Tony Gurr

Posts Tagged ‘digital natives’

When DIGITAL Natives… ‘Sleep’!

In Adult Learners, News & Updates (from the CBO), Technology on 19/03/2014 at 10:39 am


I have been working far too hard these past few weeks – and, as we all know;

All work, and no play…makes Tony Hoca a “dull” boy!

Tony Hoca (new avatar)


This weekend, I did a little webinar for those lovely boys and girls (all girls, actually!) over at The Spring Blog Festival – and talked about my own visual literacy “journey”.

I’m still getting the hang of this “webinar busyness” – time just whizzed by and I had so much fun doing it! And, to boot – I made some new cyber-playmates”




THANK YOUNellie Hocam, Shelly Hocam and Slyvia Hocam 😉


Doing that session (at 22:00 on a Sunday nite!) really helped me remember how important it is to thunk about visual literacy – in my bloggery…and my life in general:



…but sometimes that “little boy” can go too far!

Camera…software…editing “time”:


When digital natives go to sleep (TG ver)

When digital immigrants go to sleep (TG ver)

…on the sofa TONITE, I guess!


Have a GREAT day!


Bridging the DIGITAL DIVIDE – starting with “ourselves”

In Technology, Uncategorized on 14/04/2011 at 6:28 pm

In the last post (a couple of days ago – you can see I have been busy), I asked you all to listen to “Two Tribes” from Frankie Goes To Hollywood

…and think about the…

OK, I was actually more interested in showing how today’s students are not simply focussed on “technology-for-technology’s-sake”but rather how technology is helping them evolve into a new form of “bi-lingual”.

These new bi-lingualsin addition to having their brains re-wired by the toys they play with – now speak both DFL (Digital as a First Language) and LFL (Learning as a First Language).

I also noted that most of us teachers (and the institutions we work for)while we may be more experienced in “allthingslife” – speak (more often than not)  DSL (Digital as a Second Language) and TFL (Teaching as a First Language).

It’s true that many of us are “tech-savvy” (just look at some of the great EduTech blogs out there these days) – but the bottom line is that our profession is dominated by technological minimalists, tourists and reluctant adopters.

Changing this situation is toughafterall, “digital immigrants” cannot be re-born as “digital natives” (well, at least not in this lifetime)…

The real challenge is that the BIGGEST difference between our two divided “tribes” is not our respective technology habits or attitudes towards the digital world – but our approach to LEARNing.

This challenge is tougherteachers cannot “unlearn” everything they know about how to “do business” in the classroom over night. In fact, would we want them to unlearn everything?

Of course, not.

What is clear, however, is that something has to change – and we have to tackle the growing divide between what Guy Claxton refers to as the “old 4Rs” and the “newer 4Rs”.

I also posed the question (from Zur and Zur):

What type of cultural anthropology and appropriate adjustments do we need to think about in education?

Many institutions (I think) recognise the importance of this process of “adaptation”. Many of our schools, colleges and universities all know (I hope) that this bridge needs to be built on processes of adaptation that touch on:

  • Leadership & Culture (Departments & Institutions)
  • Curriculum & Assessment
  • Facilities & Equipment

Sadly, most seem to focus exclusively on the thirdthe easiest option – and “buy in” projectors, smartboards and even iPads without paying much attention to the other critical components. They seem to be oblivious to the fact that you cannot bridge a technologically-enabled linguistic and cultural revolution with “hardware” alone.

Changes to curriculum and assessment begin with “people” – as do changes with leadership and culture. This means that the best way to bridge the gap is to focus on:

  • The “student-eye-view”
  • Individual Teachers

The most important people – in education!

The paradox is that it is exactly the fact that cultural and organisational change rely on “people” – and that it is “people” who are most likely to get in the way of cultural and organisational change.

In recent weeks, I have been travelling around conferences and have noticed the interest that a large number of teachers have in sessions that focus on Web 2.0, classroom blogging, Facebook and allthingstechnology.

Teachers are flocking to these sessions and workshops in their hundreds.

However, whenever I chat to these teachers (usually after the sessions) – they are, more often than not, critical that the technology-based sessions they are going to do not talk about teaching, do not talk about teaching relationships and end up “teaching” them very little.

Students (of the “digital native” variety), on the other hand, do not go to these workshops. They sit at home, play around with new software or applications, chat online with their friends about their difficulties – and emerge a few hours later as “experts”.

