Running Head: DIGITAL NATIVE & IMMIGRANT INDIVIDUAL PRACTICES

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Running Head: DIGITAL NATIVE & IMMIGRANT INDIVIDUAL PRACTICES








Digital Natives and Immigrants


A
Case
Study of Individual Digital Practices

Dennis Lubbers ID # 10081590

Medaille College School of Education

July 23, 2010



DIGITAL NATIVE & IMMIGRANT INDIVIDUAL PRACTICES

1


Digital Natives and Immigrants


A
Case
Study of Individual Digital Practices

Abstract

The Purpose of this article is to study the differences between Digital Natives (those born
and raised during the digital age) and Digital Immigrants (all others who saw the introduction
and development).
A

research
questionnaire was

completed to gain ins
ight of individuals
thinking ways and social practices. The results are co
mpared and discussed against literary
works
.

Introduction

Technology is evolving at an unfathomable rate. Computers, software, handheld devices,
voice recognition, communications t
echnology, cameras and video are being developed daily to
stay ahead of the competition. The changes in media, information and technology has affected
the way society communicates, thinks, lives and views the world around us.

We are n
o longer
held to the
geographical boundaries of our communities. The world
community is available to us in the blink of any eye. We have access to people, places and
things from the comfort of our own homes. Books, newspapers, magazines are all made
available on the World W
ide Web to peruse at our leisure. Do it yourself, self help and medical
diagnostics tools make us self
-
acclaimed experts in all that we do. SMS, texting, cell phones,
email, video messaging and conferencing have given instant access to our virtual commun
ity.

The walls of the 20
th

century world are rapidly falling crashing down and being replaced
by the new digital era of the 21
st

century.
In his article 'Adopt and Adapt: Twenty
-
first
-
century
Schools

Need Twenty
-
first
-
century Technology', Marc Prensky, f
ounder

and CEO of
Games2Train, coined the term 'digital natives' to

describe those students born into digital
technology.

Conversely,

their teachers (and all older ad
ults) are 'digital immigrants'

(Freyvaud,
DIGITAL NATIVE & IMMIGRANT INDIVIDUAL PRACTICES

2


2008)
. If we accept that there may a differen
ce between the old and new generations, then this
opens the door to question what these differences actually are.

The importance of the distinction
is this: As Digital Immigrants learn


like all immigrants, some better than others


to adapt to
their envi
ronment, they always retain, to some degree, their "accent," that is, their foot in the
past. (Prensky, 2001)

Literature Review

It has not been scientifically proven that the brain has developed differently under the
lifelong influence of internet, computers, and technology.

However, a
s a result of this ubiquitous
environment and the sheer volume of their interaction with it, toda
y’s students
think and process
information fundamentally differently
from their predecessors. These differences go far further
and deeper than most educators suspect or realize. (Prensky, 2001)

T
he way that the digital
native thinks, learns and behaves has

been studied and there are great differences between the
digital native and the digital immigrant.

The natives are no
longer "little versions of us," as they
may have been in the past. In fact, they are so different from us that we can no longer use eith
er
our 20th century knowledge or our training as a guide to what is best for them educationally.
(Prensky, 2005)

The changes in technology and its effect on society are rapidly changing. Schools are
stuck in the 20th century. Students have rushed into the

21st. How can schools catch up and
provide students with a relevant education? (Prensky, 2005) School
administration

and advisors
need to review this ever dynamic digital age and ground themselves in the learning practices of
today

s students. Educator
s have reluctantly slid into the 21st century


and into the digital age


still doing a great many things the old way. Recognizing and analyzing its characteristics
DIGITAL NATIVE & IMMIGRANT INDIVIDUAL PRACTICES

3


will help define the education leadership with which we should be providing our students
, both
now and in the coming decades. (Prensky, 2005)

Times have changed. So, too, have the students, the tools, and the

requisite skills and
knowledge
(Prensky, 2005)
. Students are learning more from their constant connection to the
online world than the
y do at school. The digital native is gaining greater, deeper and faster
knowledge from technology and video games than from the current school setting.

