Rliberni's Blog – Radical language

December 29, 2010

Digital Native: Truth or Fiction?

#Edchat 12-14–2010 – 18:00 CET 12 PM EST

We are very grateful to Tinashe Blanchet (@mrsblanchet) for this week’s summary. It was the last #edchat of the year and turned out to be a very lively and informative session! Many edchatters were born pre-digital but felt themselves no less part of the digital world! Tinashe has captured the atmosphere of the discussion and went one stop further and involved some of her Yr 12 ‘digital natives’ for a real all round view! thank you Tinashe. Find out more about Tinashe in her bio t the end of this post.

Finally,  Merry Christmas and Happy New Year 2011 and we’ll see you all again on January 4th!

This week’s #edchat was all about the new educational buzzword: “digital native”.  This description of today’s student is appearing in blogs, journals, presentations, tweets, and many other forums in which educational technology is the topic of discussion.  Nevertheless, many of us in the classroom wonder if the idea of kids as “digital natives” is reality when many of our students have no clue as to how to use technology in an educational (i.e. non-Facebook) context.  Is is safe to say that because a child was born into the technology age that he or she is digitally literate?  Many teachers have worked hard to stay up-to-date on the latest tech tools, and become offended when it is suggested that their students, by birth, have a better grasp of technology. If our students are “digital natives”, does that make us teachers “digital immigrants” or “digital aliens”?   This was a lively chat with many differing views expressed.  A few of my students (12th graders) participated to give those being labelled a chance to join in the conversation.  Thanks to Dylan, Caralynn, Nancy and Fredy for being a part of this #edchat!

Here are some of the main themes from the discussion: 

Defining the “digital native”

Do teachers and students agree with the widespread use of this label?

Is it safe to assume that our students are digital natives?

Characteristics, and appropriate v. inappropriate assumptions about “digital natives” and how they learn

How do “digital dinosaurs” connect with “digital natives” in relevant ways in an educational setting?

Here is a selection of some of the comments: 

With such a vibrant discussion, it’s almost impossible to do it justice in a summary, but I’ve picked out some of the comments that caught my eye.

@stumpteacher: Digital native is a term just to mean “born in tech” age, not a tech guru. #edchat
@drdouggreen:  @ShellTerrell The term is misused a lot. I am 63 and I would make my tech knowledge against any native. #edchat
@tomwhitby:  I prefer the idea of digital Residents and digital Visitors. #Edchat
@drdouggreen:  #edchat One attribute they typically have is lack of fear. What they don’t know doesn’t get in their way.
@aaronmueller:  Digital Native is a misnomer. Should be Digital Nomads! Fearless, but without direction. Need guidance to form Digital Wisdom #edchat
@21stprincipal: Perhaps the term “digital native” is a stereotype. #edchat
@Dave_Parkes: #edchat I find students are really skilled at social tech but struggle with tech as a learning tool #edchat
@raffelsol: I think a digital native may adapt quicker to technology, but they don’t necessarily know how to use it effectively w/o help #edchat
@aaronmueller: Digital Wisdom – what we need to teach our students How to choose the best tech, how to avoid pitfalls, how to reflect on usage #edchat
@twoodwar: We can’t possibly keep up with them. They are _natives_. Best to give up now. #edtech #edchat
@davidwees: Use different words for digitally native/immigrant. Let’s say ‘persistent’ and ‘easily frustrated’. #edchat
@padgets: #edchat so I think we need to look at a digital citizenship unit at the beginning of the school year, cover all these bases
@dylanbergeron:  I’m a senior in high school. and yes, i believe that all my peers are ready to learn with technology #edchat
@josiefraser: A digital native is an ill-advised & unhelpful metaphor http://j.mp/edK3Y3 #edchat
@21stprincipal: Better question for engaging students-What is it kids do with tech that is so engaging? #edchat
@raffelsol: We never talk about pencil fluency or white board fluency. It is part of our toolbag. When will knowledge at our fingertips be that? #edchat
@tomwhitby: If Tech skills are the new Media Literacy, Teachers have an obligation to teach them. In order to teach them, they must use them.#Edchat
@dylanbergeron: #edchat look at me right now. i’m doing xtra credit 4 math by tweeting about DN’s on the laptop issued by my schl
@dylanbergeron: #edchat paper is becoming a thing of the past. Critical thinking has to progress alongside our level of tech
@stumpteacher: A good teacher is a good teacher…regardless if they are DN or DI #edchat
@malcolmbellamy: it is about using appropriate tools for a job and mastering the skills of how to use these tools effectively #edchat
@aaronmueller: Digital Natives have the most important quality “Be Not Afraid” something I teach my peers every workshop #edchat
@malcolmbellamy: it is about using appropriate tools for a job and mastering the skills of how to use these tools effectively #edchat
@ShellTerrell: Love that we have students involved in this conversation! Thanks @mrsblanchetnet class for joining us! #edchat
@tomwhitby: While we wait for tchrs to get comfortable w/Tech, we have students who are uncomfortable w/o the Skills needed to compete & Learn #Edcha
@stumpteacher: At the end of the day, toss out the labels and teach each kid on their technological, intellectual, and emotional level. #edchat
@tomwhitby: We should always remember, unless we are tech teachers, we don’t teach Tech. As Tchrs, we use tech to teach and learn.#Edchat

