Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Provocative Discourse

While the main aim for lifelong learners appears to be entering the conversation, it seems that digital natives or not, these learners lack a lot of basic skills. I find myself focusing on really basic things, like how to open a browser, how to use tabs instead of windows, keyboarding (which I am terrible at myself), remembering ones own usernames and passwords.
I'm doubting whether the duality of digital natives versus digital immigrants is even fitting. I myself am best described as an illegal alien in the digital world. Many of the teens with whom I speak are unfamiliar with the deep web, Skype, RSS, things that I consider mainstays. Are we doing this generation a disservice by assigning a label too soon?
If the learners in our rooms are expected to know more than they do and to learn digital survival skills more quickly, then yes, we are doing them a disservice. Fact remains, to be a successful citizen this generation will need to be comfortable using digital basic skills. Skills that I rarely see in the PreK through 12th grade learners in our school. Now, I'm not saying these learners are not smart - in fact they are brilliant! But they just don't possess those basic skills yet - maybe that is why our society has school in the first place.
So my main dilemma remains, how do I both equip these learners with the digital skills they need and engage them in conversations with other learners? Are the NETS standards enough?
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Damian said...

While I try to incorporate technology into my HS English classes, I am wary of doing too much due to the time I'll have to devote to teaching the nuts & bolts of wikis, Skype, uStream, etc. I know it's necessary, but I worry about spending a disproportionate amount of time on the tech aspects - it is English class, after all.

Maybe the answer is to include some discrete skills training (Computer Technology 101, 102, etc.) throughout the K-12 spectrum. Associated costs aside, that would allow the computer tech teacher to lay the basic groundwork, and teachers to build upon existing skills in the "content area" classes.

Of course, school districts would want to get the most bang for their buck, so they'd want to see these technologies implemented in all their classes (perhaps regardless of the fit). That would also require content area teachers to become facile with those tools, too.

You can tell them, though. I'll be back here hiding behind this desk.

Mathew said...

This conversation went on at length on Classroom 2.0...


My own view is that I wouldn't throw out the term. They are digital natives because they have grown up with technology and some teachers are immigrants because they are more afraid of technology. However, this does not mean that teachers don't have to teach students how to use the technology in the same way that teachers have to teach students concepts of print with books. I also think sometimes teachers want to throw away the term digital native because students don't use the same tools their teachers do. Students may not use RSS or skype but they do use Myspace, iPods, and cell phones. We can certainly teach them new tools but we can't expect that our native tools will necessarily be theirs.