but like Karen, I feel a touch dishonest using a phrase that she points out isn't terribly accurate. She uses the medium of television in South Africa to illustrate her point:

In 1982, the kids starting school in South Africa were the first intake ever to have been exposed to TV since birth. There was a flurry of interested speculation - how different would these kids be? Within a very short space of time, it became evident that they were not somehow magically more able to use the TV or interact with the content presented than those who were not born to the technology.

And she summarises how educators (or anyone) can jump the digital divide:

There is another analogy to draw from South Africa's late adoption of TV. They didn't start with the old black and white valve powered sets of the first world's yesteryear and follow the path taken by the trailblazers. They jumped straight in with state of the art technology and (for one thing) their sports coverage was recognised as being world class, pretty much from the off.

I see no reason for things to be any different in respect of web 2.0 technologies either. Why should late adopters have to start where the innovators and early adopters did? They'll jump straight in at the point that these leaders have reached, and pretty soon be indistinguishable from them!

Some very poignant observations - the digital immigrant tag can be a cop out for many educators. Interestingly, the enhanced version of Karl Fisch's Did You Know? is what most of the preschool people were talking about at the end of the session as compelling evidence for education keeping pace. And hey, if an interactive whiteboard gets them started and envisioning the possibilities, what's wrong with that? Better than digital immigrant denial.

[slideshare id=33834&doc=shift-happens-23665&w=425]

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4 thoughts on “Digital Whatevers

  1. Karyn Romeis

    Increasingly, people seem to feel that the labels of immigrant and native are “not helpful” as Dave Cormier put it during the recent FOE2007 conference.

    I like Karl Fisch’s stuff, but I’m always a bit puzzled by those stats. My reaction tends to be a bit, “So there are lots of people in China and India. So what?” I don’t know if the scaremongering is intentional, but I don’t find it helpful. I reckon it’s quite North America-centric, although that’s probably (also) unintentional.

    Perhaps the balance of power is going to shift, I don’t know. And if it is, I can’t help thinking that it would be more helpful to prepare for “life after superpower status” than to try desperately to hold onto it. Mind you – I am not and never have been the native of a superpower, so it’s easy for me to say – perhaps I have a different mindset.

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    Mobile Technology in TAFE » The great Digital Native/Immigrant thing debate

  3. msbarnsley

    Hi Graham, Tim Holt has written an interesting post that also discusses the “need to rethink” the whole digitial immigrant/native construct at: Speed/Tim’s Blog/4E0CFC23-42AA-4431-A990-A031BC1E19E8.html
    Cindy Barnsley

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    Learning is Change. ยป Blog Archive » The Case for Purpose, The Case for Better

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