Digital Age Learners


These are terms we hear a lot today. Schools have changed over the years as a process of society. Society has evolved from an industrial to a knowledge based economy. This has taken place because of the advent of communication technologies and mobile technologies. Just walk from your car to the mall, if you even go to the mall anymore, and look around. What do you see? Technology. As users, we solve problems everyday using this technology. You are standing in an isle at the grocery store and use your cell phone to scan a QRcode to get more information about a product in order to make an informed purchasing decision.

When you enter your classroom, your students are familiar with this technology and many depend on it for information. Students are not born with technology skills. These skills only come with practice and determination to learn more. Today’s students are what we call digital natives or NetGeners. They are between the ages of 11-30 and have grown up in a hyperlinked or interconnected world.

It is believed that Digital Natives would like to have:
  • freedom of choice
  • customization
  • transparency
  • entertainment and play
  • collaboration
  • quick communication, and
  • the opportunity to be innovative or creative.

Granted, not all of your students will have access to technology at home, but the number who do seems to be high enough to set a dramatic tone.

Anyone after the age of 30 is considered a digital immigrant. Those who grew up with before the technology boom.

Your Turn

Both of these terms will impact you as a teacher and it is important for you to understand them more critically. Where are you on this continuum and what will you need to do to prepare yourself and your teaching
Begin your journey by exploring the digital native map created by PBS FrontLine. Once you are at the Web site, click on each of the icons in the picture and read the pages that follow.
Next, review the page created by students at the University of British Columbia about Digital Natives and Immigrants.

Questions to Consider

  • How do our students like to learn? How is this different from you?
  • What will this mean when you design your instruction?
  • What strategies and methods of instruction would be effective?
  • How does/could technology play a role in your classroom?

More Resources to Explore