Sunday, October 23, 2016

Tech Savvy or Just Social Media Savvy????

Marc Prensky
This reading reminded me of the million conversations I have had with my mom trying to help her with her phone at various times....and every time I help her I remind her of the conversations she used to have with my Nana. My Nana used to somehow always mess up the clock on her VCR (yes, I said VCR) and she would call my mother frantic because the clock wouldn't stop flashing and it was driving her nuts. My mom would always walk her through the steps of resetting the time on the VCR and would always start or end with something like "If iI've told you once, I've told you a million times...." Technology in some form has been around forever and those who grew up with that technology tend to be more comfortable with it than those who are introduced to it as adults. Back in the day, the technology that my mom had grown up with was the VCR so that was "native" to her....with her iPhone.... she is very much a digital immigrant. And the iPhone is the least of her problems...her computer seems to do things "on its own" (according to her), that I've never seen befroe!

The idea of Digital Natives and Digital Immigrants is so interesting to me. I think at first glance many people would easily define these two terms as our students today who “seem” to be so tech savvy and then our parents and grandparents who can’t figure out how to send a text message or a photo to us. I think it is very easy for adults today to just assume this technological education is just innate in every child  and young adult, but this is huge misconception. I do it myself with my own children. I’m amazed on a daily basis how much my almost 3 year old and 5 year old can do when given any kind of device. However, just because they can swipe right and are able to get on youtube, does not mean they are digitally literate; it just means they are Digital Natives.

Marc Prensky coined the terms Digital Native and Digital Immigrant. He says that the youth of today are Digital Natives because “they are all ‘native speakers’ of the digital language of computers, video games and the Internet. Digital Immigrants are simply “those of us who were not born into the digital world but have, at some point later in our lives, become fascinated by and  adopted many or most aspects of the new technology”(179). These terms have become problematic for some reasons.
1. Many people assume untrue things about what kids know and do not know about technology.
2. What happens when there is  a digital divide between the privileged students who develop more skills than  underprivileged students who attend schools with limited technology?
3. Are teachers just assuming their students know how to do certain things and not teaching them to become digitally literate?

Our reading stated that the idea of the digital native “presents an inaccurate portrait of young people as uniformly prepared for the digital era and ignores the assumed level of privilege required to be native. The 3 problems I listed above are played out everyday in the high school that I teach in. Some teachers assume kids can do all sorts of things related to technology. Then when they cannot do something, the teacher will blame the child or a previous teacher. I see the digital divide between students every single day. More privileged students, who have had access to more technology, know more about how to navigate through the internet and how to find worthwhile information. While some of my students do not have internet at home and cannot even print their homework. I also see students who are thought to be tech savvy because they can navigate around the blocked sites at school, like snapchat and twitter, but in reality, they wouldn’t be able to find an article from a database to save themselves. 
In June of 2015, CNBC posted and article titled, Millennials Aren't as Tech Savvy as People Think. The article reenforces what Marc Prensky explains. There is a big difference between being able to navigate on social media sites and being able to use technology as a whole; not just social media. The article includes this date chart below which I find to be so interesting! Less than half of fhe students actually know how to appropriately use email!
Tech Proficiency LevelWhat Activity InvolvesPercentage of Millennials
Below Level 1Using one function within a generic interface19
Level 1 Sorting e-mails into pre-existing folders39
Level 2Locating information in a spreadsheet and emailing it 34
Level 3Using a reservation system to book a meeting room 8

All teachers need to start at ground zero with every student. They need to make a “list of what they expect a student to be able to do in this networking world” and then take the steps necessary to get all students in the same place.


  1. "All teachers need to start at ground zero with every student. They need to make a “list of what they expect a student to be able to do in this networking world” and then take the steps necessary to get all students in the same place."

    I agree with this 100%! I think at times teachers assume every student can navigate technology better than they can. However, we know this is not true. While the percentage might be small, some students have trouble just turning on an iPad. I think it is important when dealing with technology with all students, to start at the bottom when explaining how to use technology or the look fors in different media. This assumption could be detrimental to a child's education and experience, especially if they are one who needs hefty assistance.

  2. I am such a bad daughter! I am constantly getting into disagreements with my Mom or Dad, because I try to teach them how to use the technology. My Mom for the longest time didn't know how to use a mouse, and would get frustrated when I couldn't help but laugh. My dad doesn't know how to zoom in with his two fingers on a smartphone. Years ago, I taught my grandma how to use WebTv, and wrote her a guide from word on colored paper. She successfully navigated the web and played casino games! When there's a will, there's a way. My family reminds me to be patient with my students when teaching about or through technology!

    You are right that we need to start at ground zero. When I was in school, I remember a keyboarding class! We weren't expected to know, they taught us! In NC, our computer literacy class taught the students how to use word documents and create letters (kind of dated). I'm not sure what the computer science teacher teaches at PMS yet. But, we need to provide the students with a technology course! The students need our support. Accessing blocked sites does not mean they can book a meeting room through an online reservation space. I teach at a school with blended learning and 1:1 chromebook capabilities with 96% of students having internet access at home. I can't comprehend how this would be accessible if all of my students didn't have WiFi access like some of your students. Another instance of not looking at the privilege until you're forced to!

  3. I totally agree with your statement "just because they can swipe right and are able to get on youtube, does not mean they are digitally literate!" I am guilty of this an educator. My students are amazing with chrome books (something I have little experience with). Recently, I asked them to create Google slides to use as a study tool for science. This was an assignment that I left for a substitute when I was at professional development. I expected to come back to beautiful, elaborate slides because they are so quick with their phones and computers. However, I realized that although they could create the slides, they didn't understand what content was essential to write on the slides to study. Digital literacy is very different than being a fast texter :)

  4. That table of "Tech Proficiency Level" is very thought provoking. I believe that we should look for any biases that it may have - it approaches technology from a very corporate perspective. We could redo that table with different steps like "upload a youtube video" or "create a new layer on photoshop" or even "create a beat on garage band". All of these skills indicate a high level of technical proficiency, it is just not as marketable as those listed in the table.