Monday, June 29, 2015

Boyd Vs. Wesch- Interesting perspectives on what it means to be a "digital native"

Danah Boyd brings a truly interesting perspective to the term "digital native." In chapter 7 of her book, It's Complicated, Boyd breaks down some of the assumptions and implications that come along with the digital native terminology. She offers an interesting perspective, claiming that not all students are as technologically savvy as we may think. Boyd says that teachers need to reconsider their approach when it comes to teaching kids about how to use digital media. One glaring problem, according to Boyd, is that all students have not been taught how to appropriately decipher the information they are consuming online. Often students do not know how to differentiate a reputable source from others that may not be as scholarly.

Boyd uses the example of Google, stating that many children and adults don't realize that Google is a for-profit company with many different people (and robots) working behind the scenes to produce search results. The author argues that if we neglect to teach students about how to make sense of the media they are seeing on a day to day basis, we are robbing them of a tremendously valuable education. To assume that all kids know how to use technology as a learning tool is naive and beyond unfortunate. Boyd argues that we need to establish a way of teaching students to be more analytical when it comes to their use of online sources. 

Mike Wesch, a digital commons blogger, makes many of the same points as Boyd. He argues that we no longer need to supply students with knowledge, but rather, we need to help students understand how to use the knowledge available to them. Similar to Boyd, Wesch argues that students need to learn analysis and meaning-making skills. They need to learn to interpret the texts presented.

The point at which these two authors diverge is in the recognization of the fact that students from varying socioeconomic backgrounds come into class with more or less experience using technology in their every day lives. Wesch seems to assume that all students will come into class as tech-savvy learners, well equipped with the materials and experience necessary to take the next steps. Boyd argues that students who come from more privileged backgrounds have a greater starting point and a great advantage, but many less-privileged students are still in a place where they don't know how to create a Word document, etc. Boyd recognizes the diversity of student's experiences, whereas Wesch fails to do so. 

From my own experience in a rural/suburban school district,  I find that Boyd has many points that resonate strongly with me. I have students who come from very privileged families and have access to all types of technology. However, I also have students who come from homes where they don't have access to a computer or smartphone. I've had students who don't know how to open a Word document. So I see both ends of the spectrum. After some reflection, I would have to say that the term "digital native" is too general and fails to consider the diverse backgrounds of students. Additionally, I would say that I have to agree with both authors when it comes to the need to teach students to think critically about the media they are consuming. I think this applies to all types of media (not just social media). I'm left wondering how I can do more to incorporate these needs into my own instruction...

1 comment:

  1. I agree that we need to consider what technlology experiences and expertise our children really have.It's one thing to have technology and its another to see what is actually being done with it. Just like schools claim we have tons of technology when we actually do not.

    I love how you added a title page and images. I'll have to think of that next time.