To follow the complete discussion see here 

For the stats on #edchat participation see here 

As ever, there were some great links shared:

capohanka:  I prefer resident and visitor a la @shareski http://bit.ly/fb7IQO  #edchat

blairteach:  If we use “digital native” to indicate a generational segment, look at Schrock’s Digital Pioneer term: http://youtu.be/8UZI6zO77k8 #edchat

willedmond:  A cool idea you can do with your students. 10 Tips for Starting a Virtual Social Change Book Club #EdChat http://bit.ly/hk0sm2

HHG:  This is a digital native – it’s how she thinks… http://flic.kr/p/5XviEq  #edchat

josiefraser: A digital native is a ill advised & unhelpful metaphor http://j.mp/edK3Y3  #edchat – got that right!

reyjunco:  Research on variability in “digital natives'” Internet skills : http://goo.gl/z4p29  and variability in access: http://goo.gl/G8ynp  #edchat

ktenkely: For those who don’t know where digital native originated pdf of Marc Prensky’s article 2001 http://bit.ly/e8vbdS  #edchat

aaronmueller:  Digital Wisdom – article by Marc Prensky ERIC Record: EJ834284 http://t.co/XV5wTnH  #edchat GREAT READ!

cybraryman1: My Digital Citizenship page: http://bit.ly/5fDZ4f  #edchat

stumpteacher:  Little background on DN from wikipedia http://bit.ly/9JFVF #edchat

cybraryman1:  My Digital Footprints page: http://bit.ly/dd9IA9 Parents & Teachers should teach DF to children

reyjunco:  Our research on how using Twitter in educationally-relevant ways affects engagement and grades: http://goo.gl/XtbVz  #edchat

tjowens:  “Once you care about a world you will do all kinds of things that look like work, or homework.” http://bit.ly/ieZGHk

cybraryman1:   Teachers need to shown how to integrate technology in their subject areas: http://bit.ly/9AB2tS

HP Teacher Exchange :  great resource for educators – lesson plans and more – http://goo.gl/zZkvG

dughall: #edchat Young people may exceed the technical *knowledge* of some educators, adults though, have (cont) http://tl.gd/7g9mps

prlowe91:  Cell Phones in the Classroom: Learning Tools for the 21st Century: http://youtu.be/aXt_de2-HBE

cybraryman1:  Show students there are many ways to do something using tech. For example the modern book report: http://bit.ly/a30UtS

daveandcori: 100 Best YouTube Videos for Teachers http://goo.gl/fb/dnU89

stumpteacher:  @cybraryman1 Good post on the book reports… here is mine… http://bit.ly/fqvjXQ

weisburghm:  I love how http://www.youthrightsmedia.org/about/  teaches students to have a voice using media

blairteach:  Here’s a syllabus from a tchr-prep tech integration course at UGA. What do you think? http://bit.ly/gOheHI

weisburghm:  good rubric on student twitter use: http://www2.uwstout.edu/content/profdev/rubrics/Twitter_Rubric.html

neilstephenson:  I agree with @AngelaMaiers post on students as “digital natives” #edchat http://bit.ly/f7IXEo

