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The digital natives are restless

Can hybrid education inspire a new generation of learners?

Digital natives have been immersed in a world of video games, computers, digital music players, and cell phones since they were born.

We believe many American schools today provide an effective education, but that the bar is rising, requiring new ways to think about how to educate today’s students. A growing number of experts and educators are examining the ABC’s of how the system approaches the challenges of educating this generation of students. These students are fundamentally different than their predecessors even a single generation ago, and hybrid education could provide powerful solutions.

Experts point to the current crop of digital natives–kids born into a world of modern technology. Digital natives have been immersed in a world of video games, computers, digital music players, and cell phones since they were born. That’s vastly different from the world of digital immigrants–an older generation that’s learning to adopt technology later in life.

Digital immigrants are learning to speak a language that doesn’t come as naturally to them. While many have successfully mastered all types of technology, it’s a language they’ve adopted incrementally. Digital natives, on the other hand, have been shaped by the internet, Google searches, and instant messaging from day one and can’t imagine life without technology.

The terms digital native and digital immigrant were coined in 2001 by Marc Prensky, an internationally acclaimed thought-leader, speaker, writer, consultant, and game designer in the fields of education and learning who’s also an outspoken proponent of creating a new educational paradigm that makes learning more relevant to today’s students. It’s an idea that’s sparked much debate and inspired some educators to adapt blended or hybrid learning programs to teach and inspire today’s students.

The undeniable truth is that the world we live in outside the classroom has drastically changed. It begs the question: how can our classrooms change and evolve as well?

Digital natives: Students 2.0

“Today’s students are incredibly sophisticated,” says Rajeshri Gandhi, an academic advisor at Thesys International, an educational company and provider of hybrid education programs. “The availability of the internet has conditioned them to ask questions and get answers instantaneously.” That’s a far cry from the card catalog and encyclopedias most digital immigrants grew up with.

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Comments:

  1. pixilinx

    August 22, 2011 at 3:11 pm

    A review: Although I’m 100% behind MORE use of tech as teaching tools, this article reads like an advertisement for the products sold by “Thesys International” and offers little of value to teachers. It makes several unqualified statements about the kids of today which don’t “ring true”, at least, not to me, & I’m a teacher. I can’t imagine the author has spent any time as a classroom teacher, maybe excepting time spent teaching “consumers” how to use his product.

    WHERE are these tech savvy tech natives the author talks about?? I teach in large metro area city schools in Silicon Valley. Truly tech savvy kids are a thin sample of the school populations. Just because they know how to use a cell phone, an MP3 player, send emails/ IM, & play games with Wii (etc.), doesn’t make them “tech savvy”.

    Facility with those [above] 4 common skills means [to me] that the kid has first, MEMORIZED, by rote, step by step, the procedures for operating that particular device, then, they practice doing the same thing over & over. This is “linear” learning, or to use the education industry jargon, “sequential learning”.

    The reason kids are willing to do this is the content appeals to them, popular music & games. “Everyone”, understandably, likes those things, same as generations before, but I don’t see that as an indicator of a major shift in “how kids learn” or how they become literate.

  2. pixilinx

    August 22, 2011 at 3:11 pm

    A review: Although I’m 100% behind MORE use of tech as teaching tools, this article reads like an advertisement for the products sold by “Thesys International” and offers little of value to teachers. It makes several unqualified statements about the kids of today which don’t “ring true”, at least, not to me, & I’m a teacher. I can’t imagine the author has spent any time as a classroom teacher, maybe excepting time spent teaching “consumers” how to use his product.

    WHERE are these tech savvy tech natives the author talks about?? I teach in large metro area city schools in Silicon Valley. Truly tech savvy kids are a thin sample of the school populations. Just because they know how to use a cell phone, an MP3 player, send emails/ IM, & play games with Wii (etc.), doesn’t make them “tech savvy”.

    Facility with those [above] 4 common skills means [to me] that the kid has first, MEMORIZED, by rote, step by step, the procedures for operating that particular device, then, they practice doing the same thing over & over. This is “linear” learning, or to use the education industry jargon, “sequential learning”.

    The reason kids are willing to do this is the content appeals to them, popular music & games. “Everyone”, understandably, likes those things, same as generations before, but I don’t see that as an indicator of a major shift in “how kids learn” or how they become literate.

  3. jlandr21

    August 29, 2011 at 3:24 pm

    Bring back Number Munchers to the classroom, I say!

  4. jlandr21

    August 29, 2011 at 3:24 pm

    Bring back Number Munchers to the classroom, I say!

  5. andrewmason

    September 2, 2011 at 12:18 pm

    Seeing my five year old daughter take the principles of using her iPod Touch and apply them to using an iPad and an interactive touchscreen display in a store tells me she has internalized the interface. She also can access programs or links to websites because she knows that if she double touches or uses a mouse to click, the computer will do what she wants it to. As she develops literacy, numeracy, and critical thining skills, she will integrate them with her technology skills. Technology changes learning by creating new efficient methods of accessing information. She, like many children, learn by doing. What we have to do is give them a purpose and context to use these skills. That way they can apply these skills in new situations.


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