Another dot in the blogosphere?

Eavesdropping on “natives”

Posted on: March 19, 2018

I did not mean to eavesdrop on a group of undergraduates last week. These were students that many still call “digital natives”.

I had my noise-cancelling headphones on, but I could still hear them even though they were a few tables away from me. They were discussing their professor and the work he gave them.

They seemed confused by their assignment. I quickly took note of some of the things they said:

  • What is “multimedia”?
  • I have no idea what that means!
  • I do not know what to do!
  • I do not know where to start!

So much for being “digital natives”.

Those statements might add to the argument against blindly believing that kids magically know how to use the technology they grow up with.

If you are a teacher, making assumptions that students are somehow natively digital says more about you than about them. You might not be:

  • listening to and observing them as closely as you should
  • aware of the critiques and the research about such “natives”
  • aware how this belief becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy
  • staying relevant with current trends and tools

Watch and learn more about your students. Empathise with their circumstances and challenges. Strive to be a model of why and how to learn.

2 Responses to "Eavesdropping on “natives”"

Actually could it be that precisely because they grew up digitally, phrases like multimedia has no meaning, everything is multimedia afterall. kinda like “the fish doesn’t know it’s in water” quote


Following and extending the logic of fish-in-water: How does the fish not know how to swim or know different swimming strategies?

Simply growing up with technology around us does not make us native to them. The technology evolves and so do expectations. Their use and integration is socially learnt and negotiated. Such use and integration is not just about skills; it is about values too.

Liked by 1 person

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