MZimmer557:  10 Tips for Using Facebook in the Classroom http://goo.gl/7mt8N  #edchat #edtech

stumpteacher:  Share this link with anyone you think is a DI or a less than confident DN: http://bit.ly/ie8fiJ

cybraryman1:  Get ready for more Blended Learning: http://bit.ly/dybHNO and 1:1 Schools: http://bit.ly/aqoeks

2footgiraffe:  share your take home ideas from todays #edchat http://bit.ly/gBYB2

web20education:  #edtech20 #edchat New Pan-EU Youth is a platform targeted at young people between the age of 14 and 18 where they… http://fb.me/Qn04vyw8

cybraryman1:  @gellesastar For example of how I learned something: http://bit.ly/gu48ap  See the list on that page #edchat

prlowe91:  With all the discussion about teachers and learning, let’s listen to the learners: http://youtu.be/9M4tdMsg3ts

kenroyal:  New Reality Show: Tech Your Class http://tinyurl.com/bxxoot  #education #educators #edchat #technology

cybraryman1:  Have a student run a Smackdown (sharing of tools & sites): http://bit.ly/f29Lpx

GlogsterEDU:  Here’s one of our favorites from #YouTube of 2010: http://bit.ly/dyEhaa  Anyone else have favorites to share? #edchat #edtech #edu #smcedu

web20education:  In 2011 we will begin new semantic web 3.0 and .After twitter my favorite tool global sharing http://tinyurl.com/pearltreesedtech20

davidwees:  Where education reform is heading: From extreme to extremum http://is.gd/iKaZm

Tinashe Blanchet (@mrsblanchetnet) is the Professional Development Resource Teacher at John Ehret High School in Marrero, Louisiana.  She lives in the Greater New Orleans area with her husband, David, and 3 young children. Certified in Secondary Mathematics Education, she currently teaches a remediation course for the state math exam, Advanced Math/ Pre-Calculus and AP Calculus.  She also holds a master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of New Orleans.  She loves learning about how to enhance her practice with tech tools, as she maintains a “Model Technology Classroom” for her district.  Please visit her online at http://mrsblanchet.net or http://blanchetblog.net to find out more!

New to Edchat?

If you have never participated in an #Edchat discussion, these take place twice a day every Tuesday on Twitter. Over 1,000 educators participate in this discussion by just adding #edchat to their tweets. For tips on participating in the discussion, please check out these posts!

More Edchat


If you’re new to hashtag discussions, then just show up on Twitter on any Tuesday and add just a few tweets on the topic with the hashtag #edchat. 

What do you think? Leave a comment!



  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Matthias Heil and Todd A. Hoffman. Todd A. Hoffman said: blogpost @rliberni Digital Native: Truth or Fiction?: #Edchat 12-14–2010 – 18:00 CET 12 PM EST We are v… http://bit.ly/gxNOIp #edchat […]

    Pingback by Tweets that mention via Digital Native: Truth or Fiction? #beltfree -- Topsy.com — December 29, 2010 @ 4:22 pm | Reply

  2. Here is a roundup of criticisms and research of the idea of digital natives / digital immigrants. Research shows that generational differences are not as good as other differences (like poverty and so forth) at explaining differences in technological proficiency:


    Comment by edtechdev — December 29, 2010 @ 6:23 pm | Reply

    • Thank you for the link Doug. I’m sure many will be interested in following up this theme further.

      Comment by rliberni — December 29, 2010 @ 7:06 pm | Reply

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