“The war is over, the natives won!” – Marc Prensky

I had the pleasure of attending the ISTE (International Society for Technology in Education) conference in 2012 and had the pleasure of hearing Marc Prensky speak. While he gave his speech, he spoke about the differences between Digital Immigrants and Digital Natives and their relationship to education. He then stated, “The war is over, the natives won!” in that we can no longer continue doing things the way we are used to doing them.  We must adapt and change how and what we teach in the fast paced world that the Digital Natives are born into.

Reading his article, Shaping Tech for the Classroom, the four steps to technology adoption resonated most with me. Prensky lists that the four steps are:

  • Dabbling.
  • Doing old things in old ways.
  • Doing old things in new ways.
  • Doing new things in new ways.

This made me reflect on what I do as a teacher in my classroom.  I’m clearly a Digital Immigrant, and I definitely start new things by Dabbling, and adjusting what I do in the classroom based on new resources and technologies that are available for me.  I thought I was doing pretty well in teaching digital natives.  I’m not so sure anymore.  I think of the different projects and classroom practices that I adapted are i the “Doing old things in new ways.”

As I am a visual learner, I looked for infographics that helps me better understand the world we live in in relation to technology.  Here’s what I found:

By Wesley Fryer
By Wesley Fryer

Wesley Fryer illustrates the “Digital Landscape” on his blog, Moving at the Speed of Creativity. So, where do I stand? I’m definitely not a Digital Native (I’m not young enough) and I’m not a Digital Refugee (I try to stay informed and not shy away from it). I’m probably somewhere in between the Digital Voyeur and a participating Digital Immigrant, so that probably makes me a Bridge person.

Then, my thought went to: as a Bridge person who is striving to be a participating Digital Immigrant, how can I teach my students who are Digital Natives? How can I break free from doing old things in new ways and move into doing new things in new ways? I think the answer for me lies in the students that I work with.  What if I were able to relinquish more control over how I teach something to the students? What if they become the drivers of my classroom, no, our classroom? I think this will be the way in which I will be able to learn from the students to be a teacher of digital natives. Sure, as my students are still in the elementary school, they will need some guidance, but creating a class culture where the students can teach everyone in the class (including me) to deepen our knowledge in anything, would be a tremendous step forward.



4 thoughts on ““The war is over, the natives won!” – Marc Prensky

  1. Hi Akio,

    I’m so impressed with the look of your blog. I need to spend more time messing around with mine to get it to look as dynamic as yours. Well done!

    Are you familiar with the SAMR model? (http://www.hippasus.com/rrpweblog/archives/2013/10/02/SAMR_ABriefIntroduction.pdf) If so, what do you see as differences between Prensky’s model and SAMR?

    It seems to me that Prensky’s #3) Doing old things in new ways and #4) Doing new things in new ways may be quite a bit like Modification and Redefinition.

    Your thoughts?

  2. Great post! Thanks for the insight on Marc Prensky’s talk and the picture by Wesley Fryer. I came to the same conclusion about turning over more control to the students and trusting them more. Trust can be a powerful action in the classroom and the students respond to it.

  3. Akio,

    I share a lot of the questions that you have about how to approach teaching my high school students. These are intelligent, affluent kids who have extremely high expectations. Most are Taiwanese, and I find myself struggling to teach them “new things in new ways” (which is what they want) but to be sure that I’m balancing that with teaching them many of the “old things” that their parents seem to still strongly value.

    These days, I feel most confident in my teaching ability when I introduce them to a technology that I haven’t seen before. Most of the time when I introduce a new project or tech tool, they say, “Oh yeah, we did this in Mr. So-and_So’s class.” or “Yeah, we did that at my last school.” And of course, I think, “Damn! That means they’re going to be bored!”

    But every now and then I do impress them with something new or something they haven’t done before in Mr. So-and-So’s class…And I’m really proud of myself.

    I fully agree with your question about what would happen if we relinquish control as teachers. Some of my students’ most meaningful and impressive work has come out of me assigning projects with very little direct instruction. I tell them what is required in the finished product (and whether it’s a video, an e-book, a presentation, an audio file, etc.) and then I let them use whatever technology they want to use to create it. Because they’re natives with so many options at their fingertips, they use what they like to use and then I’m the one who always ends up impressed (and very humbled!). So I think that relinquishing control is definitely the way to go these days.

    Take care,


  4. Love the transition from “my” classroom to “our” classroom! I agree that is one of the easiest (and most fun) ways to try doing new things in new ways. Often students will suggest an idea that I would never have thought of and it works just as well, if not better, than what I’ve designed. Looking forward to seeing how this works out for you!

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