Strengths and Weaknesses of Digital Natives

Strengths and Weaknesses of Digital Natives

Aug 29, 2012

DIGITAL NATIVES CAN LEARN A THING OR TWO... OR THREE: We're excited in to see Scientific American flexing its graymatter muscle in the edtech space (perhaps a ploy to bring Betsy back to the fold?!) In this blog post exploring the perceptions of digital natives, Ms. Jody Passanisi and Ms. Shara Peters rail against the notion that children born into today's era of innovation can "master the operation of anything with an 'on' button."

The revelation is not new -- we first brought up 'digital naivety' in a June newsletter -- but it's hard to know if anyone is actually listening. As the two teachers (and constructivism evangelists) point out from their experiences, digital natives may have superior knowledge of what's in the app store yet fail when faced with a complicated search engine query -- a paradoxical use case for the pain point in education technology.

The solution appears to require collaboration between educators and developers (yup, we're all adults here; students will be students). Ms. Passanisi and Ms. Peters have learned the hard way that their 8th graders' technological "proficiency is often predicated by the amount of patience and determination required to complete a given task."

Edtech product developers should note that this statement has user experience design written all over it! If the same 8th graders have mastered elegant shoot 'em up titles, it's difficult to conclude that they don't have "patience and determination" on complex tasks.

And speaking of tasks, educators need to revisit constantly what type of tasks best suit the needs and interests of students. Yes, standards and standardized tests constrain such tasks, but here's a tip: Consult this chart for your next tech-based learning activity. If students are freaking out, they likely lack the skills for the tasks.

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