Students universally tell us they prefer dealing with questions rather than answers,
sharing their opi
nions, participating in group projects, working with real
-
world issues and
people, and having teachers who talk to them as equals rather than as inferiors.
Hopefully, this is useful information for teachers and other educators
--

and it is
important that e
ducators realize just how universal these opinions are. (Prensky, 2008)


Our students have changed radically. Today’s students are no longer the people our
educational system was designed to teach
. (Prensky, 2001) This resonates with many parents
and teac
hers, who are feeling irrelevant and uninformed about their children's technology
-
rich
world and powerless when it comes to knowing how to protect
them from themselves and others
(Freyvaud, 2008)
.


The
re

needs to be constant interaction
between

students
and administrators

to develop
and improve their educational experience and begin teaching the things that matter to them.
Large corporations spend millions of dollars in consulting fees and research

and development to
understand
what their customer wants.

But the needs and want of the student are routinely and
intentionally ignored. To the Digital Natives


school often feels pretty much as if we’ve
brought in a population of heavily accented, unintelligible foreigners to lecture them. They often
can’t u
nderstand what the Immigrants are saying. (Prensky, 2001)

They don’t understand,
DIGITAL NATIVE & IMMIGRANT INDIVIDUAL PRACTICES

4


because there is no relevance to their society today. It is ironic that the cookies on a student’s
computer know more about their interests and learning style than th
eir

ed
ucators. (Prensky,
2008)

If the Digital Immigrant educator really wants to appreciate their Native students, then
they must embrace the ways in which they are engaged and learn. Teachers must respect that the
students have so much more knowledge and ex
perience with the digital age, and stick to what
they do best, lead discussions, promote critical thinking and self learning.
They
will
succeed in
the long run


and their successes will come that much sooner if their administrators support
them.

(Prensky
, 2001)

Methodology

I
s there a truly a difference in the thinking, learning and actions of a so called Digital
Native and a Digital Immigrant. A set of
interview questions was created in a collaborative
group setting. The questions were developed to inve
stigate a wide range of activities within our
society. As required, additional supporting questions were asked to get deeper information into
the parent question.

Two individuals were asked these questions, one from each criterion
. The subjects
are

a
mother daughter relation from rural
Southwestern

Ontario.
This particular relationship was
chosen to eliminate any other external factors and differences from demographics and/or social
economics.
The Digital Immigrant (mother) is in her late 40s, act
ive in the family farm and
mother of seven. The Digital Native is 17 years old

female

and child number five.

The question
s were

broken down into three main categories: communications, performed
task
sd
, and research/information. The reason for the breakdo
wn was to support the comparison
DIGITAL NATIVE & IMMIGRANT INDIVIDUAL PRACTICES

5


of the Digital Native and Digital Immigrant. The method of comparison will be to determine
areas of similarities, while at the same time have areas of significant contrast.

Results


The first area of comparison is that of
communications.
Both subjects were asked
to
describe their
main mode of communication with a close friend and how do they take and display
pictures.
There is a large gap in communications style between the Digital Native (DN) and the
Digital Immigrant
(DI).


The DI prefers traditional ways of communicating. She prefers to talk to a close friend in
person, very adamantly stating
neither on the phone nor

through email, texting or chat. She will
arrange a social meeting time and place by phone. As for p
ictures, the DI has upgraded to a
digital camera, however all the digital pictures and printed out for display in a scrap book. She
prefers the real feel of a photo album to display her precious memories.


The DN prefers to keep her 3G phone close to her
side for texting purposes. This is a
convenient method to talk to her friends when they are not together. It is also a great means to
communicate to friends in other classes to plan after school activities. Her phone is dual
purpose; equipped with a cam
era, it enables her to capture her digital memories and readily share
then on the social networking site, Facebook.


The second area of comparison is
performed task
s
. Both subjects were asked how and
what they shop for, how they meet their banking needs,

and how would they go about creating an
advertisement.


