Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Digital Natives: Don't Assume Anything

It sounds like such a cool thing to be labeled, digital native. The term presumes some superior knowledge of one's "home." And, in my experience, it's always better to navigate a city with a native - they know the hot spots and the shortcuts and best deals in town! Having a native by your side in a new city brings a sense of security because there is an inherent reliance on their knowledge that someone you will benefit from.

There are some overlooked pitfalls in assigning all of these beliefs to students’ knowledge of technology. By overestimating a student’s digital native skills, critical teaching and learning opportunities are missed – or worse, not even considered by educators. Consider the mishap with MySpace Boyd mentions, as a parallel to what could be happening every day: students could be (and are) figuring things out independently - problem solving, taking risks, investigating, writing, etc… all valued and standards based pursuits but  perhaps unbeknownst to the educator in front of them. What would it look like if a teacher was able to capture this/these pockets of learning in the form of a valid assessment instrument for students?

I thought Boyd’s date on Wikipedia and students’ perception of it as a valid source of information was fascinating. With the push towards portfolio based graduation requirements for high school students – and the research paper component – there is constant buzz about “reliable sources” and review about how to critique sources as valid. She offers an interesting and very 2.0 perspective, the idea that Wikipedia may have more checks and balances for validity because it is a public forum and because there are people “assigned” to assess how information is evolved. It is entirely transparent. Isn’t that an interesting way for students to engage in gleaning information about content as well as process?

I think Wesch might think this would be a good replacement for the “information recall on multiple-choice exams” he suggests are easy for teachers to correct. His observations, aside from hilarious (because don’t students always say the funniest things! “I Facebook during most of class”) are an important factor in addressing the gap between the educational system catching up to what technology has to offer, especially in the 2.0 world.

Wesch’s observations about the state of infrastructure in schools do inhibit the potential “brick and mortal” classrooms offer. How can this be reconciled? Will the world of education always be galaxies away from the world of technology? How can we keep up to best serve our students and to help shape future generations of thinkers and thoughtful consumers and producers of technology?

I think it's irresponsible for educators to assume there is nothing to teach our students in regards to technology and HOW to navigate it. It is also neglectful to think we can rely on their native expertise to happen upon learning - by chance - and not with deliberately planned learning activities. 

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