Monday, December 28, 2009

Interesting post about Digital Natives vs. Immigrants

Check out this post from GeekSugar that highlights the digital native vs. the digital immigrant.

X-mas Wii post

Sunday, December 27, 2009


Over the course of the last eight weeks, I have been engaged in the learning and creation of various technological advancements that can be incorporated into the classroom, involved in discussions on the rationale for why technology should be brought to students of today, and active in considering various expert standpoints on how and why technology has a place in modern classrooms. As Marc Prensky has outlined, the students that we encounter in the classroom these days are digital natives (Prensky, 2001). These students are well versed and well practiced in technology and spend a great deal of their out-of-school time using technology (McHale, 2005) (November, 2007). This class has opened doors to help me realize not only the need to bring technology and 21st Century skills to the classroom (Laureate, 2008), but the ways and means to provide these innovations to the classroom through the information provided by Richardson (2009).

Upon entering this class, I considered myself relatively skilled in navigating technology. I regularly used wikis, used online resources for entertainment and references, read blogs, maintained an RSS feed, used social media daily, engaged in online chats, made purchases and paid bills online, sourced the internet through my mobile phone, communicated by e-mail and uploaded photographs. Despite my regular, even heavy, use of technology, most of my interactions were one sided. During this course, I was able to expand my reader to incorporate more education based feeds and become an active part of the online education community. After creating a blog for the class, I developed a level of comfort with blogging and started a classroom blog and a personal blog. My enthusiasm for blogging has reached my coworkers and I will soon be teaching a professional development course for my colleagues on setting up, maintaining and reaching students through blogs. I was able to collaborate with my classmates to create a wiki on the various blogs we had discovered to provide a resource for one another and beyond. Though my initial attempts at bringing a wiki into my classroom was not warmly received, I feel that I have a strong baseline of understanding of wikis such that I will be able to bring them into my regular classroom instruction in the future with better success.

Undoubtedly, my greatest pleasure and success with new technology incorporation has been with blogging. My classroom blog has been met with enthusiasm from my students, my administration and my colleagues. I have found opportunities for incorporating video tutorials, providing homework assignments and attachments, fun challenges and links to games that reinforce the concepts that I am teaching in my curriculum. I believe that this avenue will allow me to engage and motivate my students in a way that will maximize both their learning and enjoyment (Prensky, 2005) (Laureate, 2008). Though there is a wealth of research and writing backing up the efficacy of dynamic incorporation of technology and 21st Century skills, the enthusiasm and interaction that I see from my students is sufficient proof for the merits of my efforts.

I hope to continue to expand my knowledge of technology by continuing to explore what is available. I have been active in participating in online communities about education and technology. Blogs such as the Blue Skunk Blog and David Warlick’s 2₵ Blog for education, and technology blogs like Lifehacker keep me apprised of new developments and technologies for the classroom. My own exploration of blog creation has enabled me to bring multimedia to my page and expand its reach via the use of links to other online resources. In order to improve my knowledge and understanding of wikis, I need to further investigate the wiki work of other educators. Currently, my knowledge and expertise with wikis is limited and I would like to see more of their potential in action from the postings of fellow educators. Understanding the potential of wikis will better enable me to find ways to best incorporate their usefulness in my classroom.

My long-term goals for the further incorporation of technology in my classroom are to maintain and improve my blog and to bring technology-based lessons to my classroom. The first goal of further developing the blog is limitless. I see potential for increased student interaction via the use of required comments, a platform for starting webquests, and a space for me to post podcasts and videos. Though I feel I have created a template and online home for myself and my students that is relatively well established, I see that the possibilities for improving the page and moving beyond the basic set up that I have established are expansive. This technology can be part of every day by bringing the class instruction and curriculum beyond the walls of the classroom and creates a better understanding of the content via the “hands-on” interaction in the medium that our students are best versed in (Nussbaum-Beach, 2008). I will meet this goal by remaining highly active in developing and improving my blog with various multimedia components and networking with other bloggers and educators. “Anytime, anywhere” is the notion that technology is omnipresent and a blog allows me to be one of the influences that my students can turn to (Friedman, 2005) (Laureate, 2008).

The second goal may be harder to achieve, but I feel will have a greater impact on the full education of my students. I would like to use technology in my classroom on a more regular basis. Be it the use of the Smartboard, computers in the classroom for research, power-point presentations and/or wiki creation for content review, I feel that the more that I do with technology in my instruction, the more the curriculum will come alive for my students and be relevant to their lives. Students will need technology skills when they enter the workforce and the 21st Century skills of working together and communicating with people all over the world (Friedman, 2005) (Hof, 2007). By including various elements of technological offerings like online chats and communications, and students posting their learnings, the children will be able to work in the medium that they are best versed in. Though complications and difficulties due to resources and funding do exist in fulfilling this goal, part of my personal goal will include being an advocate for the use and incorporation of technology in our district. My hope is that I will be able to bring various elements of technology into my regular classroom instruction such that my students do not see technology in school as a discrete event that happens occasionally, rather as a common and customary means for acquiring knowledge.

Throughout this course, I have been able toward the creation side of technological advancements that benefit education. Previously I sought out information and resources through technology, but now I feel well versed in providing and distributing knowledge online. I have read and processed the rationale presented by experts on why the incorporation of technology is necessary for today’s students and I have learned how to access, create and improve resources online to benefit my students. Most importantly though, my enthusiasm for technology is heightened and I am excited to bring technology to my students. As Dr. Thornburg said, “Learning is a human craft and a human task” (Laureate, 2008). I am happy and excited to be a human teacher with a strong interest in technology.


