Generational Differences

After reading Marc Prensky’s Digital Natives, Digital Immigrantsmany ideas still resonate with me. First, being of the digital age, I consider myself to be a Digital Native. That being said, I think that there is more than one section of learners in the Digital Natives group. Being born in the 80s and growing up during a time when real libraries with musty smelling books was the only place to find the answer, I can not align myself with many digital natives that continue to go for the “easy” google answer, or another search engine at the touch of a dial. Does this mean that I don’t use these websites? Obviously not. However, it is important to note that these mid 90s Digital Natives have something that I know I don’t subscribe to; the notion of entitlement.

Without getting on my soapbox too much, let me explain. One of the greatest difficulties with lesson planning and teaching in general today, is the students’ sense of entitlement. They have been raised during a time where the answers are at their fingertips and they have been given the answers. Their work ethic is poor and they rarely do research that requires going to more than one website, let alone going to those places that store books. Pre-90s Digital Natives still had to do real library research. We are not so self-involved that we don’t look for easier ways to do things, but the work ethic shows in more than just a cut and paste mode of writing and learning.

In all of the articles that I have read this week, I think the biggest idea that has come to me is the notion of Digital Immigrants learning to speak the Digital Language. I agree and disagree to some extent. Digital Immigrants need to adapt their language and lessons to fit with the changing technology. But, I believe that the hard work ethic and rigorous standards of the Digital Immigrants needs to be upheld. Digital Natives are becoming lax on assignments. We need the language of the Digital Natives but the work ethic and rigor of the Digital Immigrants in order to create more successful citizens.

Link to Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants


Prensky, M. (2001). Digital natives, digital immigrants – Part II: Do they really think differently? On the Horizon, 9(6). Retrieved from,%20Digital%20Immigrants%20-%20Part1.pdf


5 thoughts on “Generational Differences

  1. Alyssa, while the dichotomy of digital natives/digital immigrants resonated with you, I’m wondering if you believe that they are indeed a generational label? By this I mean do you think that the description of digital natives applies to all of those born 1980 and later? In much the same way that baby boomers describe everyone of that generation.

    • Yes and no. You can label our generation as the Digital Natives, but what about those that were born in this generation that don’t have access to Internet or other technologies. There is still a Digital Divide among our generation. Do we have the capability to be literate in this new language? Yes. Does everyone have the opportunity and resources to access it? Not necessarily. It’s a difficult question to answer, at least in my opinion.

      • The reason I asked the question is twofold. The first is that many of the generational labels ascribed to today’s students are based on no research or a VERY skewed sample (including the digital natives tag). However, you mentioned the sense of entitlement, which is consistent with the Generation Me work done by Jean Twenge (see – which is based on solid research.

  2. Hi Alyssa!
    I found the article and your post very interesting. I agree that rigor and standards need to be upheld, but I don’t think that using technology in new ways necessarily gets rid of the rigor. Sometimes using google to get a quick answer is a great solution. Here’s an example:

    Students are asked to answer a question. 15 years ago, the might have to go to the library, look through the reference section, and hunt for the answer. Now, they can google it and find the answer quickly. Students need to be able to discern if the answer they found comes from a reliable source, but nonetheless, they can do it much more quickly.

    Now that we’ve saved all that time, we can use the information that the student has gained to pursue some higher level thinking. I’m talking about the top three levels of Blooms Taxonomy – analysis, synthesis, and creation. The internet is a huge time saver and we can spend more class time on having students become critical thinkers and do-ers. I really appreciate that and I think the students have more fun with it.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s