Sunday, October 12, 2008

Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants, and Digital Pioneers

I have long bristled at being called a "digital immigrant". I know the difference between the understood explanation of the "digital natives" and "digital immigrants" as outlined by Marc Prensky.

I did not grow up with technology. It grew up with me, and I was there every step of the way. I think those of us who have been there since the beginning, and have adopted each technology as it came about, should not be called digital immigrants. I do not turn to the printed manual first. I always choose reputable Internet sites to locate information. And I do speak the correct language (and still do not accept Google as a verb!) There are very few technology skills that are foreign to me.

I want to be in a third category of technology users called "digital pioneers". This group of users grew up as technology grew up. This group of users has mastered both the skills (learned from years of technology risk-taking and experimentation) and the processes (learned from the real world and the online world) of information literacy and choosing the correct tool for the task.

These users are the technology mentors and evangelists in the education field and are very passionate about the topic. They are constantly looking for new and old technologies that will support teaching and learning in a meaningful way and they always share their findings with others. There will only ever be a finite group of technology pioneers since, by the definition of growing up as technology grew up, the digital pioneers would have to be 50 years old or older at this point.

Many so-called digital immigrants, teachers who came later to the technology arena, are doing a wonderful job infusing technology meaningfully into teaching and learning. These tech-savvy educators are teaching to the current generation of so-called digital natives in ways that support these students' varied learning styles.

But please call me a "digital pioneer".