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Why Do You Ask?

From asking questions that require an answer To asking questions that require a conversation.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Digital Native or Immigrant? Neither!

I know Prensky has taken some heat recently over the coinage of Digital Natives and Digital Immigrants.

I was actually told today that I didn't "get it" because I was a digital immigrant. You must understand that the person who told me this is only 6 years young than I, and when I responded that I did not consider either term to be accurate of the digital generation gap, but that Prensky was trying to make a point that young people were born into an environment where computer/video technology was already invented and therefore they are "native" to our current culture...I saw him furrow his brow as if to ask a question. I asked, "What?" He said, "Who is Prensky?"

Yeah, I'm the digital immigrant who doesn't get it.

As I explained and provided support for Marc Prensky's concept, I realized I may not be a native, but I am also not an immigrant...I am a Digital Translator.

The system where I work is about 68% Hispanic, and in the early years of the transition from 2% (in 1995) to where we are today, I recall numerous parent meetings in which the English-speaking teachers required translators so the parents could understand us and we could understand them.

A few years later, we had to implement English as Second or Other Language (ESOL) classes (which became ESL, and now ELL-English Language Learners). Whatever PC name you want to use, it has served as my topic for this post.

Part of the coursework for an ELL endorsement includes: strategies to help students learn, understanding the culture of the students you teach, and respecting the values of different cultures.

This is why I am a Digital Translator. I, as most of the people who will read this, are not aliens to the digital world, as a matter of fact some of you have created the very world in which you are considered an immigrant (irony of ironies). You are not a native because most of my readers were born pre-WWW. However, we are the ones who bridge the gap between DIs and DNs. We translate.

David Warlick has said, on a few occasions, he does necessarily "get" everything, but that does not make it a bad thing. It's not about the technology, it's what the technology allows you to do. Immigrants will seldom move beyond email, because it does everything they want. Natives want the Social Networking tools that allow them to receive updates, information, and fun in a one-stop shopping atmosphere. Translators understand the cultures, and simply seek to get Immigrants to understand and accept the values of the Natives, and vice versa. It's not that one is better than another, it's a preference (value?) of the user; so they can accomplish the things they want to accomplish in a way that is easiest (and perhaps entertaining) for their sensibilities. Immigrants do this through the non-stop email jokes, pps's, and >>>forwards. Natives accomplish the same thing in Facebook with Status updates, Groups, Wall posts, and the unending Facebook apps that can be added to a profile.

I may not be a Native, but I am also not an Immigrant. I am a proud male incarnation of Pocahontas. I was here before the WWW arrived, and as the Natives and Immigrants seek to live together in WebWorld, I will do my best to translate, to increase tolerance, and maybe get them to Twitter each other one day. :-)

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