Digital Native, Digital Immigrant Reflection

Sesame Street, the obsession with Super Mario Bros on Nintendo, and playing a computer game off a five and a quarter inch floppy disk definitely branded me a digital native. I cannot remember a time in my life when some form of entertainment did not consist of a new technological advancement. Now I have become quite dependent on all of these wonderful things I grew up thinking were just toys, and I’m extremely thankful for the fluency I have in the digital world.

The familiarity I possess with older technologies makes it much simpler to adapt to the updates occurring daily. However, I am also familiar with those labeled as digital immigrants. My interactions with those whose lives did not always involve anything else but a telephone and a color TV have been quite varied. I am very proud to say that all of my digital immigrant peers at Koa Elementary have done everything in their power to incorporate technology into various aspects of their days and adjust their teaching styles to fit the needs of the population we are working with. This has created a successful learning environment for many students, and although it was a struggle for several teachers, their technological development is commendable. Unfortunately, I have also met with teachers who still believe the most powerful educational tool available is the overhead projector. As a D-gen student, I had teachers who fit into that category at every level of my educational path. Although I still managed to succeed in their class, my desire for learning was severely squelched by the professors who did not care to modify their tried and true chalkboard outline for a simple upgrade into digitally engaging lessons.

These observations have prompted me to recurrently reflect on the lessons I bring to my students. My favorite question to ask myself is, “Would I want to sit there for an hour and participate in this lesson?” I currently teach four periods of science, and I have found this to be one of the greatest benefits to my ability to plan engaging lessons for my students. Not only am I just preparing for one subject, which gives me extra time to concentrate on the lesson preparation itself, but it motivates me to create the most groundbreaking lesson possible for my students. My theory is that if I can use technology so effectively that I am still enjoying my science lesson after my fourth period, then surely the children in my class were engaged for the one period they joined me for.

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5 thoughts on “Digital Native, Digital Immigrant Reflection

  1. I love the question you ask yourself about your instruction…it’s really a great one that all teachers should keep in mind! I know that I wasn’t always able to create the most engaging lessons, or even ones that I felt were compelling, but when I did, it was magic. What was difficult for me at times was that the ideas that were compelling to me, weren’t always compelling to students. When I was creating a long term learning experience (anything more than about 5 days), I had a few students I’d check in with to quickly ask whether they thought it sounded fun, important, boring, etc. Between my instincts and their feedback, we ended up doing some pretty cool things!

    I wondered about your comment on digital immigrants…that some were quick to jump on board and experiment with new technologies to stay current, while others were resistant and continued in their “chalk&talk” ways. I wanted to know if you had any thoughts as to what the ratio is on that–I know in my experience it’s been about 70-30, with about half the 30% who are resistant saying that they would if they had time/opportunity for training. I wonder whether there’s any correlation between a teacher’s pedagogical style and their willingness to use technology.

    Thanks for sharing!

  2. “Would I want to sit there for an hour and participate in this lesson?” is a question all educators should seriously ask before each lesson plan. The great thing about technology in the classroom is that it provides a means for students to take part in their lessons versus just sitting there hearing someone talk. I mean what is more productive-being told how to paint a chair, or being allowed to paint the chair as someone guides you?

  3. Your reference to the resistance of some educators took me back to my farming years in Indiana. I had the privilege to work for a very energentic and cutting edge type of farmer, who in his sixties, was still open and willing to learn, as well as attempt new ideas in order to farm more efficiently. As a fellow educator, I have found that the use of technoloy in the classroom brings to life concepts for students, along with increasing their level of engagement. Your self examination question was excellent. Thanks for the thought-provoking post.

  4. However, where do you draw the line on what technologies to use and how much to use them? I ask because, as a technically minded individual, I am more apt to learn from a “chalkboard” teacher than I am from an instructor with a Powerpoint presentation. Technically minded people do not accept paragraphs of information, but instead analyze each sentence word-by-word. They do not accept fact, but derive it piece-by-piece. Thus, it is more appropriate to have them follow along as you write out information on a whiteboard, than it is to present it in flashy-colored pre-written slides. Now I’m not saying that technology is useless, as I believe that multimedia has many great instructional uses. I’m simply asking, where do you draw the line on when to use, or not use, new technologies?

    1. JD,
      Thank you so much for your insightful questions. I wholeheartedly agree that each student should be approached as an individual. Technology is not the best method for every child. It sounds to me like you would benefit more from experimenting with a lesson such as force and motion, and therefore deriving meaning from it yourself, rather than having a well meaning professor drill you with an awesome PowerPoint about force and motion. Remember also that technology is not limited solely to PowerPoint anymore. Multimedia and hypertext offer a plethora of methods for engaging students of all learning styles.

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