“as education professionals, we are always behind the curve”
Matthew Nehrling wrote this in his blog post Who are the post-millennials?, where he raises the question of how are teachers going to deal with children born after the mid 90s who are even more soaked in technology than the so called ‘millenials’. More to the point, he also asks how are teachers going to cope with the children of millenials.
All this talk of millennials, digital natives etc. has had me thinking recently. Educators, as Matthew stated, *are* behind the curve. They are typically trained by an older generation, whose comfort zone in learning came from an even older generation. This probably didn’t matter much when technology played little part in day-to-day life, and when the Internet had no influence on learning and access to knowledge, because the tools of the trade – books, pens, pencils – were largely unchanged in decades (centuries?), and teaching from books was equally (in?)effective for everybody.
There are certainly many teachers out there who ‘get’ technology and who are able to harness it to enhance the learning experience for their students of all ages. However my experience as a mature student and as ‘technology advisor’ to several teachers has been that most teachers, especially those teaching children, have little, if any, grasp of technology. They themselves are not even ‘with it’ enough to qualify as “digital immigrants”.
Over the next few years, millennials will become teachers, and let’s face it, regardless of the hype, children who are comfortable and skilled with technology are in the minority, if for no other reason than this is true of their parents. There most certainly are millions of computer geeks out there who have children who they are encouraging in their own geeky footsteps, but I suggest that the non-geeky, computer-shy, computer-illiterate, computer-indifferent parents are in the majority, and thus the majority of millennials are somewhat computer-ignorant too and thus at best would qualify as Digital Immigrants themselves.
And I’m pretty sure that will be true of millennials as they become teachers.
I think it will be another couple of generations before we will see technological ubiquity of the type suggested by Prensky’s Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants essay, by which time the geeks will have moved on to something unimagined, and the masses will just be getting to grips with Wikipedia.
OK I maybe paint a darker and less flattering picture of ‘the masses’ than people might like to see, but the truth is the masses are not, and won’t ever be, geeks. So they won’t ever be Digital Natives … at least, not while it’s still possible to be an immigrant or an alien.