[SLED] Are you an OLD Digital Native?

Eloise Pasteur eloisepasteur at gmail.com
Wed Feb 4 06:45:07 PST 2009

My crystal ball melted :)

Glad it was helpful though.


On 4 Feb 2009, at 12:37, Bruce Sommerville wrote:

> You're a wizard, Eloise, as Watson would have said to Holmes - you  
> are spot on in your diagnosis of my background, discipline, skill  
> set, and digital immigrant status. In fact, I was trained in the  
> sciences, but much later did a postgrad degree in an  
> interdisciplinary area that branched into literature, and I suddenly  
> found myself struggling to gain that new context. The result was  
> less than satisfactory, but it expanded my outlook no end.
> Thanks very much for that explanation of the importance of context.  
> It seems that this somewhat arbitrary Digital Native/Digital  
> Immigrant dividing line has limited applicability - like most  
> dichotomies, it is probably useful but simplistic, as others have  
> pointed out.
> I like your Digital-SOL group because it acknowledges the importance  
> of providing (and acquiring) a formal framework of how to acquire  
> new skills; our educational endeavours as teachers being directed  
> not so much at imparting knowledge, but teaching our students how to  
> acquire it for themselves.
> All the best,
> Bruce Sommerville.
> On Wed, Feb 4, 2009 at 6:58 PM, Eloise Pasteur <eloisepasteur at gmail.com 
> > wrote:
> You may be right Bruce, but I think you're eliding two different  
> things.
> There is certainly a trained and practised skillset that requires  
> maturity, and applies in any discipline. Some proportion of that  
> skillset may be transferable, but there is still jargon, base  
> knowledge of any discipline, the ability to rapidly sift based on  
> the accumulated knowledge in the field, the ability to critically  
> think in context etc. that doesn't transfer. I don't know what your  
> discipline is, but from what you've said I'll take a wild guess that  
> you're a scientist or engineer. So imagine you retire this year for  
> some reason, and decide from that reckless spirit that pulls you  
> into SL to go and study for a degree in European Literature. I'm  
> sure you're pedantic, precise, a critical thinker and all those  
> other skills to a very high level in your discipline.
> Suddenly you find yourself adrift in a discipline where your paper- 
> writing and report-writing skills are not incredibly useful: if,  
> like me and every life scientist I've ever met, you don't quote your  
> sources, but you do refer to them, you will struggle (as I did when  
> doing my teaching qualification) to quote your sources - but this is  
> an essential part of working in the humanities and arts. You will  
> read a paper, and whilst you may be able to pick apart illogical  
> elements in the argument better than your fellow students, you don't  
> have the background knowledge to assess if this is a rather boring  
> retrenching of an old argument, a well-considered, careful,  
> conservative small statement or a massively controversial shaking of  
> the academic tree. (You may well have colleagues who can quickly  
> answer this question for you, but you don't have it of yourself).  
> Your skills of careful observation and attention to detail will  
> suddenly appear to desert you - not because you have actually lost  
> them, but you don't have a context and breadth of experience to  
> determine what is important to notice, which details deserve  
> attention and which are smoke and mirrors. The chances are, I'm  
> fairly sure, high that you will learn the context to allow you to  
> apply them faster than many of your fellow 20-year old students.  
> However, I suspect you did that when you were 20 too. People, like  
> both of us, that remain in academia tend to find the skills and  
> knowledge sets that are required/rewarded in academic circles ones  
> that are relatively easy and/or rewarding to acquire. If you did a  
> long enough study and kept the records, I wonder how you would  
> compare to the 20 year olds that in another 20 years or so will be  
> in the equivalent position to your current one - they're the group  
> of your real peers.
> There is an element of age required to develop maturity in a field,  
> but age and maturity in an academic field doesn't necessarily  
> transfer when compared to those who will be leading academics in  
> their own right in the years to come.
> However, the digitial native/digital immigrants originally says  
> you're (I suspect) an immigrant, I'm an immigrant, everyone is who  
> was born before 1970 was. Born 31st December 1969 11:50 pm and  
> working in computer science, HCI and the like for all your  
> professional life and you're at a disadvantage in all things  
> computer-related to your twin born 1st January 1970 at 12:05 am who  
> has never turned on a computer on in their life, simply by virtue of  
> being a critically placed 15 minutes older. Reductio ad absurdam is  
> still a useful logical tool, and Perensky's statement does reduce to  
> this absurdity at the extreme.
> When I was 20 I couldn't have been doing a degree in molecular  
> genetics, because the discipline didn't exist. 20 year olds  
> certainly can have opportunities we didn't. But to claim by virtue  
> of being 20 they're more suited to using a computer simply because  
> they're 20, does that really make sense?
> El.
> On 3 Feb 2009, at 23:19, Bruce Sommerville wrote:
>>    As one who has not studied this distinction between digital  
>> natives and digital immigrants formally, I've followed this  
>> discussion with great interest. I would like to make an amateurish  
>> contribution based on my teaching experience - and please inform me  
>> of the academic stance on this obvious point:
>>    One aspect in which the year of birth may count is simply that  
>> students are young and have yet to acquire the broad and deeply  
>> ingrained skills that we, as adults, have. I find that the areas in  
>> which my students (aged ~20) need development are their skills of  
>> careful observation, attention to detail, and critical thinking (I  
>> count these as particularly important for Science and Engineering  
>> students). In short, their brains and minds are immature. Lack of  
>> these skills will affect every aspect of their study, including  
>> their use of technology, and can only be overcome after a long  
>> period of study, perhaps even extending to post-graduate study. It  
>> will take years of hard work and formal education for my students  
>> to become as pedantic as I am, and sometimes I wouldn't wish it on  
>> them!
>> Regards,
>> Bruce Sommerville.
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