Students, it would appear have that (very American) “can-do attitude” (I am a Brit and I know this all too well – by its absence). They get on an do itthey learn-by-doing, through “intuitive” problem-solving, and adopt a “just-in-time” perspective to direct experimentation.

They speak LFL – and they do just fine without a teacher. If they do want a teacher, they choose their own…

Talking of teachers – the other thing I notice, when I chat with teachers about technology, is the huge amount of:

…that teachers seem to beat themselves up on.

Again, we do not seem to have that “can-do” attitude typical of so many “digital natives”.

I think we can learn a great deal from those who speak LFLwe can learn more about “creativity when learning” (and teaching), we can learn that “teaching” does not equal “learning” and we can learn that attitude (not technology) is half the battle.

It is not teaching (nor technology) alone that will bridge the gap between the two tribes. It is recognition that…

When TWO TRIBES go to “war” – Thoughts on the “Digital Divide”.

In Bilingualism, Classroom Teaching, Technology on 11/04/2011 at 1:10 pm

To get the best from today’s post, you really need to play a certain Frankie Goes To Hollywood track in the background, as you read…and there I go showing my “age” again!

But, I would choose an MP4 version – just to show my “big, little girl” that her daddy is “cool”, too!

Marc Prenski first introduced us to the “Digital Native” (and her “older” counterpart – the “Digital Immigrant”) in 2001 – but it is probably Josh Spear’s “born digital” and Ian Jukes’ notion of kids “speaking DFL” (digital-as-a-first-language) that are responsible for much of the current “buzz” about the “digital divide” in education and the potential for “tribal warfare” between the “youth of today” and the “oldies”.

There is more than a word of truth in this divide – how many of you (reading this) have:

  • Read a book this week?
  • Used an iPad to access the web or “Keynote” this week?
  • Sent an e-mail today?
  • Tweeted about “what happenin” in your life today?

I’m sure there would be a different “pattern” in the response curves from kids under the age of 16 – and those of us that are, shall we say, more experienced in “allthingslife”…

It is true that there are differences in the “languages” our two tribes speak – more and more kids are speaking DFL (Digital as a First Language) and we “oldies” (more often than not) still speak DSL (Digital as a Second Language).

This difference accounts for our “accents” and all the “inappropriate collocations” that make our kids “giggle” at us.

But, is it really about “age”?

The problem with the debate on the “two tribes” is that many people have picked up on the “hype” and the sexy words used to describe (or differentiate between) members of the tribes – without doing a lot of thinking about what the concept of the “digital native” means for how we do business in education (in practice).

Zur and Zur (2011) have recently produced one of the most comprehensive descriptions of the differences between Digital Natives and Digital Immigrants – this builds on the earlier work of Feeney (2010) and Toledo (2007).

However, the key to understanding these differences is not to think in terms of “kiddies” and “oldies” – but rather in terms of the “relationships”  and “connections” we have to the digital world, in addition to what we value and believe about the place of technology in our lives and work.

Neither “Natives” nor “Immigrants” are created equally – and we can place individuals in both “tribes” along a continuum  that is remarkably similar for both groups:

Contrary to many of the stories we read in the popular press (and “horror stories” shared by parents), there are not that many “addicts” – seriously, just another “myth” to scare us all silly!

Also, there are plenty of Digital Immigrants who are “totally tech-savvy”; and quite a few Digital Natives who are amazingly comfortable using Facebook, Twitter and iPads but are “totally clueless” when it comes to fixing html code on a web page or even managing subscribers on a community blog.

So, why do we even bother talking about the two tribes?

Well, the key point behind this approach relates to the relative size of the communities within each tribe and where they “live” on the continuum – the digital natives have the bigger army of “enthusiasts”, while the digital immigrants have more “reserves” in the “minimalist camp”.

More importantly, perhaps, is the fact that this differential in “military personnel” flags an even more serious problem – for educators and teachers especially. Students and teachers may speak either DFL or DSL – but there is a more fundamental language barrier.

When we look at what students “do” with their digital language, habits and attitudes – we recognise that they are, in fact, bi-lingual.

We see they are also “speaking LFL” (Learning as a First Language):

Teachers, many of whom are “immigrants” themselves, still speak TFL (Teaching as a First Language). In fact, this is the language of choice for educational establishments and the industries/sectors that “circle the skies” above them.

We see this distinction more sharply when we look at how our little digital natives prefer to do the “business of learning” – in both their “virtual” and “real” worlds:

If many teachers reflected on the “learning styles” demonstrated by most LFL speakers (and were honest about how they “do business” in their classrooms), they would probably see something of a mis-match with their own regional variety of TFL.

