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The "Digital Native" as moral panic

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jonmoss79
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« on: August 28, 2008, 11:17:49 AM »

A recent article in BJET examines the issues around the concept of the "Digital Native". The article examines the evidence around this concept and finds that ther is no evidence that this classification can be used for young people and that the push for educational change to ecompass this concept is based upon a "Moral Panic".
For me this article misses the point about educational change, the push to incorporate constructivist ideas is not based upon new technologies and their acceptance by the new generation but that the education system is fundamentally flawed in that it is a machine to produce students with qualifications, essentially failing those who do not/cannot engage with the system. Technology gives us now the opportunity to promote this change in school, not because technology is used by students.

There is also a need for a disucssion around the language of "Digital Native" and its racial implications, will the use of this concept alienate through its implication.
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stu_mob
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« Reply #1 on: September 01, 2008, 09:37:49 AM »

Hi Jon

Been involved in a lot discussions (mainly on this forum it has to be said) about the whole Digital Native concept and I wrote my views in depth here http://www.3sheep.co.uk/2007/11/07/mythmaking-digital-natives-and-immigrants-do-they-really-exist/. From my perspective I see the concept as a bit of a red herring and I think its more useful to look at Digital Technology from a lifestyle enhancement perspective. So for example - if it meets a needs we adopt it, the article explains my views in depth.

Broadly speaking I think it risks creating barriers that don't exist. There are lots of people I know who are older who use technology seamlessly and I've met enough young people to get a sense of 'gadget fatigue' from them.

The problem with 'Digital Natives and Immigrants' is it has become a tabloid-esque headline grabber and polarises into two camps what is actually quite a complex social situation with lots of grey areas.
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jonmoss79
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« Reply #2 on: September 01, 2008, 09:44:47 AM »

I agree with the idea that creating a "Digital Native/Immigrant" concept is misleading and possibly damaging to the whole learning paradigm shift that is happening. The issue I had with this paper was that it suggest that this concept is pushing the paradigm change rather than technology providing a means for this change to happen.

I also have a problem with the teminology which needs to be examined in terms of its racial implications.
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Graham
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« Reply #3 on: September 01, 2008, 12:28:08 PM »

Yes there was also some discussion on this forum:
/component/option,com_smf/Itemid,58/topic,1140.0

But not I think in the direction that Jon is hoping to travel with this thread.

I'm going to ponder more about the racial implications of the "digital native" concept because I'm not entirely certain about how you are applying it. Can you elaborate a little more Jon? What racial implications are you alluding to?


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stu_mob
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« Reply #4 on: September 01, 2008, 04:26:03 PM »

I am curious about the racial comment too. Jon anywhere the BJET article is in the public domain?
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MAMK
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« Reply #5 on: September 01, 2008, 04:42:02 PM »

One can extrapolate similar arguments with the "Digital Divide" debate. The question to ask is how does one define the Digital Native / Digital Immigrant?  We are all "natives" and "immigrants" depending on context and perspective.  Just as there is always going to be "haves" and "have-nots" in the Digital Divide debate.   

With regards to being a digital native I believe the commonly accepted usage (at least among most academics) refers to those who were "born" into a certain environment in which "digital" technology usage is part and parcel of a persons upbringing and culture.
Maybe the expression "digital-native" could be tinged with racial references, but somehow I do not think this was the intention.  Again, I did not read the article you are referring to, so I am not speaking with authority here.

What word (expression) could we use instead of "digital-native"?

Digitally raised  vs. Digitally adopted  ?

BTW, Who put the "M" in Manchester?
« Last Edit: September 01, 2008, 04:45:32 PM by MAMK » Logged

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Coordinates: www.mamk.net/mamk.htm
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jonmoss79
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« Reply #6 on: September 05, 2008, 10:50:23 AM »

My reasoning for considering the racial implications around the concepts of "Digital Native" and "Digital Immigrant", arose from a presentation from Kelly King from the IATEFL conference in Exeter, here is the abstract..

The application of critical race theories to English language teaching
Kelly King (Akita International University, Japan)
Does race matter? Although critical race theory (CRT) and critical whiteness studies (CWS) have had little impact in ELT, the speaker contends that CRT and CWS should in particular inform the ELT pedagogies and practices of white teachers. Key principles of CRT and CWS and their applications to English language teaching will be discussed.


Being and international conference the audience consisted of many global opinions and the issues raised concerning issues around "White Supremacy" proved to be a heated debate, specifically the use of language and technology to emphasize global White Supremacy, i.e. our western morals and ideals are imposed upon not western countries through the use of language and technology; this was examined in the presentation through the need to have "Native Teachers" and the implications around this.

Here "Digital Native" could have a "whiteness" implication around it, perhaps linked to the concept of the "Native Teacher". Being an "Digital Immigrant" perhaps implies that to achieve the "Native" position is linked to the "Non-native teacher" to the "native teacher", a move from non-white concepts, morals and ideals to "white" ideals as expressed through the theories of Critical Race Theory and Critical White Studies?

I am just starting to think around this issue!

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Michael Wilkinson
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« Reply #7 on: September 20, 2008, 10:49:22 AM »

I have discussed the concept of digital native on this forum for some time (valid...it's been a while since I've been here!)

The terms digital native and digital immigrant in my opinion are not to pigeon whole but rather provide a means of understanding of 21st Century learners. The young of today are constantly surrounded by digital technologies; facilitating leisure, communication, learning, indeed ever facet of their lives. This differs from the landscape which we grew up in. The terms help us to understand that we need to make changes in the schooling system to ensure learners dont 'power-down' when they enter the classroom, bound by methodologies which predate the prominence of such digital technologies. They are at one with technology and we need to embrace them exploiting their potential for learning and teaching.
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