digital natives debate

The Bennett and Prensky article both show the differences between the ‘digital natives’ and the ‘digital immigrants.’ The digital natives are those that were born roughly from 1980-1994. The digital immigrants are those that are born prior to 1980

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The main idea in the debate is that newer generation show a different way of learning, thinking and adapting compared to previous generations.  This has lead to the belief that traditional teaching methods need to change and adapt to the increase in technology.

Prensky (2001) believes that changes in technology have changed the way children learn and therefore changes need to be made in the way teachers teach.  He believes that students prefer games compared to real work, that they prefer graphics before text and constantly need to be working at a fast pace.  He names this generation “digital natives”, as in the generation that has grown up immersed in technology.  He refers to adults who were not born with technology but who have instead learnt the skills at a later time “digital immigrants”.  Children now learn differently from the older generations and therefore a total absorption of technology in the classroom will be needed.

The differences between the generations are leaving digital immigrants struggling to teach an entirely “new language” (Prensky, 2001) Prensky states that digital immigrants need to accept what they don’t know and perhaps learn from students. They may also need to communicate faster using a variety of methods as students (digital natives) think and process information differently.

The issue that ‘education must fundamentally change to accommodate the digital natives interests, talents and preferences therefore requires exploration.’ (Bennett et al, 2008) This requires questioning as to whether education is currently equipped to meet the needs of this “new cohort of students”

Which learning style/s does this ICT support?

Digital natives may be very visual learners often needing to view diagrams and pictures to fully understand a topic to the best of their ability. They learn best through video displays and flipcharts where the learning is very visual. Digital immigrants such as teachers may not have an understanding of digital technologies such as these and must therefore learn this new approach to teaching in order to teach to visual learners.

How could this ICT be implemented as a good cognitive tool within the learning environment?

 Digital natives may have a better understanding of technology than that of the digital immigrants. According to Bennett et al, 2008 that the digital immigrants that lack the technological fluency are in the bracket that mostly includes teachers. If the teacher can learn some of the skills that the student possesses they could use this ICT as a good cognitive tool within the learning environment.

 How is this ICT enabling the development of creativity?

. Students may have different skills in technology and they can be more creative in their areas of expertise. This is the same for teachers; they can learn what they don’t know from their students and be creative enough to create meaningful learning experiences that relate to the students themselves and their different learning styles.


  • Prensky, M. (2001). Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants. MCB University Press, 9(5), 1-6.
  • Bennett, S., Maton, K., & Kervin, L. (2008). A ‘Digital Natives’ Debate: A critical review of the evidence. British Journal of Education Technology 39(5), 775-786.

~ by sweetnina3 on March 14, 2011.

One Response to “digital natives debate”

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