Friday, March 15, 2013

The Myth About Digital Natives!

"Mom, can I borrow your camcorder?"

His next question, "Mom,do you have a flash drive?"

A what? :)

My son's Senior Project was due in three days.  My son hates letting me see his work because I automatically shift into teacher mode. My expectations for him are higher than what is expected of him in school. Therefore, he doesn't let me see anything that is required.

So, I was thrilled when he decided to share his PowerPoint presentation about women in combat.  I guess part of it was because he was using my camcorder, and part of it was that he felt, maybe, just maybe, this would be a good time to get my input, being a Senior Project and all.

After he informed me that he was going to interview a few people to gather opinions on his topic, I suggested he use Google forms to create a survey.  He could post the survey using social media and get lots of feedback from hs peers. I told him I would be willing to post it as well, so that he would get a variety of views. (Thanks to all who helped out!).

His initial reaction, "What's Google Forms?"

He has a Gmail account. They can access Google at school, but he didn't know what it was. He had never heard of it. I gave him a quick tutorial on how to create and post. Of course, he caught on quickly, and spent the next hour counting how many people answered, their gender, country ,etc.... He enjoyed using it, and was happy with the results he was able to obtain. I loved watching him interpret the data, ("Mom, you are the only female who said  no"), and make inferences.

I tried to convince him to use Sliderocket, instead of Powerpoint, but to no avail.  Even when I told him I could show him how to upload his powerpoint, he still wouldn't budge. I did manage to get him to upload his presentation and video onto Drive, but he held on to that flash drive with a death grip.

He presented, using the flash drive. Started with his survey, went into his Powerpoint, and ended with the videotaped interviews. Apparently, they were impressed because he passed one of the panelists in the hallway the next day, was told how great it was, and that he had passed. (Yeah!)

My point is we can't assume that our students are adept at using and integrating technology. Yes, they can figure out how to use a Smartphone, can text at the speed of light, download an app in the blink of an eye.

But I think it is our duty to do more than that.  They have to be able to research, investigate, and create using these tools, not just post a status and watch a video.  And more importantly, I believe it is our duty as educators, to provide these opportunites.

If my 5th graders know about Google forms, why shouldn't my 12th grader?

Digital? Definitely! Natives? Not even close!

photo credit: molotalk via photopin cc


  1. Honestly? I get a secret thrill when I know something my 12th grader doesn't lol. I think as teachers, we look for apps that help us be productive; our teenagers, on the other hand look for entertainment. Love Google apps, and I was able to show both my children (22 & 18) how to utilize them.
    Glad it's not just me! :-D

  2. My earlier comment never got through, let me try again!

    Good viewpoint. Looks like your definition of Digital Native doesn't match with the actual definition. Like the Wiki says "A digital native is a person who was born during or after the general introduction of digital technologies and through interacting with digital technology from an early age, has a greater understanding of its concepts"

    Going by that, your son is very much a digital native. The fact that he already had a google account and was able to figure out google forms quicker than my dad would (who doesn't have a google account) - kinda proves that he is a digital native. Not knowing one particular tool doesn't make him any less of a digital native.

    Another analogy - I am a Tamil native. My mom is a Tamil professor and scholar of sorts. She can easily point out hundreds of art, culture, history, authors, customs, etc about being a Tamil native, that I wouldn't know. That doesn't make me any less of a Tamil native. I am just one who doesn't completely know my origins. Same goes with being an English native, don't you think?

  3. Here! Here! Your viewpoint may not be what students want to hear, but I think you are correct. Having proficiency with a digital communication tool, a phone, is not digital education, and does not demonstrate that a person knows how to use technology to reveal new information. The digital native means that this person grew up using technology, but it does not indicate that the digital students know how to use technology to demonstrate understanding in projects or collaborate in problem solving. Do you recall reading articles about how teachers might be replaced by technology? Guess not, teachers are still needed to explain or re-explain content, and also to help guide students in learning how to use technology in the process of enhancing learning opportunities.

  4. Interesting points all around. Will technology replace teachers in the future. As a teacher right now, I feel that it is already starting to replace us. Smart phones, tablets, laptops, and wifi access at the touch of a few buttons, and kids have all the education they can handle. Is it the best source of info.....probably not but lets be honest. The attention span of kids in this era has decreased like crazy. Not only has the attention span decreased but the amount of parental support has also become almost non-existent. This combination only means one thing. The only thing kids have left to turn to is technology. I'm sure some of you can relate to this but how many time has a student come up to you with a device and showed you coming you didn't know? Often I'm sure. Well there you have it. Responses?