Digital Natives, Learner Perceptions and the Use of ICT

Digital Natives, Learner Perceptions and the Use of ICT

George R. MacLean (Tsukuba University, Japan) and James A. Elwood (Tsukuba University, Japan)
Copyright: © 2009 |Pages: 24
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60566-190-2.ch009
OnDemand PDF Download:


Prensky (2001) posited the emergence of a new generation of “digital natives” fluent in the language of cyberspace and familiar with the tools of user-generated content. If correct, the existence of this group would necessitate a thorough reconsideration of pedagogy to meet their radically different learning needs, which dovetail with the nascent Web 2.0 and its communities of users. The study examined in this chapter addressed a series of questions about the implications of digital natives in Japan, and found contemporary users of technology to be in firm control of only a limited number of skills. Learner use and perception of technology appeared to be mediated by several variables: technological proficiency or the lack thereof, tradition, willingness to use technology (WUT), and gender. The research instruments utilized in this chapter were analyzed and found to be psychometrically adequate. It is argued that these categories and scales will provide a useful resource for further attempts to understand the potential of Web 2.0 and the concept of the digital native in other educational traditions and contexts.
Chapter Preview


In a sequence familiar to millions of readers of Dr. Seuss, a nameless, behatted gentlemen is persuaded over the course of a book to answer that timeless question: Would you eat green eggs and ham? Sam, a most persistent sort, pursues our nameless hero through thick and thin, finally achieving his goal after a spectacular train crash that leaves the crew and passengers soaking wet. As many 5-year-olds (and, of course, adults) can attest, the green eggs and ham are a smashing success. Central to this study was a similar question, specifically about learners’ use and perceptions of technology in classrooms. Computers have now been a part of many people’s lives for a full generation, leading to what Prensky (2001) termed “digital natives” and “digital immigrants.” In Prensky’s formulation — analogous to what happens in language acquisition — natives grow up immersed in and thereby acquire their first language (L1) and culture (C1), which in Prensky’s paradigm are digital language and culture. Those not fortunate enough to have that immersion experience can never completely acquire that L1 and C1, retaining instead a “digital accent” much as geographical immigrants do when learning a second language (L2) and culture (C2).

Moreover, Prensky points to the problems inherent in having non-native instructors in charge of education in the digital language. He suggests that digital-native students are fundamentally different to traditional (i.e., non-digital-native) students and thus require a new pedagogy. As an example, Prensky suggests that digital natives are used to receiving information quickly, multi-tasking, and parallel processing. Immigrants, however, are used to slower information, uni-tasking, and linear processing, and digital-immigrant teachers thus expect students to deal with tasks in a more traditional fashion that does not suit many of them well.

In the sphere of second language learning, this hypothesis appears at least superficially true. Even today, in many pedagogical situations learners and teachers alike fail to utilize technology effectively, if at all, in spite of its immense promise. Web 2.0, for example, moves beyond the static delivery of information or tasks such as publishing in a traditional sense, which is simply the public presentation of one’s work. While presenting a work is an important pedagogical step (Bruner, 1986) and underpinned Web 1.0, it pales in comparison to the possibilities offered by Web 2.0. The nascent Internet or Web 1.0 was and remains similar to a textbook in being an inert object devoid of meaning until acted upon or engaged with, whereas the interaction of a person or people with that book (Web 2.0) yields something far from inert or meaningless. That basic premise, what O’Reilly (2005) termed the creation of a community, finds an appropriate equivalent in L2 acquisition theory in Holliday’s (1999) “small cultures,” which refer to groups of individuals with shared interests. In O’Reilly’s (2005) delightful words, “a conversational mess of overlapping communities” emerges, illustrating the basic, interactive premise of Web 2.0.