The DI’s main shopping adventure is for groceries. She religiously waits for weekly
flyers to arrive in the mail, and meticulously plans her shopping excursion based on the best deal
and who will no
t be undersold. When probed if she ever viewed the stores online flyers, she
DIGITAL NATIVE & IMMIGRANT INDIVIDUAL PRACTICES

6


indicated that would take the fun out of waiting game. The person and farm banking needs are
all taken care of by means of the friendly nei
ghbourhood bank teller. Her weekly tr
ip in to town
includes a stop at the local coffee shop and made complete by the friendly service and a very
welcoming, “Hello there, Mrs. B., how can we help you today.”
She knows how to do online
banking, but just appreciates the personal feel of banking

with a teller. As for an advertisement,
Microsoft Office tools would be of choice to make a flyer to go in the mail.


The DN enjoys going to the mall to shop for clothes, accessories and hair products. She
does not shop online, or take advantage. She d
oes her banking from the ATM machine because
her paychecks are still in hard paper form. She indicated that her older siblings all use online
banking, and she will most likely begin to once she goes to university and needs to manage her
funds closer. She

would use a computerized draw/word program to create an advertisement and
distribute the flyer throughout the community.


The thir
d area of comparison is
research/information
. Both subjects were asked how
they would find the answer to a question that the
y had, how they would look up the meaning of a
word, and how they would make travel plans.


The DI would find the answer to a question through a local expert or knowledgeable
person. She gave an example of a recent infestation of bees on their farm. Thro
ugh the phone
book yellow pages, they found a local bee keeper who offered his expert opinion. Being not
satisfied with the results, she resorted to the internet to search out her own solution. The
dictionary is the most obvious solution to finding the m
eaning of the word. Just recently, she has
been introduced to the world of www.dictionary.com. All travel plans are made through the
local travel agent. She also has a very handy book with information about all of Ontario’s finest
campgrounds. She uses

this book to plan the family’s summer camping trips.

DIGITAL NATIVE & IMMIGRANT INDIVIDUAL PRACTICES

7



The DN uses her cell phone and navigates to the Google search engine to find answer to
questions she has. She uses the thesaurus function through Microsoft Word,
and uses
dictionary.com to determine t
he meaning of a word. Travel plans to place of interest are made
on the internet. She recently booked a class trip to Ontario’s Blue Mountain Resort by finding
the information on the internet. She however, does not give out credit card information throu
gh
the internet for personal safety and security reasons.


Two final summary questions were asked about their experiences with technology; in
what way has technology helped you and how has it hindered you.


The DI
explained that technology has made things
more convenient, with information
being readily and quickly available. She views technology as more of a nuisance than helpful.
The barns on the family farm are automated and have complete integration with technology. The
complaint is that it cannot be
trusted. You cannot rely on technology to take care of living
animals. It is only a tool to help in the farming process. She also indicated that it appears that
people have lost their social skills. She feels that face
-
to
-
face relationships are more va
lid than
virtual relationships via social networking.

She also finds that technology is robbing us of our
basic thinking skills. She gave mention that her son (in grade 9) could not manually count back
change while tending to a hotdog stand at a ball tournament.


The DN

appreciates technology for the convenience of available information. It also
helps her to connect to more people in distant places. She is slightly concerned with her digital
dossier. The negative side to technology is once the information is on the in
ternet, it will always
be available. She also feels that technology has provided an easy access to the wide vastly
expanding world of pornography. It is too readily accessible for all members of society, young
and old alike.

DIGITAL NATIVE & IMMIGRANT INDIVIDUAL PRACTICES

8




Discussion


It is obvious f
rom this case study that there are differences in
the ways we communicate,
perform tasks and
obtain information, based on how we perceive
technology.
The selection of
the
mother/daughter subject pair eliminates any differences because of social economic p
osition,
religion or geographical demographic, but also allows to determine if there are passed down
traits in regards to technology.


The digital immigrant maintains a very heavy accent (Prensky, 2001). There is very little
technology or technological ai
ds used throughout her daily routines. She finds it disturbing that
her own children are not capable of completing tasks that she finds important. But are they truly
important items, does the digital native even find these items to be relevant in their l
ife.


This begs the question, from whose point of view is the curriculum in today’s s
chools
being taught. Is it from the digital native’s point of view or the digital immigrant’s? Are
we
teaching
relevant and meaningful content by means of a method that
is understood by the 21
st

century student?


