Digital Natives? Danger of Generalizations

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Facts do not matter! If you say something often enough, and long enough, people will believe it, regardless of the facts. That seems to be the case when it comes to adult perceptions of youth and Technology.

I have written about this before, but obviously a majority of our vast population has missed or not gotten around to my earlier posts. I now teach in Higher Education. My experience is that most students are experienced in texting, downloading music and video, creating some music and many ringtones, and having a fair knowledge of word-processing. Lest I forget, they are master Googlers (I am not even sure that is a word), as well as copy-and-paste superstars.

Primary teachers leave technology to the secondary teachers; Secondary teachers leave technology to the Higher Ed Teachers; and Higher Ed teachers assume that students are “digital natives”. Tech skills of Collaboration, Communication, Critical Thinking, Research, Social Learning, and Media Literacy in general are not being taught by some educators, but rather being assumed to be mastered by our digital natives.

In this post, Tom writes once again (eloquently) about the misleading generalization that is the ‘Digital Natives’ construct. I too have wirtten about this – and have even conducted some research with a colleague (see this blog). We have written about the dangers of over generalizations such as this one. I understand how Prensky & others wanted to stir up the education establishment to change, however, when we believe the fallacies that have arisen from this, we can leave some students behind by assuming they can do & understand certain things. And, as Tom points out we certainly cannot assume they have the skills in media literacy and collaboration.

Tom’s point about “If you say something often enough, and long enough, people will believe it, regardless of the facts.” has application in many other areas as well – just look at some of the nonsense happening around education ‘reform’ in the U.S. now – the experts seem to be the rich and powerful, not the knowledgeable and reflective!

 

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