Getting To Know the Digital Natives

by Kristie Burk

One day I was in the Giant Food Store getting ready to check out my groceries. A middle-aged cashier was transitioning her register to a teenager taking over for the next shift.

“Do you have these numbers memorized?” the older woman said, showing the young girl a piece of paper with the SKUs for various items, such as avocados and cucumbers.

“No,” the girl replied.

“No problem,” said the woman. “This one is mine, but grab a pen and you can write it down.”

“Oh, that’s okay,” said the girl as she reached into her back pocket for her mobile phone. “I’ll just take a picture of your list.”

And that, my friends, is the difference between us and them. It was really unfathomable to the teenage girl to write down an entire list when taking picture was so much quicker; she is probably also less likely to lose the list the next time she needs it.

I was struck in the grocery store that day about how different the world is for our students and how important it is to connect school and learning to their everyday lives. (Hence, the ivy vine as a symbol for our blended learning program.)

Our students, sometimes referred to as “digital natives,” are different than we are. Shall we make a list?

Today’s students

  • don’t rely on pen and paper!
  • collaborate. A lot.
  • learn via participation.
  • are used to instantaneous information.
  • perceive information to be malleable.
  • are accustomed to sharing knowledge.
  • document every aspect of their lives.
  • don’t send mail or even email.
  • text instead of call.
  • customize and personalize everything.
  • prefer graphics over text.
  • mix work, school, and play.
  • have no expectations for privacy online.
  • do not think of technology as a “tool.”

Digital natives may be comfortable with technology, but they still need us! Why? Because today’s students don’t necessarily use critical thinking skills to disseminate the information they find online. They need to learn how to conduct fruitful searches, how to evaluate sources, and how to avoid plagiarism. They need to understand how to protect their reputations and their privacy. They need to learn how to use technology respectfully and how to follow copyright laws. In other words, they still need us, the digital immigrants.

Do you have any comments? Post them at dtowntechchat.wordpress.com.

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One comment

  1. Kristie- You are absolutely correct! And I love that you gave the job description of the DASD Librarians: Digital natives may be comfortable with technology, but they still need us! Why? Because today’s students don’t necessarily use critical thinking skills to disseminate the information they find online. They need to learn how to conduct fruitful searches, how to evaluate sources, and how to avoid plagiarism. They need to understand how to protect their reputations and their privacy. They need to learn how to use technology respectfully and how to follow copyright laws.

    Like

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