Sunday, November 19, 2017

Digital natives? Not really

First of all, I am little bit disagree with the concept of digital natives proposed by Marc Pensky, where teenagers are in general seen as digital natives as they are "native speakers" of the "digital language". In Pensky's opinion, "digital language" is just like a language that changes the way students behave and even how their brains work. However, I believe that such analogy gives too much credit to technology and Pensky fails to see the crucial difference between the language and digital language. The major difference here that distinguishes language and digital language is that language is symbolic, organized and systematic representation. This fundamental trait has a lot to do with the higher psychological function of learners, while technology lacks. This makes technology only an amazing tool to build on that vital function, but not the one that builds the function. Therefore, I believe that both teenagers and those who have late access to technology are both immigrants, the only difference is the extent of exposure, internalization, and application of technology, which means I am also a digital immigrant!

As a learner, I was not frustrated at the time being, like when I was in high school because I was unaware of what technology could do or what technology really is. But in retrospect, I am now frustrated for the reason that the hardware of the technology was provided and presented in the classroom, but there was no actual utilization of it. Materials were taught in the most traditional way but only with the help of the technology. Therefore, I believe that the digital mindset, the mindset to organically integrate technology into teaching and not to use technology for using technology's sake, is equally important as the physical presence of the technology.


As a digital immigrant, there is a certain fear of not knowing how to use technology. But as technology is being more elaborately designed and made, the soundness of the application or the helpfulness of the tool is not the only criterion to make a good technology a good technology. The level of ease to use the technology is also another significant trait that a good digital tool should have, especially if the application is designed for a huge user group. So when I run into trouble and don't know how to use a new technology, I would try to figure it out myself, by which I mean with the instruction booklet or just Google it. If I still have trouble, I might approach people I know and see if they have the same issue or not. If they have some complaints about it, I would know that there are some design flaws so that I won't blame myself for not knowing how to use it. I think luckily, for now, most of the digital tools that I come across are super user-friendly, and I think this is the reason why it is so popular. In this sense and with all due respect, I think it is easy to catch up with the "popular" new technology and it might be a little bit more difficult to learn the "less popular" ones.

To sum up, in the video "Do digital natives exist?", the author believes that the digital natives does not exist by arguing how inappropriate wo use the generation line to distinguish natives and immigrants. Since I have different definiton of digitl natives, I cannot really agree or disagree with his idea. But this video makes me rethink who the digital natives in my definition are. I came to my conclusion that programmers or code writiers are more native to digital language from a linguistic standpoint, becasue they use literally the digital language that essential changes how they perceive and analyze the external world.  So from my perspective, it may sound a little bit weird, but digital natives are the minority of the digital citizens who use the digital language to construct the digital world.

1 comment:

  1. I also find it frustrating to use technology for technology's rather than an organic use. This is what I think can happen to a digital native...they want to use it for everything rather than for what it fits.

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