The phrase was coined by Mark Prensky in 2005 to differentiate between those who have grown up with technology (the digital natives), and those who have adopted it (the digital immigrants). A good way of telling the difference is that digital natives will rarely use the word "digital". They will for example buy a new camera. We (the immigrants) will buy a new digital camera - because we know there used to be another kind.
It is a concept being used a lot in discussions about education and how different types of people learn, and whether the types of instruction we use are appropriate for this new generation. Does it matter for instance that most teachers are digital immigrants, and most schoolchildren and new students are digital natives. The differences in the two are summarised below (and I've lost the reference for this information, but will insert it later).
The differences between digital native learners and digital immigrant teachers.
|Digital Native Learners ||Digital Immigrant Teachers |
|Prefer receiving information quickly from multiple multimedia sources.||Prefer slow and controlled release of information from limited sources.|
|Prefer parallel processing and multitasking.||Prefer singular processing and single or limited tasking.|
|Prefer processing pictures, sounds and video before text.||Prefer to provide text before pictures, sounds and video.|
|Prefer random access to hyperlinked multimedia information.||Prefer to provide information linearly, logically and sequentially.|
|Prefer to interact/network simultaneously with many others.||Prefer students to work independently rather than network and interact.|
|Prefer to learn “just-in-time.”||Prefer to teach “just-in-case” (it’s on the exam).|
|Prefer instant gratification and instant rewards.||Prefer deferred gratification and deferred rewards.|
|Prefer learning that is relevant, instantly useful and fun.||Prefer to teach to the curriculum guide and standardized tests.|
Something we need to bear in mind when designing learning spaces and educational technology?