Exploring Technology Professional Development Needs of Digital Immigrant Teachers and Digital Native Teachers in China

Exploring Technology Professional Development Needs of Digital Immigrant Teachers and Digital Native Teachers in China

Yi Li (Southwest University, China), Qiu Wang (Syracuse University, USA) and Jing Lei (Syracuse University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/IJICTE.2020070102


This study examined if professional development needs of digital natives and immigrant teachers differed for technology integration in a Chinese education setting. Quantitative and qualitative data was collected from 500 teachers at six schools in China. The digital native teachers and immigrant teachers were compared in terms of their different technology use behaviors and integration skills. The findings indicated that even though the digital native teachers had greater comfort with basic technology than the digital immigrant teachers, they still required training for effective integration of technology in their teaching. The digital immigrant teachers needed more basic technology operations training connections between technologies and teaching. Future technology professional developments in developing countries should: 1) consider the different needs of digital native teachers and digital immigrant teachers; 2) prepare them to make meaningful connections between technologies and their teachings; and 3) adopt individual coaching with on-site designated specialists.
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2. Literature Review

The concept of digital generation gap was first proposed by Prensky (2001a), who identified two demographic groups based on the level of technology immersion. The digital natives were people born after 1980, grew up immersed in technologies, and thus possessed a high level of ability to use technologies; and the digital immigrants were those born before 1980, grew up without modern information and communication technologies and as a result lacked the experiences and or ability to use technology (Prensky, 2001a; Ransdell, Kent, Gaillard- Kenney, & Long, 2011). Prensky (2001b) pointed out digital natives were comfortable, confident, and more positive towards technology use than digital immigrants because they grew up with easy access to computers, the Internet and other ubiquitous ICT devices. On the other hand, digital immigrants have seen an emergence of new technologies, and had to interact with them later in their lives. They learnt to adapt the new technology environment, and they retained, to some degree, their traditional habits (Prensky, 2001b).

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