21st Century Learners

Hello All

Since the turn of the millienum, our learners have developed a whole new learning style which we as learning managers need to adapt to in order to teach our students. They have grown up in the digital age where we rely on mobile phones, internet, digital cameras, video games and music players in order to recieve information,commuicate; basically to survive in today's society.

Prensky (2001) has categorised learners as:

  • Digital natives: born into and grown up with digital technology and therefore have the specific language and syntax around technology.
  • Digital Immigrants: born prior to the digital age and therefore are forced to adapt to the digital world.

"Digital Immigrant instructors who speak on an outdated language (that of pre-digital age) are struggling to teach a population that speaks an entirely new language." -Marc Prensky-

Prensky's native Vs Immigrant generalisation is agreeable. Since the turn of the millienum we have been bombarded with the introduction of new technologies which are being updated all the time. Technologies such as the internet with the introduction of facebook, myspace, twitter, youtube and MSN; web cameras, digital cameras, mobile phones, blackberries, video games; the transition from VCRs to DVDs and Casettes to CDs and MP3s. I would agree that learners born after the turn of the millenium would be classed as digital natives as they are growing up with this technology; however for myself I grew up in the 90s where I listened to cassettes on my tape player and walkman and watched videos on VCR. When I reached my teenage years was when the new digital technology came in; I needed to be able to use the internet in order to complete learning tasks, videos and casettes were no longer being made so I needed to get a stereo system where I could play both cassettes and cds to listen to my music. At 16 I got a digital camera to replace my old one which bought film and took it to the shop to get developed. At 17 I got my own mobile phone; 18 an MP3 player and discovered the use of USBs and memory sticks which I needed for uni studies.

Now I am only 20 but I dont know whether Prensky would class me as a digital native or immigrant as to my more mature peers; but I do consider myself to have a pretty good knowledge of todays technology but who knows what technology will be invented by the time I graduate and begin my first year of teaching.


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