Friedman, T. (2005, April 3). It's a flat world, after all. The New York Times. Retrieved from

Hof, R. (2007, August 20). The end of work as you know it.

Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). 2008. Skills for the 21st Century [Motion picture]. Understanding the Impact of Technology on Education, Work, and Society. Baltimore: Author.

McHale, T. (2005). Portrait of a digital native. Technology & Learning. Retrieved from

November, A. (2007). Banning student 'containers'. Technology & Learning. Retrieved from

Nussbaum-Beach, S. (2008). No Limits. Technology & Learning, 28(7), 14–18. Retrieved from

Prensky, M. (2001). Digital natives, digital immigrants. On the Horizon, 9(5).

Prensky, M. (2005). Listen to the Natives. Educational Leadership, 63(4), 8–13.

Richardson, W. (2009). Blogs, Wikis, Podcasts, and Other Powerful Web Tools for Classrooms
(2nd ed.). Thousand Oaks: Corwin Press.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Digital Natives Podcast

Marc Prensky speaks of “digital natives” as people that have grown up in tandem with the proliferation of technology (Prensky, 2001). My grade six students range in age from ten to twelve and live in a moderately affluent town. Even students that are from a lower socioeconomic background than most have access to technology at home. In my attempt to better understand the influence of technology on my students lives, I surveyed 90 of my students on a variety of technology based questions. In addition to the general information gathering, I was able to personally interview a few of my students about their comfort level with technology. Excerpts from these conversations are included in the following podcast.

Survey results:
Demographics:              46 boys, 44 girls, 90 students total. 
1 ten year-old, 70 eleven year-olds, 19 twelve year-olds.

·        38% of students own a cell phone, 41% of those students have internet on their phone, 85% of those students use text messaging on their phones.
·        88% own an ipod/MP3 player
·        50% have their own computer
·        69% have laptop computers at home, 100% have a computer at home
·        84% have internet access at home
·        27% have a facebook page, 3% have a myspace page
·        41% use instant messaging online
·        3% have their own blogs
·        8% have added to a wiki in some capacity
·        84% have a video game system at home, 49% of those systems are hooked up to the internet
·        72% have a wii video game system at home
Technology usage:
Among the 34 students that have cell phones, eight students reported that they spend three or more hours on their phone each day. On average, my students with cell phones spend 1.44 hours a day on their cell phones talking, texting and/or using the internet.

Based on student reported averages, my students spend about 1.3 hours a day on their home computers each day. Only eight students reported that they do not go online on an average day and the group average was 1.4 hours a day, with seven students stating that they spend four or more hours online each day.

All but 15 students play video games on a regular basis. Students spent an average of 1.27 hours a day playing video games.

74 students reported that they primarily use technology at home. Usage at a friend’s house was the next most common place, followed by school and a relative’s house and the fewest votes for the library.

When asked what they would want if they could own or have access to more technology, students wrote in the following answers:
·        Laptop (28)
·        Cell phone (49)
·        facebook (5)
·        Personal TV/Better TV (9)
·        ipod (17)
·        Instant messaging (9)
·        Various gaming systems/ video games (33)
When asked what they believed was outdated technology, the following answers were submitted.
·        Cassettes (9)
·        MP3 Player- non-ipod (8)
·        Gameboy (12)
·        Various gaming systems- PS2, gamecube, playstation, etc. (25)
·        Disposable cameras
·        Film
·        Flip phones
·        Desktop computers
·        Tube televisions- non flatscreen
·        Radios
·        Boomboxes
·        Records

Level of expertise:
59% of students reported that they believe that they are better than their parents when it comes to working with technology. Less than 6% believed that they were worse than their parents. 56% of students considered themselves to be about equal to their teachers in technological understanding, 18% believed the teachers were more skilled and the remaining 26% feel that they are more skilled than their teachers.

Favorite Aspect of Technology:
Fifteen students cited the internet as their favorite aspect of technology, with many elaborating that the speed and access that the internet affords and the availability of information are what they like about the internet. Twenty-nine students mentioned communicating with friends through various outlets such as facebook, texting, instant messaging, cell phones, e-mail and internet/video games. They also mentioned the ease of communicating for school work as well as in social capacities. Most of the other students cited video gaming systems and the interactive elements of online gaming.

Reflection on Survey Results:
I found that the survey results met my expectations. My students engage in a high level of interaction with technology and I expected that they would have access to many technological resources. I was most curious to see how they compared their understanding and comfort level with technology to that of their parents and teachers. As the teachers on our team are all in our thirties and relatively savvy with technology, I expected that students would rank our abilities relatively high. Fifty-six percent of students believed that we were on par with their abilities, but twenty-six percent felt that they were more skilled than the teachers. I would love to explore this further and see how we actually compare. As the students’ parents, on average, are a little bit older than the teachers and the children see us using technology regularly in school, I am not surprised that the teachers were ranked at a higher skill level than the parents, but I was amazed that 59% of the students believed that they are more skilled at technology than their parents. Again, I think it would be very interesting to determine actual skill levels of each group.

I was also intrigued by the level of comfort with technology that my students expressed. I was unable to use one student interview because when I asked him what he thought he would be able to do with my cell phone if I let him borrow it for a few minutes because he was laughing too hard to hear the intricacies of his ability to work with the technology. These digital natives know how technology works and feel comfortable exploring new technologies with confidence.

Prensky, M. (2001). Digital natives, digital immigrants. On the Horizon, 9(5).