Children (Digital Natives) + Technology = Learning Success.
I have to say that I vehemently disagree with this! I have found that school students are no better at using technology than people of my generation. Yes I know a three year old can use an iPad but that's because it was designed to be simple to use; a child's ability to use one does not mean they have any understanding; knowledge or skills that will enable future progression in the world of computing.
(today's 12-18 year olds) are “confident users of the internet, but are not particularly competent; "the skills of digital natives do not match their own self reportage” (Bartlett and Miller, 2011)
You see, I consider myself as a digital native (if we must use that term); I have been using computers since I was 8 or 9 years old (mostly to play games originally if I am honest but I did learn to program so I could hide my computer games on the floppy disks we used at the time from our teacher...).
I also know that technology has moved on amazingly since the 1980s as the picture here shows. See how difficult it was just to get a screen shot (and don't forget the photo still had to be printed and the page laid out before it could even be printed - there were no pdfs and softcopies!)
The danger is that the Digital Natives Myth still has credence in schools (read a quick deconstruction of the 6 MYTHS OF DIGITAL TECHNOLOGY) if you would like to know more. I guess it's a bit like the learning styles (VAK - Visual / Auditory / Kinaesthetic) which has also quite comprehensively been debunked; the "Digital Natives" concept sounds like it could be right but in actual fact, the reality is much more nuanced that that.
You can take a look at some of the evidence in The Impact of Digital Technology on Learning: A Summary for the Education Endowment Foundation by Professor Steven Higgins, ZhiMin Xiao and Maria Katsipataki by the School of Education, Durham University (you can read the summary here if you have a spare 10 minutes or the full report here which has a lot of detail).
Of course the other argument (analogy) goes along the lines of "I have a car, I don't need to know how it works..." and this is also a dangerous line of thinking as there are certain baseline things that people who drive cars (or use computers) need to know (but that will have to be a future blog posting).
Please read the summary of the Impact of Digital Technology on Learning here, it's all about the pedagogy and common sense but this is the type of information that should be informing teaching practice! The two key themes I would really agree with (if I only had to pick two) would be:
- It is certainly true that most young people do enjoy using technology in schools to support their learning. However, the assumption that any increased motivation and engagement will automatically lead to better learning is false
- It is important to recognise the relevance or importance of different pieces of information. Easy access to information can help, but it is no substitute for experience, understanding and expertise.
- There is no evidence the human brain has evolved in the last 50 years, so our learning capacity remains as it was before digital technologies became so prevalent