Against this tapestry of immense albeit nascent potential, the question persists of how educators are progressing in fulfilling that vast promise. With Internet access, digital natives as students, and beleaguered digital immigrants as instructors, why is technology used sparingly, inefficiently, or ineffectively? Answers may lie with instructors that simply do not speak the language of digital natives as Prensky suggested, or those answers might lie elsewhere. Limited availability of and proficiency with technological media may inhibit tapping the potential of the Internet and its Web 2.0 components. Moreover, recent research suggests that the much-heralded generation of digital natives may in fact be very minimally proficient speakers of this new web language (e.g., Bennett, Maton, & Kervin, in press; Kennedy, Krause, Judd, Churchward & Gray, 2006; Kvavik, 2005; Kvavik, Caruso & Morgan, 2004). In short, contemporary students may lack skills with technology or the propensity toward using it.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Digital Technology: Entails the use of devices that enable access to cyberspace, the use of digital audio/video and information communications technology (ICT).

Mobile Learning (m-learning): The use of devices that are small enough to fit comfortably in a pocket or purse for educational purposes

Digital Native: Is a person who is growing up, or has grown up with digital technology.

Digital Immigrant: Is an individual who grew up without digital technology and adopted it later.

Technology Preference: Indicates a user’s preferred device or medium, given a range of choices

WUT: Refers to Willingness to Use Technology. A person’s willingness to make use of technology when given the choice of a technological medium or a non-technological medium

Technological Experience: Indicates the extent of a user’s self-reported experience using technology

Computer Anxiety: Feelings of frustration or unease related to the use of computers

