Digital native or digital immigrant?

by Viv on August 6, 2007

Prensky’s metaphor of people being digital natives (intuitively understanding how recent technology works) or digital immigrants (needing support/ training in order to grasp new technology) seems wonderfully rich to me. Here’s an example from recent life.

The other day we were visiting one of my wife’s godsons who was proudly showing off his Wii. We had a go at the tennis game.
There was a beautiful moment where the ball was coming to her backhand, where Sarah ran around to take the ball on her forehand. As the Wii was blissfully unaware of her fancy footwork, the ball went blazing into the crowd at an acute angle.
As a self-confessed digital immigrant, Sarah’s understanding of how the Wii works meant that she made that false assumption.

In professional services we have a generation of younger learners coming through who will not take the same pride in being able to read, recall and find the relevance of densely written legalese. As the people providing them with learning, we need to challenge our assumptions about how learners use technology – which methods need updating and which are constantly effective. It’s only by looking at emergent technologies and how early adopters are actually using them, that we will get the full picture.

And for the sake of balance, now’s the time to confess that later that weekend I was clueless when it came to fixing a car.

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: