Response: Examining Generational Differences

To use Prensky’s descriptor, I would consider myself a Digital Native. While I was still born before the iPod and I have nightmares of the dialup internet sound, I still had technology available to me almost my whole life. We owned a computer growing up, I had a Gameboy, and I received my first cell phone when I was 16 years old. Now, if you were to compare my childhood filled with Tamagotchis, Walkmans, and the internet, to my parents, it would be different. My mother and father both came from middle class families and had loving and exciting childhoods that were not full of digital tools at all. Their experiences were different then me, but not better or worse, and both have many similarities. We all played outside with our friends, we all talked on the phone, watched TV, and went to school. The only real difference is that I had computers and wifi and they did not. Now that we are all adults, all of us, mom and dad included, are all technology literate. Both my parents use technology extensively in their work and are often teaching me things. (Thank you for Google help mom!) My parents would fall under the Digital Immigrant category however I never hear their accent. They have learned, as have I, how to incorporate the ever changing digital technology that is available to us and I honestly have never thought about it as us being different at all.

Now, when I think about this with my students, I do see some changes between my childhood and theirs. They all carry computers in their pockets now instead of them being posted up in the family-room with your parents hovering over your shoulder watching what you’re searching. All of my students are in constant contact with each other via text, call, Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, and the thousands of other apps they use. I was only in contact from my parents house phone and even when I got a cell phone I only had texting available to me with limited messages. There are differences, but are these bad or good or neither?

When it comes to teaching our digital literate students I do think that we should take some changes into consideration. I think this is a beautiful time to link past techniques with present and see what creative learning opportunities teachers can create. Teaching needs to be dynamic and adapt to current trends and models, but that does not mean that it needs to turn into something unrecognizable. Some of the teachers that I work with are scared of the new 1-1 initiative my district is adopting in the fall. They are telling me that they don’t want to have to change all of the things that they have done for the last 20 years that work! So I keep telling them, don’t! If you truly believe that what you are using to teach your students is the best thing for them and that adding digital technology is not going to improve it then don’t change it. This usually comes with some surprise, but then a really great discussion afterward about how using the new computers might actually improve a few lessons or we might come up with some creative new ideas that hadn’t been thought of before. Teachers do not need to reinvent the wheel, they can use the methods of the past with the tools of the present to teach to an exciting group of young students who already have abilities the world needs.

6 thoughts on “Response: Examining Generational Differences

  1. tecchick says:

    Ryann,

    I completely agree with the idea you present in your blog post that teachers should keep what’s working for them while implementing technology and making some changes. I think you were brilliant in your interaction with the teacher’s who are trepidatious to adopt the 1-1 initiative. By assuring them that they didn’t have to change if they didn’t want to, you put them in an open state instead of on the defensive. I believe our best chance for success is to come together and take pieces from both worlds (immigrants and natives) to create something new and effective that works with today’s student. You said it perfectly when you said, ” I think this is a beautiful time to link past techniques with present and see what creative learning opportunities teachers can create.” We need compromise and give and take.

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  2. kristingaynor says:

    Hi Ryann,
    I think you have a great perspective of this week’s topic because you have parents that are not immigrants with a “thick accent.” I find, in my family, the accent is pretty strong. My family isn’t familiar with common technology tools, and often looks to me for help. While I don’t mind this in any way, it definitely aligns with Prensky’s description! My school went 1:1 last year, and the older teachers or teachers who were less comfortable with technology were very resistant. Many did not use laptops in their lessons. However, I would say that as the year progressed, more got comfortable with small integrations. I always tell teachers to try it when they are ready, and I always offer my ideas and tools that I use.
    Thanks for sharing!

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    • rwaldmanblog says:

      That is so great to hear that the hesitant teachers got more comfortable as the year went on and started incorporating the technology little by little. I hope some of my coworkers start to feel comfortable enough to come to me for help with ideas!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Brittni Darrington says:

    I agree with the comment above that the way you handle teachers who are skeptical or hesitant toward technology is very smart. I think the majority of people tend to resist when they feel something is being forced upon them. If we help teachers see that they do not have to completely change and use technology in every single lesson but rather just where it might improve a lesson, many of them will be more open to the idea. Thanks for your thoughts!

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    • rwaldmanblog says:

      It is hard for anyone to change something that they have been doing for a long time. Through in a learning curve with the tech and it makes it even harder. Solid PD and slow integration is key for getting teachers willing to adapt their classrooms!

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