Christopher Scanlons piece in the Australian thows more cold water on the anthropological ‘natives’ theory (ref earlier comments). Scanlon’s observations as a lecturer in journalism at Charles Sturt Uni give us more cause to dispute the assertion that the natives have any natural ability in the use of online technologies. Scanlon notes with his own students that few have blogs, use Flickr or create their own websites. Their use of search engines for research is also unsophisticated.
Conducting recent workshops on blogs and wikis for NSW DET, also confirmed my growing impression that it is the more experienced teachers who are becoming the early adopters of new technologies. These teachers are comfortable with their teaching practise and have mastery of their subject domains and are now seeking new challenges to enhance their teaching.
Scanlon comes up with a few theories on why the native theory has taken root. These include Prensky’s original observations using an elite group of students (Harvard) and his business interests. But more critically it is perhaps the superficial observations made of the ‘gen Yers’ working with new tech that has been misinterpreted. The trap of older observers seeing the use of social networking tools and believing it constitutes sophisticated online practise. Rather as Scanlon notes the use of these technologies requires no more ability than using email. Expose them to having to develop non wizard based products and they are as befuddled as the rest of us. An therin lies the problem- we have false expectations on these students which could set them up for failure.