False Dichotomy

by Jean Tower

from So Digital Natives Don’t Exist, by Tim Wilson,
at http://technosavvy.org/2008/07/20/so-digital-natives-dont-exist/#comment-46978
I was sitting in one of Ewan McIntosh’s sessions at BLC08 and couldn’t help noticing how much delight he took in disputing the digital native/digital immigrant distinction. The native/immigrant comparison may not be accurate (so Ewan says), but it sure is useful.
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I agree with the idea that digital native – digital immigrant is a false dichotomy. I suggest that those younger people referred to as digital natives (by some) are simply more familiar with technology. Familiarity may appear as some kind of native intuition or gift, but could also be explained by experience – more time immersed in using technology. It certainly does not automatically translate into being a critical thinker about how technology might be used in education. From my point of view, all educators need to become more familiar with technology – they need to develop into "natives" by participation. There is no substitute. Standing on the sidelines observing and commenting will not create true expertise. This is accomplished by doing. One of the comments mentioned the old "driving a car" example to show the difference between expert and novice – the good thing about that example is that it is a clear example of earning expertise by participating, by driving. Educators need to drive technology themselves to become experts, to look like "natives" and then to join that new expertise to their educational expertise to lead students in using technology for learning, communicating, creating, and sharing.

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