ICT At Schools: Digital Natives Vs Digital Immigrants

Each year, decade and century brings many innovations into our world.

Nowadays, population is separated into two groups: those who are ‘Native Speakers’ of the digital language of computer technologies, and those, who are trying to learn this language. Do we have to use ICT at schools? How much time should an average person spend in social networks? What is better for use in classrooms – handwriting or typing? Those are questions that we hear everywhere, questions that stir up the entire world.

Me: Digital Native or a Digital Immigrant?

Personally, I consider myself a Digital Native, who does not appreciate all the goods the world nowadays gives to its inhabitants. Although I use my smartphone as the main way of communication with my family and friends, read eBooks instead of the paperbacks and go through thousands and thousands of Google pages each day, I still prefer taking notes on paper rather than on a laptop, meeting with my friends in real life instead of group chatting, and going to the theater instead of watching a movie using Netflix.

Although I was born in the age of rapid technology advancements and I used computer since the age of 5, it is still usually troublesome for me to figure out how exactly some new program is working or how to correctly install and play a new game on PC. In Latvian schools we never used laptops for studying (except for IT lessons and projects), and all the essays and homework were always written by pen. Of course, classrooms were equipped with Interactive Boards and projectors, which were connected to teachers’ computers, and we were taught how to use them. But usually they were used by teachers to show us additional material to the textbooks and we were only taking notes in our copybooks about the material which we were shown. So I can say that I never had a necessity of using computers for long periods, exploring new programs and learning the inner working of PC hardware. I am not even going to talk about coding or software development – it is easier for me to imagine myself on the Moon than developing a website or an app.

The reason I still consider myself a Digital Native even without knowing the proper computer language is primitive enough. As I was raised in the age of digital innovations, it is easier for me to gain computer skills than to the people, who got acquainted with computers being a grown-up. And, of course, I use my smartphone for all basic needs such as navigation, calculations and even shopping.

Necessity to talk about the differences between Digital Natives and Digital Immigrants

The conflict of generations arises from lots of different factors. One of most visible today – the difference in a way of using or avoiding modern technologies. I believe it is quite constructive to talk about Digital Natives and Digital Immigrants, because it enhances our understanding of the generational gaps in ICT-knowledge, qualifications, and skills. I think it is necessary to pay attention to it not only because of people who have to know what is going around the world, but also because of the importance of understanding how it can affect both groups of people. Humans tend to develop, improve their life and the world around, and it is impossible to do anything without discussing it at least fully enough to understand what actually is going on.

Thinking about the difference it is important to bear in mind that we cannot compare all the Digital Immigrants with all the Digital Natives, because even between the Immigrants there is a difference. As in the real world, some of the Digital Immigrants, having been pulled into the world of computer devices, do not want to discover it; some of the Immigrants do it worse, some – better, and a small part of the Digital Immigrants does it even better than the Natives. But the difference is not in the success, but in the speed of learning.

As I was raised in the age of technological advances, for me it is much easier to understand how to use any new technology than for the Digital Immigrants. To compare, I consider myself to be like a human who was born, for example, in Italy and whose first language was Italian, but then for some reason he moved to a country with completely different language, and, not having spoken Italian, he has almost forgot it. One day he will return to Italy, thinking that he does not remember anything. However, somewhere in depth of his memory all the basics that he has learned as a child will remain. For such a person it is much easier to remember his knowledge and re-educate himself than for someone who comes to Italy being an adult. Same with the ‘Computer Language’ – once learned, it is impossible to forget. The problem hides in the speed of learning, nothing else.

Exaggerated truth

Although the discussion about Digital Natives and Digital Immigrants is quite important for understanding the generational gaps in ICT knowledge and development of the world, I am still sure that there is too much fuss about it.

Luckily, the difference between being a Digital Immigrant or Digital Native is not such important nowadays – you only have to succeed at things that school or work is demanding from you. Luckily, there is not a lot of stuff you have to know to study well or get your job done (except if you are working in IT sphere). Maybe in 50 years, when the planet will be full of different gadgets, people will have to learn more. It is stupid to except the option that quite soon today called Digital Natives will turn into Immigrants because of the lack of knowledge. But at the moment you can survive without knowing the proper computer language (for example, writing on paper instead of computer, watching TV or YouTube – this is the matter of your choice).

Technologies – the assistance to the society

Each day technologies take a bigger part of humans’ life. Luckily, the use of information and communication technology in different areas of society (for example, school, work and home) is purposed to make the people’s life easier.

There are lots of benefits to using ICT in schools or work. First, it is a great way to show the visual material that cannot be simply printed in books or drawn on the blackboard. Second, it is much more effective to show something once than try to explain without showing an example (lets say, intead of repeating the phrase ‘We all know that human’s lungs are pink, and now imagine grey ones – these are the lungs of smokers. Do not smoke!’ just show pupils some scary pictures or even videos. Works brilliant).

It is very useful for children to learn how to make presentations and projects, how to draw up information correctly. Using laptops will also teach students to be more responsible, attentive and to prioritize – pupils will decide by themselves, what is better for them – sitting on Facebook during the lessons or listening to the teacher and pass the exams.

Using ICT at schools (such as Interactive Boards, computers and projectors) gives students or pupils an opportunity to be active, to pass on the information and use almost unlimited amount of information sources. With the help of ICT it is easier to have fun during the educational process (using Kahoot, for example). Wanting to participate, it will be easier for children to get involved with the educational process and learn everything they need not under the compulsion but by play. Additionally, it is cheaper for students to buy a laptop once than to purchase tons of copybooks, pens and other stuff like that each year during the school and, later, the university.

Me at the end of Experimental IT course

At the end of this course, I expect to be more competent in the following areas of working with ICT in schools: digital knowledge, ability to use apps for educational purposes, understanding of how to teach children correctly using modern technologies and of how to make children interested in subject, how to achieve good results while studying using ICT.

I believe that it is necessary for modern teachers to follow the latest developments and to give knowledge to their pupils or students in a creative and innovative way. In my opinion, it is especially important for teachers who work with children that were born in 21st century. To make children interested in the subject and find the right approach to each it is necessary to develop yourself and stay connected with children, their interests and their world view. By using ICT in classrooms, teachers show greater use of innovative teaching methods and, as the result, the children’s interest in subject increases.

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