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While we frame digital natives as a generation “born digital,” not all youth are digital natives. Digital natives share a common global culture that is defined not by age, strictly, but by certain attributes and experiences in part defined by their experience growing up immersed in digital technology, and the impact of this upon how they interact with information technologies, information itself, one another, and other people and institutions. Those who were not "born digital" can be just as connected, if not more so, than their younger counterparts. And not everyone born since, say, 1982, happens to be a digital native. Part of the challenge of (modern) research is to understand the dynamics of who exactly is, and who is not, a digital native, and what that means.
(Harvard University 2010)
Dan Pontefract also has a problem with both the term digital native and how it has been manufactured into one of society’s greatest myths. He believes there is an improved way in which we should be articulating the use of technology in the learning continuum. In Dan's view Learning and technology has nothing to do with generational divides.
There are two main players in the propagation of the IT generational divide according to Dan Pontefract and those players are Marc Prensky andDon Tapscott.
According to Pontefract, in 2001, Prensky published a paper in the periodical On The Horizon entitled, “Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants“ (download digital natives digital immigrants part 2 pdf is available above) in which the first half of the article, Prensky paints the picture of Millennials (Digital Natives) as being hard-wired differently from birth with an automatic digitally enhanced learning style. As opposed to the non-Millennials, (Digital Immigrants) who are classified in Prensky's paper as luddites incapable of learning, teaching or living like a Digital Native.
Pontefract goes on to argue that the second half of Prensky's article suggests that the teaching profession needs to overhaul both its methodology and content if it is to survive, due to the lack of technical prowess of (the older) Digital Immigrants compromised by the new technically literate DNA of younger Digital Natives.
Pontefract then goes on to quote Don Tapscott, the author of "Growing Up Digital" as saying to the older generation:-
“Sure, you’re as cyber-sophisticated as the next person – you shop online, use Wikipedia, and do the BlackBerry prayer throughout the day; But young people have a natural affinity for technology that seems uncanny. They instinctively turn first to the net to communicate, understand, learn, find and do many things.”
Pontefract then responds to Tapscotts quote with
" The so-called Net Generation (as Tapscott describes them) may in fact be somewhat technology savvier than their GenX or Baby Boomer ancestors, but it doesn’t mean (that)
a) they actually prefer learning in an all-digital way or
b) older users aren’t using technology to augment their learning styles the same way in which Millennials are.
Sure, there may be a larger percentage of Millennials that tap into technology first compared to their elders, but oversimplifying the division of generations by suggesting one prefers an all-technology learning style (over the partial technology style of older generations) is preposterous".
For read more about Dan Pontefracts views about Prensky's theories about digital natives and following blog reader comments, go to http://www.danpontefract.com/?p=1300