Module 2 (Part B): Digital Natives Vs Digital Immigrants

Technology and our students:

Are you what is known as a digital native or immigrant?

Prensky (2001) defines digital natives as the generation born into the digital age. He argues that digital natives think and process information differently at a fundamental level, possessing hypertext minds and demands an educational response to address this shift. More specifically, digital natives are those born after 1980 who are fluent in the digital language of computers. By this definition, I am a digital native yet I can identify with digital immigrant characteristics; “connected but hassled” (Kennedy, Judd, Dalgarnot, & Waycott, 2010, p. 334). What this tells me is that a blanket definition to characterise young people does not account for varying types of literacies or consider the demographic impact on students’ digital knowledge. Critics of the debate have argued that the digital native/immigrant debate is merely a generalisation that appeals to common-sense beliefs and fails to recognise cognitive differences (Bennett, Maton, & Kervin, 2008). I think I fall into the category of ‘digital enthusiast’ who is enabled by a socio-cultural environment. However, Prensky’s arguments about teaching digital natives do contain some interesting points which are useful for the next question.


I couldn’t resist. Very digital native of me.

As a teacher, how might you deal with the variety of attitudes and experiences of technology in your classroom?

Dealing with diverse attitudes and experiences should come down to pedagogical practice and having the ability to scaffold learning towards a variety of technological needs. This is a fundamental skill. As a future teacher, incorporating Prensky’s vision for bottom-up learning (2012) that starts with the students and getting to know individual student needs would be a good strategy. Prensky’s arguments about putting the student in pursuit of the knowledge, referring to them as researchers and explicitly teaching information literacy are all key points I hope to utilise when dealing with student technological diversity (2011).


Bennett, S., Maton, K., & Kervin, L. (2008). The ‘digital natives’ debate: A critical review of the evidence. British Journal of Educational Technology, 39(5), 775-786.

Kennedy, G., Judd, T., Dalgarnot, B., & Waycott, J. (2010). Beyond natives and immigrants: exploring types of net generation students. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 26, 332-343.

Prenksy, M. (2012). From digital natives to digital wisdom: Hopeful essays for 21st-century education. California: Corwin.

Prensky, M. (2001). Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants. On the Horizon, 9(5), 1-6.

Prensky, M. (2011). Teaching Digital Natives Moving To The Future. Retrieved from YouTube:


3 thoughts on “Module 2 (Part B): Digital Natives Vs Digital Immigrants

  1. I also found the native and immigrant descriptions interesting.
    I like and agree with your final paragraph about getting to know students individual needs. I think this is critical to being a good teacher.
    I’m jealous of your nice formatting, good job, Im still trying to put a picture on my page.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I agree with your critique on the blanket approach in the digital native’s discussion. Prior to reading your post I was more optimistic in Prenky’s thoughts. However, stereotyping all students blindly into a category based on era is dangerous as it ignores both internal/external factors. For example the socio economics, location, finances etc. (external) and thought processing, preferred learning styles etc. (internal) can all be different in students. The Melbourne Declaration (p. 7) addresses internal and external factors of students by stating that Australian schools have a responsibility to cater and fulfil diverse capabilities and that disadvantage is significantly reduced. Clearly our attitudes and assumptions towards technology can have a dramatic impact on student learning. If attitudes were to violate equity and differentiating, teachers would be going against the educational goals in the Melbourne Declaration.

    Btw Angela I love the meme. I am hoping to become and English and Humanities teacher and using a meme generator in the classroom would be a fantastic idea! Thank you


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