Visitors and Residents is more useful than Natives and Immigrants

I was never a fan of the Prensky distinction between digital natives and immigrants. I suppose it was because the natives were supposed to be the cool folks and by definition, I was an immigrant. Being an adult working with technology before and during the earliest days of public access to the Internet, I was put off by the advantages attributed to the natives. Those young folks usually had little idea how things actually worked and were limited by a mechanical approach to the use of some tools most adults had yet to discover. The native/immigrant distinction seemed mostly to be a way for adults working with younger people (e.g., many educators) to excuse their lack of experience AND interest.

I hope we are past the use of the natives/immigrants labels. Everyone has now had ample opportunity to learn. The adult Facebook-only users are the equivalent of the teen Snapchat users – neither knows much beyond their tools of choice.

While the “I am not a native” excuse lingers, I am pleased to see some more helpful descriptions have emerged. I like the visitors/residents distinction being promoted by White and Cornu. This simple model is based on patterns of use rather than quantity of knowledge.

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