A Digital Generation Gap



Jane Wright, our sales and marketing manager in Mexico, writes:

‘The British Council conference in Bogota, entitled ‘Technology and ELT’ was a fantastic opportunity for teachers to spark their imaginations on how this process of change can be approached in a positive way. They were able to share ideas on how to use and select from the wide range of different options available to them, in order to harness the possibility of online resources for the benefit of their students.

One of the main issues covered was how to support staff through this period of transition and how to make the most of the tools available so that, instead of being perceived as a threat to teachers, they could be seen as a passport to a new and exciting pool of resources. A carefully designed training infrastructure, as well as staff collaboration and support, was seen as paramount.

Teaching a generation of students who, from the day they were born, have been exposed to digital technology, cable television and emails can be a real challenge for those of us who were not trained to think in this way. Engaging the modern mind and equipping students with the skills they require in the real world demands a certain command of ICT. These skills are day-to-day processes for modern learners. It also requires the inspiration to explore how to integrate these tools into everyday teaching methodology. 

The Macmillan English Campus was presented as being one of the most user-friendly virtual learning platforms, with a unique possibility to match it to an already existing programme of work as well as to guide and monitor student progress. The main obstacle of on-line material was highlighted as being the danger of plagiarism and the non-reliability of much of the content available. Guided materials such as MEC were seen to avoid these pitfalls.’

A view over Bogota

Jane’s report highlights the issue of digital immigrants and digital natives. These terms were first coined by Mark Prensky in his 2001 article ‘Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants‘. You may have spotted them in last week’s IATEFL posting. In short, digital natives have grown up surrounded by modern technology while digital immigrants have adopted it at a later point in their lives.

Do you consider yourself digital immigrant or digital native? Do you agree with the accuracy of these terms? What is your attitude towards technology and blended learning? Leave a comment!  

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