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More on those pesky digital natives

March 17th, 2009 by Graham Attwell

Last nights rant against the idea of digital natives seems to have caused a bit of a stir.
My frustration with the term is not just because it is bad research. It is because we need models and concepts for understanding the profound changes emanating for the ways in which we are using technologies for communicating, sharing and learning. I work both as a part time researcher and a part time developer / implementer (and part time administrator and part time office cleaner! Research is important for us in helping design applications to support learning and working. Of course ideally we would do it ourselves but time and work pressure precludes the in-depth studies I would like to undertake (to say nothing of shortage of funding). So research findings and models are important in informing design and development. And Prensky’s model of the digital native is just wrong. It leads us down a blind alley and diverts us away from an understanding of the real world.

Anyway the rant followedthe joint Jisc Emerge project / Educamp open online seminar on Enterprise 2.0. If you missed the seminar you can watch the recording on the Jisc Elluminate site.

And here is a few of the many tweets I received in answer to my 140 character version of the post – Lets stop taking about digital natives – it is such a useless term – http://tinyurl.com/caemd3

jamesclay @GrahamAttwell and let’s stop talking about the Google Generation while we’re at it.

jurijmlotman @GrahamAttwell  you are right, but maybe the term is useful for tactical reasons #changemanagement

kevhickeyuk @GrahamAttwell Have you read Prenskys paper where even he is moving away from these terms?

darkone @GrahamAttwell Agreed! After careful consideration, we have concluded the ‘digital natives, beloved of the mee-ja, are merely early-adopters

dianadell @josiefraser @GrahamAttwell What term should we use to replace “digital natives” … do we need a label at all? Millennial learners

jpallis001 @GrahamAttwell    learners, the environment and experiences are different, their expectations are different  but

cspannagel @GrahamAttwell I fully agree with you. This would change the focus from “generation” to “competence”

josiefraser @GrahamAttwell hope you can make the digital literacy discussion on the 27th http://icanhaz.com/dldebate

hwilliamson @GrahamAttwell the isthmus project agrees, see http://tinyurl.com/4hxvfe

tmartinowen @GrahamAttwell  I think Vygotsky and Leont’ev have a fairly good framework on how mediation changes our being in the world

tmartinowen @GrahamAttwell  Activity Theory http://is.gd/nG6M

CosmoCat RT @GrahamAttwell Change(s in) how we think, how we learn. ..is also situated in diversity rather than dichotomy http://tinyurl.com/d2u38z

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