The Digital Natives Are Restless

Andrew Sullivan —  Aug 30 2012 @ 10:10am

Teachers Jody Passanisi and Shara Peters notice that, for a kid, being a digital native isn't always an advantage when it comes to learning:

We [adults], as "digital immigrants," remember writing research papers by reading through piles of journals, books, and archives of periodicals. When we approach online research, we realize how revolutionary the Internet is because we know what it was like before. We then apply those research techniques to online search engines, and find our tasks much easier to complete. Our students have no frame of reference of a "pre-Internet" world. They are accustomed to working with intuitive electronics that provide instant gratification, and when they are not able to be "done" quickly, they tend to become discouraged.

They go on to explain a project they gave their 8th graders which involved using a non-intuitive online tool:

We thought that since our students were digital natives, this would be no problem, and they would be able to figure it out. Oh, were we mistaken. After quelling the near mutiny that ensued, quieting the chorus of “I don’t get it” and “mine doesn’t work,” and helping to calm down our students, we realized that we had misunderstood the concept of digital natives. All technology was not created equal for access by these students, and their proficiency is often predicated by the amount of patience and determination required to complete a given task.