Digital Natives and New-Age ID

While reading the Sims & Koszalka chapter this weekend, I encountered a very familiar term-digital native-and was excited to continue reading on how this term is related to instructional design and developing competencies for the “new-age” designer.  My interest in the difference between digital natives and digital immigrants began in my Master level courses of information science.  Working at a community college spurred this interest because my classes are usually a close blend of the two. Digital natives are individuals born after 1982 that have co-existed with technology since birth.  Digital immigrants are individuals who have adapted to the use of technology.   Prensky (2001) is the individual who first defined these terms.  Prensky suggests the divide disparity between natives and immigrants is the biggest single problem facing education today (Prensky, 2001). A common misconception is that young adult computer users, or digital natives, are technology savvy. A fairly recent study by Hargittai (2010) shows that variation exists when it comes to understanding certain aspects of Internet use (2010). The data presented in this study does not support the argument that digital natives are universally knowledgeable about the Web.

Back to the relationship between digital natives and instructional design.  The Sims & Koszalka (2008) chapter presents an interesting point that these digital natives or new-age learners and the shift toward mobile learning and access provide an environment of constant learning.  The current generation of instructional designers needs to develop competencies that emphasize that technologies are tools to think and learn (2008).   The social nature of learning with technology and the use of tools in a communicative way is a part of this.  An example is the use of blogs and social media for collaborating.  The Hargittai (2010) study is one of several studies I discovered when researching the variation in the understanding of Internet use and Web knowledge.   The use of competency standards in instructional design is vital because of the knowledge and continued study of this variation.  This research interest (digital native vs. digital immigrant and the variation in Web/Internet knowledge levels) continues to surface in many readings, which makes me believe it is still a relevant topic for continued study.

Hargittai, E. (2010). Digital na(t)ives? Variation in Internet skills and uses among members of the ‘net generation.’ Sociological Inquiry, 80(1), 92-113. doi: 10.1111/j.1475-682X.2009.00317.x

Prensky, M. (2001). Digital natives digital immigrants.  On the Horizon, 9(5), 1-6). Retrieved from:,%20digital%20immigrants%20-%20part1.pd

Sims, R.C. & Koszalka, T.A. (2008) Competencies for the new-age instructional designer.

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