Complete Chapter List

Search this Book:
Editorial Advisory Board
Table of Contents
Mark Warschauer
Michael Thomas
Michael Thomas
Chapter 1
Michael Vallance, Kay Vallance, Masahiro Matsui
The grand narrative of educational policy statements lack clear guidelines on Information Communications Technology (ICT) integration. A review of... Sample PDF
Criteria for the Implementation of Learning Technologies
Chapter 2
Mark Pegrum
This chapter discusses the application of a range of Web 2.0 technologies to language education. It argues that Web 2.0 is fundamentally about... Sample PDF
Communicative Networking and Linguistic Mashups on Web 2.0
Chapter 3
Bernd Rüschoff
Current thinking in SLA methodology favours knowledge construction rather than simple instructivist learning as an appropriate paradigm for language... Sample PDF
Output-Oriented Language Learning With Digital Media
Chapter 4
Infoxication 2.0  (pages 60-79)
Elena Benito-Ruiz
This chapter reviews the issue of information overload, introducing the concept of “infoxication 2.0” as one of the main downsides to Web 2.0. The... Sample PDF
Infoxication 2.0
Chapter 5
Margaret Rasulo
The aim of this chapter is to discuss the effectiveness and the necessity of forming a community when engaged in online learning. The Internet and... Sample PDF
The Role of Community Formation in Learning Processes
Chapter 6
Tony Mullen, Christine Appel, Trevor Shanklin
An important aspect of the Web 2.0 phenomenon is the use of Web-embedded and integrated non-browser Internet applications to facilitate... Sample PDF
Skype-Based Tandem Language Learning and Web 2.0
Chapter 7
Gary Motteram, Susan Brown
Web 2.0 offers potentially powerful tools for the field of language education. As language teacher tutors exploring Web 2.0 with participants on an... Sample PDF
A Context-Based Approach to Web 2.0 and Language Education
Chapter 8
Lut Baten, Nicolas Bouckaert, Kan Yingli
This case study describes how a project-based approach offers valuable new opportunities for graduate students to equip them with the necessary... Sample PDF
The Use of Communities in a Virtual Learning Environment
Chapter 9
George R. MacLean, James A. Elwood
Prensky (2001) posited the emergence of a new generation of “digital natives” fluent in the language of cyberspace and familiar with the tools of... Sample PDF
Digital Natives, Learner Perceptions and the Use of ICT
Chapter 10
Steve McCarty
In a cross-cultural educational context of TEFL in Japan, the author sought to enhance the integrative motivation of students toward the target... Sample PDF
Social Networking Behind Student Lines in Japan
Chapter 11
Antonie Alm
This chapter discusses the use of blogs for foreign and second language (L2) learning. It first outlines the suitability of blogs for language... Sample PDF
Blogging for Self-Determination with L2 Learner Journals
Chapter 12
Revathi Viswanathan
Training ESL students in soft skills and employability skills with the help of Web 2.0 technologies is the current trend in Indian educational... Sample PDF
Using Mobile Technology and Podcasts to Teach Soft Skills
Chapter 13
Andy Halvorsen
This chapter looks at the potential use of Social Networking Sites (SNSs) for educators and second language learners. It views SNSs broadly through... Sample PDF
Social Networking Sites and Critical Language Learning
Chapter 14
Nicolas Gromik
This chapter reports on an ongoing project conducted at Tohoku University in Sendai, Japan. A mixed group of seven advanced EFL learners produced... Sample PDF
Producing Cell Phone Video Diaries
Chapter 15
Thomas Raith
This chapter explores in how far Web 2.0, Weblogs in particular, has changed foreign language learning. It argues that Weblogs, along with Web 2.0... Sample PDF
The Use of Weblogs in Language Education
Chapter 16
Nat Carney
This chapter gives a comprehensive overview of blogs in Foreign Language Education (FLE) through reviewing literature, critically analyzing... Sample PDF
Blogging in Foreign Language Education
Chapter 17
Pete Travis, Fiona Joseph
In particular, this chapter looks at the potential role of Web 2.0 technologies and podcasting to act as a transformational force within language... Sample PDF
Improving Learners' Speaking Skills with Podcasts
Chapter 18
Volker Hegelheimer, Anne O’Bryan
The increasing availability of mobile technologies is allowing users to interact seamlessly with a variety of content anytime, anywhere. One of... Sample PDF
Mobile Technologies, Podcasting and Language Education
Chapter 19
Jenny Ang Lu
This chapter aims to investigate how podcasts can be made to fit into the repertoire of resources utilized by teachers, especially in language... Sample PDF
Podcasting as a Next Generation Teaching Resource
Chapter 20
Matthias Sturm, Trudy Kennell, Rob McBride, Mike Kelly
Web 2.0 tools like blogs, Wikis, and podcasts are new to the vocabulary of language acquisition. Teachers and students who take full advantage of... Sample PDF
The Pedagogical Implications of Web 2.0
Chapter 21
John Paul Loucky
This study describes a task-based assessment (TBA) approach to teaching reading and writing online. It then analyzes key factors emerging from the... Sample PDF
Improving Online Readability in a Web 2.0 Context
Chapter 22
Jaroslaw Krajka
This chapter contrasts the use of corpora and concordancing in the Web 1.0 era with the opportunities presented to the language teachers by the Web... Sample PDF
Concordancing 2.0: On Custom-Made Corpora in the Classroom
Chapter 23
Darren Elliott
This chapter looks at the ways in which teacher training and teacher development are taking place online. It seeks to address the ways in which... Sample PDF
Internet Technologies and Language Teacher Education
Chapter 24
Sarah Guth
This chapter discusses the potential of social software and Web 2.0 tools to enhance language learning in a blended learning context. It describes... Sample PDF
Personal Learning Environments for Language Learning
Chapter 25
Shudong Wang, Neil Heffernan
This chapter introduces the concept of Mobile 2.0, a mobile version of Web 2.0, and its application to language learning. The chapter addresses the... Sample PDF
Mobile 2.0 and Mobile Language Learning
Chapter 26
Euline Cutrim Schmid
The first part of this chapter discusses the transformative potential of Interactive Whiteboards (IWBs), by analyzing the opportunities of using... Sample PDF
The Pedagogical Potential of Interactive Whiteboards 2.0
Chapter 27
David Miller, Derek Glover
This chapter summarizes the work underway to chart, critically evaluate, and systematize the introduction of interactive whiteboards (IWB) into... Sample PDF
Interactive Whiteboards in the Web 2.0 Classroom
Chapter 28
Samuel Holtzman
The process of technological inclusion begins with an analysis of the features and functions of the specific tool in consideration. Pedagogy should... Sample PDF
Web 2.0 and CMS for Second Language Learning
About the Contributors