The myths of the digital native and the multitasker (Kirschner & Bruyckere 2017)
In the week 2 readings, Kirschner and Bruyckere raise concerns and arguments surrounding the viability of the term ‘digital native’, a key aspect in how digitally literate people are perceived to be. Their argument against the term ‘digital native’ aids us in understanding to become digitally literate and the bounds of those who can.
‘Digital native’ is a term coined by scholar Prensky (Prensky 2001) that is used to describe those born in the ‘digital age’, “who have been immersed in digital technologies all their lives” (Prensky 2001). The assumption is that digital natives “have sophisticated technical digital skills and learning preferences for which traditional education is unprepared and unfit” (Prensky 2001), hence Prensky’s belief that the educational system must adapt and develop new pedagogies which correctly cater to the ‘digital native’. This assumption derives from a rationalisation of phenomena and behaviours which Prensky observed, his research was neither an extensive or careful study of the generation and their behaviours. (Kirschner & Bruyckere 2017).
Kirschner and Bruyckere’s continuously reinforce their argument against the existence of ‘digital natives’ with scientific evidence, “researchers found that university students, born after 1984, do not have deep knowledge of technology, and what knowledge they do have is often limited to the possibilities and use of basic office suite skills, emailing, text messaging…” etc. (Bullen et al., 2008, Ebner et al., 2008, Kennedy et al., 2007, Kvavik, 2005 in Kirschner & Bruyckere 2017). Although convincing, some of the evidence presented lacks in providing enough background to make a definitive conclusion, “A study carried out by Romero, Guitert, Sangrà, and Bullen (2013) found that it was, in fact, older students (>30 years and thus born before 1984) who exhibited the characteristics attributed to digital natives more than their younger counterparts” (Kirschner & Bruyckere 2017), does not specify degree these students were studying, their skills may have been learnt through a digital and technologically based degree, meaning they are ‘digital immigrants’ (Prensky 2001).
Kirschner & Bruyckere argument attempts to deny the term ‘digital native’ believing that those born in the digital era do not process the dimensions of digital literacy more coherently than the ‘digital immigrant’. Without further research into proving the ‘digital native’, the educational sector cannot adapt current pedagogies. “Twenty-first century education not only allows, but actually requires, seamless and ambient integration of technologies in physical environments in the sense of Weiser’s (1991) notion of ubiquitous computing” (Kirschner & Bruyckere 2017), Kirschner and Bruyckere believe educational pedagogies already facilitate the dimensions of digital literacy, social-emotional, technical and cognitive.
- Kirschner, P. A. & De Bruyckere, P. (2017): “The myths of the digital native and the multitasker”, Teaching and Teacher Education, v67, 135-142
- M. Prensky 2001, Digital natives digital immigrants, On the Horizon NCB University Press, 9 (5) (2001), pp. 1-6
M. Weiser 1991, The computer for the 21st century, Scientific American, 265 (3) (1991), pp. 94-104
M. Romero, M. Guitert, A. Sangrà, M. Bullen 2013, Do UOC students fit in the Net Generation profile? An approach to their habits in ICT use, The International Review of Research in Open and Distance Learning, 14 (3) (2013), pp. 158-181