ICT 5151 – Refuting Prensky’s Digital natives

Refuting Prensky and the ‘Digitial Natives’ and ‘Digitial Immigrants’ is the article ‘The Digital Natives Debate’ Sue Bennett, Karl Maton, Lisa Kervin

Two main claims made by Prensky

– A distince generation of Digital Natives exist

– Education must fundamentally change to meet the needs of the Digital Natives

Its interesting because Prensky’s article and his claims really lack any research and substance.

Prensky’s claims that many students – ‘Digital Natives’ are familiar with technology such as computers, the internet, mobile phones, video games, does not look at that while students are familiar with word processing, the internet, emailing – only a minority are engaged in creating their own content and multimedia.

While students use the internet for homework, downloading podcasts, use social networking sites and create blogs, it hardly fits into the ‘Digital Natives’ ideas of students creating and moulding their own worlds through Digital technologies.

That all students are ‘Digital Natives’ also makes assumptions rather than considering factors for computer use such as socio-economic status, gender, cultural / ethnic background – these really need to be comprehensively investigated.

Technology skills and experience are far from universal among young people.

A good point made is that of the danger that those students who are less interested and less able in digital technologies will be neglected. Prensky’s ‘Digital Natives’ certainly has its ‘forgotten people’ as well as its ‘Digital Immigrants’.

Presnsky’s assumptions about students multitasking also ignores how students learn. That students can ‘learn’ through games, ignores not only how students learn, but that research has been inadequate into how games help students learn. Would games help all students of all ages learn? would games help females as well as males learn?

The major point is that ‘Digital Natives’ really lacks any empirical evidence and research to support Presnskys claims about all students being ‘Digital Natives’ and the Digital technology as a learning tool appeals to all student learning abilities.

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