So I have been bugged for a while with the term 'digital natives' and finally I am bugged enough to write about it. I keep on hearing this term bashed around suggesting all our kids are digital natives, therefore it is ok just to launch technology at them and they will deal with it. This term comes cloaked in sayings like; 'the kids know more than us', 'just give it to them and they'll work it out faster than us'... the list goes on. What it looks like is teachers throwing technology at kids and expecting them to use it without enough guidance (I am guilty also).
The reality I see is that this is a facade. The whole idea of digital natives is a load of trash. Our kids grow up in a digital age, but many are not 'natives' in the true sense. The term 'native' points to an individual who has a handle on the things in their environment, they can use the surroundings and survive fine. A jungle native can use all the jungle and live effectively within.
What I have seen is that our kids aren't digital natives, they are digital nomads, nomads in the sense that their environment is always changing due to developments around them and their digital desires which shift them like the sand in the desert.
This environment is also a multi-technoral (a made up word I have created equivalent to 'multicultural') environment, as within it there are many tech languages. Each kid is entering this multi-technoral environment with different digital languages, some speak games, others text, some program, others talk facebook, a few type and the list goes on. The reality is there are many digital languages that they don't have a handle on.
So as a teacher my concern is we often throw them into this environment and expect them to survive, however the reality is that we need to ensure they speak the digital language we are using. We can't assume we have digital natives, we can assume we have a multi-technoral class with many different languages. It is our job to ascertain which digital languages are spoken and to ensure we are multi-techno-linugal in our teaching so we can speak, teach and engage all our kids.