Perhaps the least understood and less recognized concept among those who teach and deliver education today is the fact that our students have radically changed. Very High Discontinuity – The Arrival and Rapid Proliferation of Digital Technology in the Last Decades of the 20th Century
Today's students represent the first generations who are growing up with the new technology. The numbers are overwhelming: they play more than 10,000 hours of video games, talking over 10,000 hours on digital mobile phones; over 20,000 hours of watching TV (high percentage of MTV), sending over 200,000 e-mails and instant messaging and receiving; they saw over 500,000 ads – before all these kids leave the university. And maybe less than 5,000 hours of books
Thanks to the mere volume of this ubiquitous environment and interaction with it, today's students are basically thinking and working in a more forward-looking way. "Different types of experiences lead to different brain structures," says Dr. Bruce D. Berry of the Baylor Medical College
Today's students are digital natives. Computers, video games and the digital languages of the Internet are "native speakers".
So what does this mean for the rest? Those who were born not in the digital world but later came into our life, compared to Digital Immigrants. And as digital immigrants learn – as if every immigrant – some of them better than others – could adapt to their environment, we always keep the "accent", that is, our foot in the past. The "Digital Immigrant Accent" looks like things like turning to the Internet, secondly, instead of the information; when reading the program manual, not assuming the program itself teaches us; e-mails (or our secretary prints us – a still "thicker" accent); or never change the original ring of our mobile phone. Those who are digital immigrants can laugh and laugh at themselves and their "accent".
But this is not just a joke. It is very serious, as the only major problem in education today is that digital immigrant teachers who speak an obsolete language (pre-digital age) are struggling to teach a people who speak a completely new language.
Digital natives can be accepted very quickly. They like a parallel process and more tasks. They prefer their graphics instead of the text than the opposite. They prefer random access (like hypermarket). They mostly work when they are networking. Quickly reassuring and rewarding rewards.
Digital migrant trainers typically receive very little recognition for the new skills the natives have gained and improved over the years of interaction and practice. These skills are almost completely alien to immigrants who learn – and decide to teach – slowly, step by step, one thing at a time, individually, and above all seriously.
Digital immigrant teachers typically make the students the same as ever and the same methods they worked for teachers when they were students are now working for their students. But this assumption is no longer valid. Today's students are different.
Seniors in the classroom grew up in video games and MTV's "twisting speed". Hypertext, downloaded music, phones on the pocket, laptops, inbound messages, and instant messaging directory are used. They have already linked their whole or all of their lives. They have little patience for lectures, step-by-step logic and tell-test instructions.
Digital natives can not pay attention or decide not to? Often, from the point of view of natives, their digital immigrant teachers do not deserve attention as much as anything else they experience – "Every time I go to school I have to strengthen myself" – a student complains – and blame them for not listening! And more and more digital natives are not lost.
So what's going to happen? Should digital students have to learn the old methods, or do digital immigrant educators learn the novelty? Unfortunately, no matter how much immigrants want, it is very likely that digital natives will return. First of all, it is impossible – their brains may be different. And what knows everything about cultural migration. Children born to a new culture can easily learn the new language and strongly resist their old use. Intelligent adult immigrants accept that they can not afford their new world and take advantage of their children to help them learn and integrate. Not very smart (or not flexible) immigrants spend most of their time doing what's good in the "old country".
So if we do not want to forget the teaching of digital natives until they grow up and do themselves, digital immigrants have been better faced with this issue. It's time to stop the buzz, and as the Nike motto of the Digital Native Generation says, "Just do it!" If you do not know how, just look at the kids!