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.

Pedagogy for Digital Natives


2 thoughts on “Pedagogy for Digital Natives

  1. Zach,
    What a wonderfully written blog! I can identify with each point that you have made and I couldn’t agree with you more about the different categories of learning that we deal with as educators today. You and I also agree that a mixed or blended approach to teaching and learning is the most beneficial philosophy for educators today, whether they are Digital Natives or Digital Immigrants (Prensky, 2012) as teachers and students. I shared in my blog that Prensky’s (2013) most recent explanation of states of digital awareness now focuses on all people finding “Digital Wisdom” together. Prensky’s (2013) current view of Digital Natives and Digital Immigrants is, “The Digital Natives / Digital Immigrants metaphor is NOT about what people know, or can do, with technology. Everyone has to learn in one way or another. It’s more about culture and attitudes (paras. 4-5).

    I believe this is what you are saying. I responded to you in Tuesday’s post that I consider myself a Digital Immigrant, but one that is further along than many my age. I also think I have more empathy with other Digital Immigrants because I know how it feels to struggle with new strategies and ideas and feel like a relic as a result. How big a part do you think empathy plays in “Digital Wisdom”, and what would be the best method for the instructor in a classroom to help our Digital Natives realize that they still have to learn many things about technology and life and how they work together? How do we teach them or allow them to experience those life skills and coping skills if they aren’t able to develop those feelings of empathy? You do mention Heitner (2014) and that she explains the “mentoring” role as a critical method of determining wisdom in the utilization of technology. I agree! However, I asked myself, is mentoring the only way we can humanize courses and develop these connections with students?

    My biggest take away from the work we have done this week is that it is important that we all learn to work together, with mutual respect, to find “Digital Wisdom”. Thank you for writing such an insightful and thought-provoking blog!

    Heitner, D. (2014, December 18). The challenges of raising a digital native | Devorah Heitner, Ph.D. | TEDxNaperville [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eRQdAOrqvGg
    Prensky, M. R. (2012). From Digital Natives to Digital Wisdom: Hopeful Essays for 21st Century Learning, 1st Edition. [Bookshelf Online]. Retrieved from https://bookshelf.vitalsource.com/#/books/9781452284194/
    Prensky, M. (2013). Your presentation has inspired me. Retrieved from http://marcprensky.com/digital-native/


  2. Alyssa Lehl says:

    Zach, I enjoyed your post immensely. I strongly believe that the Digital Native (Prensky, 2012) student will be highly unmatched with the Digital Immigrant (Prensky, 2012) educator unless there is an equalizing force. That force, in this case, is technology itself. However, without specific and focused training, the Digital Immigrant educator will be surpassed, and the guidance of that educator will have only minimal impact on the student. Throughout the student experience, the technological focus will enhance their experience, both in the specific focus subject and the technology itself, creating a heightened and deeper educational experience.
    There is solid evidence, however, that through the introduction of technology into their training cycle early on and utilizing a mixed methods (or multiple methods) approach during training will assist those teachers to better adapt to the digital native scenario (Kay, 2006). Mentorship and development during their ‘preservice’ phase will also enable educators to be able to develop better formative student relationships through knowledge of technology and the ability to communicate in a more cohesive manner (Kay, 2006).
    Technology is meant to be assistive in the classroom, not replace the teacher. Planning its use carefully and using an integrative, collaborative approach that incorporates social media and other innovative technologies ((Trinder, Guiller, Margaryan, Littlejohn & Nicol, 2008) while ensuring subject matter expertise is readily available will develop a inclusive, adaptable plan that can be utilized throughout classrooms and can span the digital divide between digital natives and their digital immigrant educators.
    Kay, R. H. (2006). Evaluating strategies used to incorporate technology into preservice education: A review of the literature. Journal of research on technology in education, 38(4), 383-408.
    Prensky, M. (2012). From digital natives to digital wisdom: Hopeful essays for 21st century learning. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.
    Trinder, K., Guiller, J., Margaryan, A., Littlejohn, A., & Nicol, D. (2008). Learning from digital natives: bridging formal and informal learning. Higher Education, 1, 1-57. Retrieved from https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/d9d5/e7f2bc53a8ca1f50f7e0f09c485b2448e178.pdf


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