Digital resident makes more sense than digital native

Marc Prensky’s digital native metaphor has made the rounds of every educational conference imaginable.  While it’s provided a base line for discussion, it quickly moves to polarizing groups.

We found that our students could not be usefully categorised as Digital Natives or Digital Immigrants. I.e. This distinction does not help guide the implementation of technologies it simply provides the excuse that some people ‘just don’t get it’ which is why your new approach has failed so badly

I discovered this link today from Alice who led me to a post that uses the terms “resident” and “visitor” rather than immigrant and native.  Native implies born and raised, you can’t become a native. You either are or you are not. Anyone can become a resident. It’s a choice.

This Visitor, Resident distinction is useful when considering which technologies to provide for online learners. For example if your learners are mainly Visitors they are unlikely to take advantage of any feed based system for aggregated information you may put in place. They are also unlikely to blog or comment as part of a course.

As I read this, I thought of my class of pre-service teachers. I’m definitely trying to turn them into residents. But I hear that when you visit a new country, it’s best to learn to live like the locals. Who knows, you might even decide to stay. I hope some of my students will become permanent residents.

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