Digital natives are individuals who were born during or after the surge of digital technologies (the internet, mobile devices etc.). Because the majority have been surrounded by tech from an early age, they are used to it and are usually very good at it. In addition, because technology changes so quickly, they have adapted to it and are not scared of new innovation; in fact most get very excited about it.
What challenges arise from this?
The majority of educators are NOT digital natives and quite often technology can cause anxiety and fear because of its rapid development and increasing encroachment on our lives. Digital natives, who have never experienced life without tech, are the ones we are teaching it to! To put it simply, our students are often better at learning about new technologies than we are. Click here to view my article about technophobia amongst teachers.
What strategies can we use to support digital natives?
- Thoroughly explore new technology and get to grips with how to use it before a lesson or unit.
- Learn from the digital natives! Use their strengths and foster a collaborative class who all learn together.
- Set students open-ended challenges so they can direct their own learning and push themselves.
- Use the experts! Talk to colleagues in your school, use YouTube tutorials, join an educational technology focused personal learning network (Facebook or Twitter have many useful groups or chats).
- Be honest. Don’t be afraid to tell your students that you are learning too – they really appreciate this.
How do you support and engage digital natives? Let me know by commenting below.