Monday, September 13, 2010

The Myth of the "Digital Native"

We often hear that our students are "digital natives". The usual connotation is that they know how to use the technology and we simply need to provide the context for them to apply this knowledge. Of course, this assumption is true for many students.

In my experience, there are just as many students whose ICT skills are not up to scratch. Here are a few general skills I wish students had picked up in their primary education (grades prep to 6 in Victoria):

  1. Some knowledge of file types and their associated extensions.
    This is especially applicable to our school, where we use Macs with NeoOffice and iWork while most of our students run MS Office on Windows machines.
  2. Resizing images while keeping their aspect ratio. It is surprising how few of them know about holding down the shift key
  3. Basic knowledge of keyboard shortcuts. I would settle CTRL-C, X V, and S although N and A would be a nice bonus
  4. File management. I could describe what I dislike about it, but it could get messy!
  5. Production of well presented work in something other than Powerpoint!
  6. Word processing skills beyond the basics, such as headers, footers, fields (eg: page numbering), page breaks and soft line breaks
  7. Tabbed browsing. 
Finally, I sooooo wish they all did some form of "programming" in Primay school. This could be LEGO robots, Scratch, Alice or any number of things that have been available for quite a while now. 

Please tell me what you think. I am happy to be corrected. Maybe there are other skills that I have overlooked and that you would like mentioned.

2 comments:

Andrew Smith

said...

I actually blogged on why our "digital native" students are often unable to use the computer for research - I like the ways you've suggested to rectify this early on!

Rambling Teacher

said...

Good post, Andrew. I dropped by and left a comment.
About your comment, it is always easier to teach a good habit rather than "fix" a bad one. I will eventually write about what I wish my students learnt in Primary Maths classes. The problem is that I have so much respect for Primary teachers I wouldn't want anything I write to be seen as a criticism.