We are all aware that Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) are making inroads and entering each and every sector of our society, including educational institutions, an area in which ICT has become a means of educational innovation.
Educators and students are currently facing a “galaxy of technologies” (Cabrero Almenara 2010), which allow educators to break down barriers that include space-time, among others. A galaxy that is governed by the Internet, a great current competitor to textbooks, which opens the doors to information, to sharing personal visions and also to transmitting knowledge.
Today’s classrooms are full of technology, although it is true that there is a great “digital divide” (Cabrero Almenara 2004), the reality is not the same in all schools, institutes or centres, nor in all countries. Even so, many of them replace traditional blackboards with projectors and other technological resources in their classrooms.
So, if there are so many technologies, what is the problem, and where does this fear of ICT come from? Mark Prensky presents a possible answer to this question in 2001, with the difference between “Digital Natives” and “Digital Immigrants”. The world is changing, and so should education: “Our students have changed radically. Today’s students are no longer the people our educational system was designed to teach. (Prensky 2001).
These individuals are the first generations to be born surrounded by computers, video games and technologies in general, making digital language their native language. This makes their way of thinking completely different from that of previous generations, which creates a significant gap when it comes to speaking the same language. Here is the problem, these Digital Immigrants do not believe that their students can study in front of ICT because they cannot (they were not born surrounded by ICT, they are not used to it) (Prensky 2001). This leads them to keep the same educational methods that were applied to them, missing great learning opportunities for these Digital Natives.
So, is it the Digital Natives who must give up their way of thinking, or is it the Digital Immigrants who must adapt? The first option will largely involve forgetting to educate these individuals until they are old enough to educate themselves. The second option will simply consider introducing these new media into the classroom.
This option is straightforward, as there are now a wide variety of video games or interactive experiences focused on education. When a student interacts with his or her environment, plays games and even has fun, he or she will internalise more of the content received (Sanford & Madill 2007; Schaaf 2012).
Therefore, we must lose the fear of ICT in education, and start to see it as a way to improve it. Educating with and for ICT.
Cabero Almenara, Julio. «Los retos de la integración de las TICs en los procesos educativos. Límites y posibilidades». Perspectiva Educacional, Formación de Profesores, 2010.
Prensky, Marc. «Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants». On the Horizon, October 2001.
Prensky, Marc. «Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants Part 2». On the Horizon, December 2001.
Sanford, Kathy, y Leanna Madill. «Understanding the Power of New Literacies through Video Game Play and Design». Canadian Journal of Education, 2007.