Friday 20 November 2015

Digital Immigrant or Native? Growth Mindset More Important

Evolution involves adapting to a surrounding to survive over time. In the education profession, it is similar as a teacher in a digital age. According to Marc Prensky (2001), digital immigrants are individuals who have not grown up in a digital age and have needed to adapt and adopt the new 'language' of technology'. Digital Natives are individuals who have grown up using technology. We can't expect the educational world to regress back to times without technology so it is up to both the 'digital immigrant' and 'digital native' to continue to evolve with their environment by embracing education with technology integration.

By that definition, I would be considered more on the digital native end of the spectrum with technology integrated into my schooling and experiences at times, though not fully.  Technology played a large role in my educational upbringing in university. My students therefore be digital natives as they have always grown up surrounded by technology with access to technology.

For me, I believe those labels don't belong in education. Rather I believe the focus should be more on growth mindset and the willingness to learn. No student or educator will ever know all there is when it comes to technology. It is important to have a growth mindset rather than a fixed mixed as an approach to learning.

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A growth mindset as an educator allows you to be open-minded to new ideas and concepts. Educators with a growth mindset enjoy trying to challenge their thinking and push boundaries beyond their current knowledge. An educator with a growth mindset continues to problem solve with resiliency until they are able to come to a suitable solution. 'Not possible' is not the answer, rather an opportunity to try something new.

When we stop worrying about failing or looking silly for trying, we can allow ourselves the ability to explore a technology to understand it and find deeper and more meaningful uses of it within our classrooms.

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For more thoughts on being willing to learn and eliminating the labels of digital native and immigrant,  please feel free to check out an earlier blog post here.

Prensky, M. (2001). Digital natives, digital immigrants part 1. On the Horizon, 9(5), p. 1-6.


  1. Hi Emily,
    I certainly agree with you that labels do not belong in education. As an 'older' teacher I fall into the digital immigrant group. This term could be quite off-putting for teachers of my generation who may already feel overwhelmed by new technologies- those with a fixed mindset that they can never keep up with the digital natives!

  2. Hi Janine!

    I'd rather work with a teacher who is open to new ideas than a teacher who knows many technologies but doesn't want to change their ways. Times change and we need to be willing to roll with it. No one will ever know it all, and there's never just one way. Plus, it's more fun to experiment with new tools and see where our students take them!