EDTECH597 – Examining Generational Differences

This blog post is a prompt from a professor’s blog which can be found HERE

We were asked to read and analyze the idea of digital native at the beginning of our course (Prensky, 2001; McKenzie, 2007; and Reeves, 2008). These readings gave insight into the idea of a student in the current educational system who is somehow a different learner because of technology is not founded on research.

Based on the information above, the following prompt assigned to us:

“As educational technologists, what did you take away from these generational differences readings? How would you handle a colleague who bought into the notion of digital natives?”

I see the term “digital native” as a misunderstanding of what students in this age really understand. Yes, students were born in a time where computers, cell phones, iPads, and other types of technology are readily viable. However, this does not mean that these students are savvy users of these technologies. In fact, I find the opposite to be true and the readings introduced early in the course discuss.

Students will always range on their knowledge base coming into a class. This is true for many subjects besides technology. The important thing to note as a teacher, is to make sure students understand the proper use of that technology. I find that my students know a lot about Justin Bieber for example from Twitter, but they had no idea that you could join a professional Twitter chat and learn about educational things. Students only know what they have seen friends do you what is popular at the time.

Facebook, can be used for more than vain “look at me” posts. Students can be taught to create cohesive, higher level thinking posts. The same is true for anything written via technology or on paper. There is still a level of teaching that is very important to implement among or “digital natives.”

If a colleague brought up the idea of digital natives I would express the above sentiments. Even though my students may know how to utilize a cell phone for games better than I do (because I am older), they may not know how to utilize that cell phone to become a great writer or speller.  Teachers still have a lot to offer their students in the digital age.

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16 Responses to EDTECH597 – Examining Generational Differences

  1. Jenni,
    You make a valid point. Just because people (learners) can use a device doesn’t mean they use it responsibly or to better themselves. It is not only if you use technology, but how well you use it.

    • jenniborg22 says:

      Exactly! Many teacher fall victim to this as well. They want to use technology in the classroom, but have never been instructed on its uses to impact the class.

  2. jaimepiatt says:

    I really like the examples you use. Using technology to teach skills that can be taught with or without technology teaches more than the one skill. Students also do not know how to use the devices in all it’s capacity and we have the ability to help them learn the ins and outs of the devices they are somewhat familiar with. I also think there is some problem solving skills that goes on with using technology as well.
    Jaime Piatt

  3. mkbnl says:

    Jenni, I find your observation interesting…

    “Yes, students were born in a time where computers, cell phones, iPads, and other types of technology are readily viable. However, this does not mean that these students are savvy users of these technologies. In fact, I find the opposite to be true and the readings introduced early in the course discuss.”

    Personally, I’ve found both ends of this spectrum – and often the results have been closely tied to socio-economic status.

  4. Jenni, I like your point about how we can’t just assume that because our student’s have had access to technology that they necessarily know how to use it. I think this is especially true about our student’s ability to see technology that they are used to as a tool for education. For example, many of my students use YouTube often, but many of them don’t realize the tutorials that are offered there. I have used YouTube regularly when I don’t understand how to do something on my computer, with my camera…etc. Showing students how to use technology to their educational advantage is greatly important.

    • jenniborg22 says:

      Cassidy, that’s a great point! Also, I have found that Twitter offers great resources that students do not know about beyond the social aspect of it. There is so much that can be offered through these sites!

  5. Jenni, I thought your post had some great points. Access to technology does not make someone particularly adept in using it well. You provided clear examples of this. I like how you highlighted the prior knowledge base that students bring into a class. This is true for all skills and technology
    is no exception. Your post depicts examples of how educators can improve educational technology use, in your opinion, how much of a role should technology play in education?

    • jenniborg22 says:

      Angela, I think that is a great question. In my experience I think technology should play a role in education as much as it will possibly increase the value of the students’ education.

  6. Jeremy Stevenson says:


    Looks like we are taking the same two classes this semester, I just commented on your posts in 505.

    As for this blog, sounds like you and I saw some similarities, just because the digital natives maybe more familiar with the tools that are out there, does not mean that they are using them wisely or in a manner that will help their education or benefit the lives of those they communicate with.

    I enjoyed your insights.


  7. Jenni,
    Great post! I totally agree. I think that since technology constantly changes, no one can really be considered a “native.” There is always more people can teach and learn. I also have to say, I do not necessarily believe that knowing how to use technology well has anything to do with one’s socioeconomic status, especially in children. Kids always have friends who have electronics. Even if they, themselves, don’t own any, they have definitely been exposed to it one way or another.

    Good thoughts!

  8. bethtransue says:

    Great point about how students may know how to use technology in their personal and social life. But that does not seem to readily translate into using the same technology for educational uses. I see this daily in college life. Another thing I notice is that students have a very shallow understanding of the technology that they use heavily. I’ve discovered that if they run into trouble with the technology — having to create a footer, but not on first page, in MSWor — they cannot figure out for how to do that.

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