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May 29, 2008

Digital Natives and Digital Immigrants

From the eState Symposium:

Had a great discussion with my small group, which I'll report on later. The panel is starting. But first I want to share an anecdote.

I just ran into Champlain College professor Elaine Young, who said she doesn't like the terms "digital natives" and "digital immigrants." They were mentioned earlier in the big group session, and seem to be popular today.

Elaine doesn't like them because, she says, "We're all immigrants when it comes to technology." It sets up a misleading paradigm that young people know everything when it comes to technology. So she says.

It was a fun conversation Cathy -- I hear a lot about how tech-savvy the students are, however, there is a big difference between playing and knowing. Your comment from the later session about the deeper concerns about privacy on Facebook (not as who is going to see your info, but rather, how FB will use your info) is a prime example.

The students in that session were a small group of users -- and they all used technology differently. All great examples, for sure, but that shouldn't mean that we all then assume that ALL college students are doing the same thing.

Eventually we all come across something new -- and considering how those of us who have had to learn how to adapt real time to the changes technology brings into our work and personal lives, seems to me there is a lot to learn from both sides!

I'll write more about this at my blog when I get back from vacation.

Pleasure seeing 'ya today!


I think the key difference between digital natives and digital immigrants -- the one that's useful anyway -- is that digital natives (and yes, this IS a generational difference, despite what I overheard some folks saying at lunch yesterday), the process of adapting to new digital technologies is easier because they've been doing it all their lives, while for those of us who've been around a few more years, there's a little extra effort that's required to go there. It doesn't mean older people can't be very tech-savvy, it just means they probably had to work a little harder to get there than those for whom digital tools have been taken for granted since an early age.

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