Thursday, July 27, 2017

"Digital Natives My A**"

Kids today may be "digital natives", may have grown up with electronics in their hands, but most don't know much about them besides how to use a few chosen apps on their phones.  Seriously, I've encountered more than a few students who couldn't save a file to a flash drive on a computer.  Asking them to folders on their phones so they could organize pictures so they don't have to scroll through thousands to find the one picture they want to show me--"You can do that?"

Teachers who use the "digital native" term are merely looking for an excuse not to teach.  Yes, I know I just painted with a pretty broad brush, but the statement is more true than not.  There's a world of difference between teaching and letting kids play with electronics.

It should be obvious to anyone who knows anything about electronics that most students don't know as much about electronics as many in my generation do; after all, we taught ourselves how to program in BASIC on TRS-80's!  We used DOS, ferchrissakes!  We're more familiar with how things operate because we were in at the beginning and, while not having used electronics all our lives, we've used electronics for 30+ years (I bought my first computer in 1981).  Kids know how to use Snapchat and Instagram, but that doesn't mean they know much about anything else electronic.

And it certainly doesn't mean that we should teach them differently:


Current discussions about educational policy and practice are often embedded in a mind-set that considers students who were born in an age of omnipresent digital media to be fundamentally different from previous generations of students. These students have been labelled digital natives and have been ascribed the ability to cognitively process multiple sources of information simultaneously (i.e., they can multitask). As a result of this thinking, they are seen by teachers, educational administrators, politicians/policy makers, and the media to require an educational approach radically different from that of previous generations. This article presents scientific evidence showing that there is no such thing as a digital native who is information-skilled simply because (s)he has never known a world that was not digital. It then proceeds to present evidence that one of the alleged abilities of students in this generation, the ability to multitask, does not exist and that designing education that assumes the presence of this ability hinders rather than helps learning. The article concludes by elaborating on possible implications of this for education/educational policy.
Go read the whole thing. The text itself is only 5 pages, plus title page and references.


David said...

I have my students do bibliographies through a website called or use their app.
I even say to the kids, "I will give you a zero on this assignment if you don't have a correctly done bibliography."
I show them how to use the website once in front of the entire class using LCD projector.
I have kids still coming and asking how to use the website even though the directions are clearly laid out on their site.
"I have a book and it is not coming up?"
"Did you click on book?"
"Oooooohhhhh" *feels stupid now*

Darren said...

I've heard of easybib. When I was writing and submitting papers (all of 8 months ago), I just used the bibliography generator built in to MS Word. I guess easybib is for people who use a word processor besides Word.

David said...

Well with easybib, all you need is the website address or isbn and it does everything else for you.

Pseudotsuga said...

I'd like to read the whole thing, but it's limited in accessibility (i.e. I am not a member of any institution that has paid to access that journal.)
Regarding EasyBib -- it has an automatic "cite the website-- enter URL here" function that MSWord doesn't have, and MSWord's Reference function requires a few more active brain cells.

Ellen K said...

This is true. And it is something I have said repeatedly for the last five years. Students may have learned to read on tablets, but it doesn't mean they know how to effectively use them. I have had seniors who don't know how to use a glossary. I have students who don't know how to research beyond Wikipedia or Google. These are students heading into college lacking the skills their older siblings had seven years ago. As a result we have kids who are capable of work, but who have been denied the opportunity to do the heavy lifting that creates intellectual muscle. It's time to stop coddling kids in high school and college. It is time to let them experience failure so that they can appreciate success.

Peggy U said...

Gaaah ... Read the abstract, but have to purchase the article if I want to read it. :(