Prensky (2012) explains the complexity behind the question “what is learning” (p. 36) and despite our ability to truly define it, given the many variations of the definition from different disciplines, “the people from educational research, educational methods, pedagogy, instructional design, learning science, cognition and instruction, cognitive psychology, behavioral psychology, educational psychology, human factors, training, child development, linguistics, neuro-linguistics, biology, computer science, neuroscience, and cognitive neurology” we lack a definitive answer” (Prensky, 2012, p. 36). The issue with this lack of coherence or consistency, we also see varying pedagogical styles, perspectives, and ultimately beliefs that create varying methods and directions in which to take the student. We also see a lack in role identification on behalf of the teacher and the student. Is it any wonder why the field of education has such mixed approaches and methods?
Learning happens through the mind of the individual learner. The individual context of the learner, their history, and their experiences creates an opinion or value towards information and drastically effects the manner in which they approach, receive, transmit, convey, organize, and regurgitate the information. Prensky (2012) explains that, “From a cognitive point of view, any complex human activity almost always involves an intricate interplay among different kinds of knowledge, perceptual discriminations, motor and cognitive skills, strategies and performance demands or contexts. Correspondingly, many kinds of learning are involved, and they are not all achieved in the same way” (p. 42).
It would serve the student well to realize that, despite the title of Digital Native, students learn best through a mixed methods approach. That is, the more variance in methods used will create a stronger opportunity to educate more learners. As educators develop an identity of themselves, they are eventually able to also identify manners is which they learn best. It is reasonable to assume, that given the transition into a higher technically driven society, that utilization of technology to optimize student learning would be considered wise. Prensky (2012) asks why we should be so concerned with introducing technology into our education system and the answer is quite simple. “In an unimaginable complex future, the unenhanced person…will no longer be able to keep up with an enhanced human….In the future, our young people won’t have the necessary competitive wisdom without it” (p. 202).
The ability to use technology and the wisdom behind the reason or method in which to use the technology are two entirely different things. Inevitably, the role of creating wisdom in the utilization of technology will fall to the relationship between the student and the teacher. Heitner (2014) explains the “mentoring” role as a critical method of determining wisdom in the utilization of technology. To know limits, manners in approach, and even the experience of others can be enlightening and impactful for the student. Many Digital Immigrants face a stronger battle in identifying and accepting the role that technology plays in the life of a student, but as these immigrants become more accepting of the use of technology to transcend informational barriers, it will allot them the opportunity to develop more in depth relationships with the students. This will inevitably allow technology to assess and evaluate student levels of knowledge, while utilizing the teacher in manners in which to address areas of strength and weakness within the student.
The role of the teacher is something that will need to change in order for students to utilize the resources that will strengthen their competitiveness in the global market. As the role of teacher moves back to its Socratic start, we will inevitably see a stronger responsibility of learning placed on the student and the role of the teacher will be seen as a mentor guiding the more introspective thought processes that create more meaningful—deeply rooted learning.
Heitner, D. (2014). The challenges of raising a digital native [Video]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eRQdAOrqvGg
Prensky, M. (2012). From digital natives to digital wisdom: Hopeful essays for 21st century learning. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.