I got 99 problems and my tech’s still one

I am a “digital nati-grant.”

At least I’d like to think so. Not quite “digital natives” like my students, but not exactly “digital immigrants” like my parents. I think I’m somewhere in between. It’s comfortable because I can move from one spectrum to the next with relative ease. And as an educator, it’s a GREAT position to be in.

Marc Prensky’s article Shaping Tech for the Classroom discusses the typical process of technology adoption in schools. It usually involves:

  1. Dabbling
  2. Doing old things in old ways
  3. Doing old things in new ways
  4. Doing new things in new ways

We started dabbling with technology in schools by having a computer here and there and/or using software created by teachers and other individuals; however, not much is happening. Prensky states that “[…] writing, creating, submitting, and sharing work digitally on the computer via email […] is in the category of doing old things (communicating and exchanging) in old ways (passing stuff around).” We’ve then come a long way by using simulations such as SimCity, Real Lives and School Tycoon to show demonstrations and have student involvement in manipulating whole virtual systems, but in reality it’s still doing old things in new ways. Finally, we’ve arrived at a place where change is needed in our kids’ 21st century lives – doing new things in new ways – an invention.

The changes that we need in the digital age are “[…] new curricula, new organisation, new architecture, new teaching, new student assessments, new parental connections, new administration procedures, and many other elements.” Marc suggests that the first step towards this direction is to consult the young. After all, they are the “digital immigrants.” They are far ahead in terms of taking advantage of the technology that is available. The second step is to combine what they know about technology and what we know and require about education.

If that’s the case, why not start with a digital discourse? It could start at one school in a smaller scale and expand. Students, teachers, parents, administrators, test creators and policy makers would be required to attend. As a “digital nati-grant” we’re in a good position to hear our student’s concerns and needs, and at the same time, we can provide evidence of our students’ achievements to convince administrators, test creators and policy makers to move forward with the prevailing educational landscape. It will be a monumental challenge for us to undertake, but we don’t have a choice. What do we have to lose? Our children’s future. . . ?




3 Replies to “I got 99 problems and my tech’s still one”

  1. Dear Kehri,
    Thanks to your post I know what “digital nati-grant” is. I’ve never heard the term before, but I identify with it too. I am not a “digital native”, but I am not a “digital immigrant” either. I was born in Ecuador in 1973 and I got to own my first computer my freshman year in college (1991). So things were a bit delayed in Ecuador; I would say about 10 years if you compare it to the US. I started learning WordPerfect and Microsoft Word and I remember learning quickly, which was very encouraging. Then, I majored in Video Production and Multimedia, which required rapidly learning new software and hardware. We needed to read manuals and tinker here and there to find out how things work. I go back to these memories because a few teachers to whom I’ve coached ( who consider themselves “digital immigrants”) have asked me why is learning a new tech tool easier for someone than for others. I don’t have a well-researched answer for that, but besides patience, curiosity, and persistence, I think it has to do with procedural memory. The kind of memory that helps you remember how to do things. As a musician, you also need procedural memory to remember how to play a song. (I perform very badly if I have to use declarative memory. I never remember names of people, books, movies, or phone numbers.) Creating video tutorials for teachers and students has been a lifesaver. I use Screenflow, but you may do the same with other screencast software listed here.
    Have a great week,
    Carolin E.

    1. Carolin, I must tell you a secret: I created “digital nati-grant.” Upon reading the definition of both terms, I just felt that I didn’t fit in either category. I’m a combination of both. I’m not as well versed on social platforms such as Snapchat or Twitter, but I at least acknowledge what they are, how they function, and how it can serve my purpose. Fueled by my own curiosity and desire to learn, it has proved to be beneficial; especially when embracing the potential of technology integration and the direction of education.

  2. Kehri,

    You coined a new term! Digital “nati-grant” has a nice ring to it.

    You bring up a great point about the need for a new way of serving 21st century students.

    A new INVENTION!

    As Mark says absolutely everything about the current way we educate students must change, including the architecture. I mean the typical classroom barely lends itself to collaboration or creativity. That needs to change. I agree that it seems pointless developing new schools and programs without consulting the digital natives themselves. They will likely have a better and more interesting way of looking at the education system than the digital immigrants, or even dare I say it, the digital “nati-grants”.

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