Like Latin – TFL is not “spoken” by many outside the walls of our school yards and univeritiesand very few digital natives see the value of learning it.

As Zur and Zur note:

The longer immigrants take to understand the natives they parent, teach and manage, the bigger the digital divide will get. Eventually, when immigrants grow older, retire and die off and only natives are left, this will not be an issue. But until then, it is time to do some cultural anthropology and appropriate adjustment.

Now, I’m not sure about you – but I, for one, am not planning on retiring or dying off anytime soon! Perhaps, we all best get our thinking caps on and chew over the type of anthropology we need to do and adjustments we could make to narrow the divide…

“READING” craze…(a follow-up)!

In Book Reviews, Technology on 11/04/2011 at 8:37 am

The “letter to the editor” that I posted yesterday was, in fact, from Steven Johnson’s book Everything BAD is GOOD for You – a radical take on what gaming, TV and technology are actually doing to our kids.

They are, claims Johnson, making our kids smarter!


His “letter” comes from an “alternative universe” – a universe in which technologically-enabled gaming was “born” before the written word, before the invention of “books” and before the insipid growth of those damn crack-house-like libraries!

Of course, he does not agree with the sentiments expressed in his letter (I think…) and he certainly does not support the biblioclasm or libricide I suggested in the images I used – my bad!

He writes the letter to illustrate the “amplified selectivity” used by many “short-sighted digital immigrants” to discredit technology and the benefits of the newer “culture” that many of our children (the digital natives of today’s world) are gowing up with and growing into.

These views simply ignore the cognitive benefits that the digital world is gifting our children and students – they prefer to draw attention to the levels of violence that form part of many top-selling gaming systems, the overuse of sexual innuendo in our newer TV shows, and the mind-numbing social isolation that allegedly results from overuse of our “digital toys”.

His book is a really good bedtime read – and a read we educators need to consider when creating a better “balance” in the learning opportunities we develop for our students.


Johnson makes a very convincing case for us to perhaps look at technology with a different pair of spectacles.

He points out that the digital world is far from just about escapism and lets us in on the “dirty little secret” of gaming – the huge amount of time you actually spend not having fun whilst playing games.

Rather than blindly following the crowd with the (largely unsubstantiated) claims that today’s TV programming is based on inane gangster stories, petty game shows and nudity, he asks us to think about TV events that are far more sophisticated and demand greater levels of cognitive engagement than “I Love Lucy” and even “Star Trek” ever managed!

Technology, he argues, is redefining the concept of “connectedness” – and helping us all learn new ways to connect. New media is helping us appreciate new forms of narrative and visual complexity. Just look at the difference between the original Star Wars trilogy (you all know – one of my favourites) and the more recent Lord of the Rings trilogy. These newer complexities both engage us more and push our brains to work “harder”…

Try telling me that “Lost” did NOT hurt your brain – at least two or three times (per episode)!


In a nutshell, Johnson provides us with a new lens with which to look at the way technology has become both the “engine” and the “fuel” of our lives today.

We cannot ignore itand our kids are not waiting for us to catch up with them!

This is where I started my session at Anadolu University this weekend – The Storm Cometh! Over the next few days, a new “blogging trilogy” will look at some of the issues we are facing as teachers (and parents)…

But, hey……..I’d love to see some comments on the “thoughts” his letter led to.

It’s weekend…

In Technology on 19/02/2011 at 4:07 pm

…So, something a little “lighter”!

I spent the day playing with my new iPad (yes, had to get one, too) and scanning the pages of a new book.

I’d checked out a cool video a few days back and had told myself that if two-year-old Clementine could handle it, so could I!

I went to the “Apple Shop” today and got meself one of the “toys” (and a pile of accessories that matched the cost of the bloody “toy” itself)!

Excited – I raced home (well, my wife drove me as I ripped open the box like a kiddie on Christmas morning – in the passenger seat)! I was gonna have so much fun!

I was so wrong. Clementine is so right – all iPads are “broken”!

I went back to my book to read about other little kids like her – Understanding the Digital Generation. What an eye-opener – “DFL screenagers” Vs. “DSL teachers”!

You don’t have to read the book (but I would) – definitely check out Ian Juke’s presentation and the  “Committed Sardine” blog (if you subscribe you get the first three chapters “free” – free I say)!

BOOKS we all gotta read before “Clementine’s digital army” marches onto the schoolyards of Turkey: