Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Three Different Views of the Digital World and its Users

It's easy to use Pensky's definition of Natives vs. Immigrants when referring to technology exposure and experience in today's digital age; it is far more difficult to use these terms when looking to see who brings what to the table in terms of usable knowledge. Yes, digital natives bring access and knowledge or process; however, digital immigrants tend to bring depth and understanding of application.  When I think of these two terms I think of the negative connotations that could be associated with these labels and how misleading they can be.  The term digital natives could imply that these users of technology are savage or reckless in their use of the digital world.  Digital immigrant is not much better when we allow ourselves to compare the word "immigrant" as used in society in general.

Boyd's work examines these terms and calls out some points that may be overlooked when considering these terms and their application to groups of individuals both as producers and consumers of the digital world and what it offers.  I was particularly struck by the section concerning Barlow and his interpretation of these terms.  Barlow contends that most parents are terrified of their children because they were born into a digital world where technology is woven into their lives out of desire and necessity while parents are left to their own defenses to become technologically savvy or be left out.  If this is true, then adults should not fear those born into the digital age but understand that they were not also born with understanding that comes with experiences.  If adults are to fear anything it should be their own reluctance to learn how to connect their life experiences with the "natives" to bridge the gap and make learning a collaborative experience.

As a teacher in an urban city stricken by unimaginable poverty, another section that hit home was  the discussion about digital inequality.  Even in the digital world, not all digital natives are created equal. An example of this came out of our conversation in class when it was noted that school districts are giving students ChromeBooks to use at home where they do not have any access to the internet.  One of the points that Boyd brings to the surface is that more privileged youth have more authentic experiences and more opportunities outside of the classroom to develop digital competency.

Wesch makes a good point by noting that it is important to move beyond being knowledgable about something and actually using that knowledge and applying it to make it more meaningful on multiple levels.

Overall, I would likely state that although the terms "digital native" and "digital immigrant" offer a precursory description of two groups of people and how they are categorized in the digital age, I am not in agreement with these terms and how they are misleading in their generalizations of users of the digital world.  I think these two terms tend to segregate instead of integrate and provide opportunities for collaboration.  Maybe when these two things happen we will see a more meaningful use of the digital world and all it has to offer everyone.

I Am A Digital Immigrant

As defined by numerous definitions on the internet, I am a classic "digital immigrant" while my children would be considered "digital natives".  Although I am well versed in many programs, softwares and applications, I find it difficult to keep up with the speed of technology and its advances.  My children, ages 5 and 9, are far quicker and more efficient than I at adapting to the fast paced changes in the digital world; they are more likely than I to be considered a "digital native."

I am interested in following how the digital world will change children's use of technology.  As a mother myself, I am always concerned with keeping my children safe while not stifling their create nature or curiosity and using technology to help them understand their findings.  Similar concerns were voiced in a YouTube video that I viewed regarding children's safety in the digital age.  As a result, I looked for a video that provide parents with simple step ideas to manage their children's use of technology safely.

Some of these techniques are common sense which seems to go out the window when dealing with teenage children and the digital world, social media to be specific.  A more savvy approach may be needed when dealing with teens and internet safety as a new set of concerns arise dressed in sheep's clothing but known as "friends".

I also find it fascinating to see the difference in how children's brains appear to be mapped or wired somewhat differently than mine and those of folks who would be considered non-digital natives.

Monday, June 27, 2016

A Little Something About Me

My name is Katherine Bellows and I have been teaching for 10 years and am currently teaching at Ella Risk elementary school.  I started my TESL Master's program journey 3 years ago and hope to finish by year's end.  I have three children, ages 9, 5 and 19 months.  My husband and I are currently building a new home and look forward to its completion in December.