The world and society is technologically driven. For example, the Digital Immigrant’s
son was not able to calculate the required change to return to the customers. Some may find this
disturbing and others may
not. But let me lead you away from disturbing. Is it relevant to
expect someone to be able to compute simple addition and subtraction in their head? There are
calculator’s and POS systems to perform the computation for us. We need to teach the relevant

skills required to use such technological tools. These skills being problem solving, critical
thinking, analytical thought processing
, algorithms

and programming.
The fundamentals of
DIGITAL NATIVE & IMMIGRANT INDIVIDUAL PRACTICES

9


education are changing
. N
o longer is the computation valued, it is the

critical thought process to
evaluate the outcome that is
deemed relevant to the Digital Native student
.


It is now clear that there are differences between digital immigrants and digital natives,
even when one raises the other. Everyone leans towards wha
t is comfortable. A landed
immigrant usually settles in an area that is rich in heritage and culture of their homeland. I have
experienced firsthand,
relatives,

who
emigrated

from the Netherlands over 50 years ago,
forgetting English in their final hours

and speaking only in
their native Dutch. They go back to
what was instilled in them at a young age. For this reason, the analogy of the digital immigrant
is so fitting. They revert away from technology and
proceed with what is comfortable and this
comf
ort range unique to the individual.


It is very important to realize that the digital native only knows technology. It is instilled
in them from a young age, and technology is what they will revert back to when challenged or
threatened. We need to be cog
nizant of this fundamental difference. This is how they learn.
Students are learning far more today outside of school, engaging themselves in digital media,
communications, social networking, video game play, and the internet. We need to harness this
en
gagement and use it as a tool to drive student learning. Does the content need to change, or
just the method in which the content is taught? I find the latter to be more representative of the
task at hand.


Learning Points


As a future educator, this min
or case study indicates that there is a difference. As a
digital immigrant,
I am not fully aware of the learning habits and styles of communication that
today’s students have. Moving forward, I will complete a case study for every class

that I teach
.
At

the beginning of the year or semester,
I will
begin with a survey/questionnaire to begin open
DIGITAL NATIVE & IMMIGRANT INDIVIDUAL PRACTICES

10


dialogue and discussion to understand the how they learn, how they communicate, how they
function. It will not be purposeful for me to clone myself to be like t
hem. It is for me to
understand them and their traits, so that I can creatively adapt my teaching methods to the
characteristics of each class and each student within that class.

Each class will be unique in themselves. There will be factors affecting
them that make
them different and unique from the class before. I can only hope that I can reflect on my
teaching methods and adapt in such a way to allow each pupil to reach their full potential.

The second item that I have learned is that we must listen

to our students. They want
engagement, community and a group learning settings. This is how they support each other
socially. I can take advantage of this
knowledge and use it to my advantage by embedding a
learning environment within their group and social setting. Students do not act up in revolt to
overthrow administration; they act up to be heard. If I can make
a

personal connection with the
students i
n my class, then they will be more receptive to learn the skills necessary to continue
learning.

I don’t think that I will completely understand what truly drives a digital native because
of my own immigrant accent.
However, in

reflecting on this study an
d reviewing the literature
indicates that all I have to do is be aware. I must teach the digital native in way so that my
digital accent is limited, enabling a greater understanding of the concepts and the lessons that are
required to be learned.


Referen
ces

DIGITAL NATIVE & IMMIGRANT INDIVIDUAL PRACTICES

11


Freyvaud, R., (2008). JOURNEY to the New World: Young People & Cyberspace.
Screen
Education
, (49), 94
-
99. Retrieved from Communication & Mass Media Complete
database.

Prensky, M., (2001). Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants
. On the Horizon
, 9(5), 1
-
2.
Available:
www.marcprensky.com /writing/Prensky%20
-
%20Digital%20
Natives,%20Digital%20Immigrants %20
-
%20Partl.pdf

Prensky, M. (2005). Listen to the Natives.
Educational Leadership
,
63
(4), 8
-
13. Retrieved from
Academic Search Elite database.

Prensky, M.,

(2008
) Young Mind, Fast Times: The T
wenty
-
First
-
Century Digital Learner


How
tech
-
obsessed iKids would improve our schools.
Edutopi
a, June 2008
. Retrieved from:
http://www.edutopia.org/ikid
-
digital
-
learner
-
technology
-
2008