News

The digital natives are restless

By Alan Rudi
August 22nd, 2011

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.