A Critique Critiqued




We read a critique of the binary of ‘Digital Natives’ and ‘Digital Immigrants by Sian Bayne and Jen Ross. In preparation we were asked to read the introduction to John Palfrey’s ‘Born Digital’; which introduced the ‘digital settlers’ into the perspective.


The article was incredibly critical of the ‘over-simplistic’ implications of the recently coined terms, ‘Digital Natives’ and ‘Digital Immigrants’. It delivered its points fittingly, showing that there is a lot more to consider than simply labeling people with digital privileges based on age alone. But it did so however using complicated language, which made its points concise but difficult to understand on a thin vocabulary. It is clear with frequent reference to professionals in higher education that the article was intended at the academics in higher education, which proves to be a perfect excuse for the language used.


The points themselves made for a more accurate interpretation of the digital age. By labeling those born before the 1980’s as ‘Digital Immigrants’ completely ignores the adaption of teachers in higher education; by stating them as both ‘unable to change’ and being ‘required to change’ is a clear contradiction. The article offers the view that teachers do adapt to their surroundings; not to remain competent and employable, but because they are interested in offering the best learning for students. An excellent example is how universities now communicate through websites like moodle, and offer laptops not only as incentive to join the course, but also to enhance the productivity of their study. It is evident through personal experience studying Photography at Coventry University that the ‘Digital Immigrants’ are not dependent on analogue technologies, the teachers are well adapted to the evolution in the digital age, even more so than me as a ‘Digital Native’.


Clearly Bayne and Ross have a valid argument, because it is a far too simplistic binary which leads to stereotypes and ill researched opinions, that underestimates the skills of university lecturers, and more universally, professionals who use computers.


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