Digital Natives vs Digital Immigrants: There’s a lot to learn for everyone!
Due to loneliness and anxiety of living in a pandemic-rocked world where nothing was the same anymore, people turned to technology, especially laptops and smartphones, for support and to connect with each other.
The year 2020 unleashed a crisis that literally forced the present generation to rush into a digital life, as this was the only way left for everyone, including teachers and educators, to reach out to each other or communicate. To curb loneliness and the anxiety of living in a pandemic-rocked world where nothing was the same anymore, people turned to technology, especially laptops and smartphones, for support. The world resorted to every possible tool at their disposal- be it instant messaging apps earlier used only for personal chats, or hard-core corporate resources like video-conferencing softwares, office suites or popular social media platforms that were earlier frowned upon by the more conservative teaching fraternity, into new-age teaching-learning material.
It really was the year of experimentation, challenging the otherwise inexorable teaching community to shed all existing beliefs, and start afresh, embarking upon a journey on a road they had not yet taken, and were not prepared to take either.. The journey, therefore, was not only a quest to reach the destination, but a rite of passage to pave the entire way in the process.
These accelerated technological advancements, the rise in usage of online media, and the reduced cost of mobile technology have opened a communication factor that has sharply affected inter-personal involvement and relationships between parents, children and School. Virtual interactions have affected face-to face interactions, not only among adults but between parents and their children as well. Such a development has strongly impacted the involvement of parents in the lives of their children. It is important for parents to be personally engaged not only with students, but also educational institutions, in keeping the role of parents relevant throughout the educational phase of the life of a child or a young learner.
The new generation has been digitally smart since birth and is comfortable with technology. We can call them ‘digital natives’, while the previous generation encountered digital means and technological advances at a later point in life and are referred to as ‘digital immigrants’. So, basically speaking, ‘digital natives’ are the students and ’digital immigrants’ are the parents in this case. This gap leaves the oldsters struggling to deal with the speed of digital evolution.
There are considerable challenges for parents whose kids are connected with online education; in the form of being updated with the latest digital learning techniques, applications, learning software, and other online information. Apart from being just digitally literate, parents need to identify the newest e-learning apps or software. Parents need to think about how they will connect with their children and play the vital role of a facilitator whilst using technology!
Digital immigrants in spite of being less tech-savvy, can therefore teach the natives to achieve their goals quickly and more efficiently. They can help the “techno-wizards” scale their learning and create what is possible without being threatened by the insecurities that lurk around the virtual world. The immigrants including teachers and parents can bring their experience of the existing systems and institutions and help re-purpose the natives and make them rethink their vitality. A Native may be able to offer great ideas with the modern set-up including layouts, image, design and labeling, while the immigrant would contribute to their knowledge and expertise by passing down their experience and mature perspectives.
Today, the virtual world population is higher than that of the real one because of the many virtual identity and accreditation systems created by social networking, the new citizenship and the new membership which is responsible for the control of data and their management, control of family and of children’s education. The web is actually replacing the primary social functions, without supervision and in particular without specialization as such it’s essential for the ‘digital immigrants’ to turn to be ‘digitally smart’ to help and guide our ‘digital natives’.
There is no denial of the fact that a virtual world with multiple identities being non-steerable and undirected is not a safe world for educating and raising children, and constant support and guidance from parents is a necessity.
The true globalization, the real future of technology passes through sharing rules, mutual approval of common laws for the common good. It’s impossible to take part in the same game with different rules; and this is the primary need of the virtual world, the affirmation and approval of unique mutual rules and in preparing those rules we need the involvement of both students and parents.
Digital immigrants in spite of being less tech-savvy, can therefore teach the natives to achieve their goals quickly and more efficiently. They can help the “techno-wizards” scale their learning and create what is possible without being threatened by the insecurities that lurk around the virtual world. The immigrants including teachers and parents can bring their experience of the existing systems and institutions and help re-purpose the natives and make them rethink their vitality.
Dr S P Dutta is a teacher since 3 decades, and is the Principal of Krishnagar Public School, West Bengal. Dr. Dutta has always kept the CHILD at the CENTRE of ALL activities without exception, and ensured that EVERY teacher and staff member does the same.
He has a passion for writing and researching new ideas and knowledge, and has penned more than 30 books on different subjects. He has presented several papers in various seminars held by Universities. He also has a number of articles published in numerous magazines and journals.
His association with different National and International Boards like IB, CIE and CXC has given him the opportunity to upgrade himself with the global educational system and practices.
Dr. Dutta is an effective Resource Person and has conducted more than 100 workshops, both offline and online, for CBSE Capacity Building Programmes and for several Private Training organizations as well.
Dr. Dutta received the prestigious ‘Best Teacher/Principal of the Year Award’ 2018-19 by CBSE from MHRD in addition to numerous other awards and accolades from different private organizations. He also received the ‘Grandmaster’ certification from Asia Book of Records for releasing an extra-ordinary e-magazine, KPStellar, during the pandemic.