It is a sad fact that many who are reading this still think that a virus is something likely to give us a cold and a tablet is the counter measure we take to alleviate the symptoms. We are beginning to understand that a mice are now more likely to live on our desks than under the skirting boards but apps, Face Time, Cloud Computing, all sorts of iThings and Smart thises and thats are best left to the youngsters who don’t talk to us anymore.

Marc Prensky is the inevitable American who has studied the situation from an educationalist’s point of view and speaks of those who have grown up in the digital age as its confident Natives while the rest of us are mere Immigrants who will never wholly grasp the native language.

In one of his essays he starts by saying, ‘Today’s students have not just changed incrementally from those of the past, nor simply changed their slang, clothes, body adornments, or styles, as has happened between generations previously. A really big discontinuity has taken place. One might even call it a “singularity” – an event which changes things so fundamentally that there is absolutely no going back. This so-called “singularity” is the arrival and rapid dissemination of digital technology in the last decades of the 20th century.’

The youngsters today are being born into an age that has changed radically in the past ten years. My son-in-law is a Senior University Lecturer who tells me that many of the newly arriving students have to be taught to e-mail because they have grown up with later forms of communication.

Prensky goes on to talk about the rise in digital technology and says, ‘It is now clear that as a result of this ubiquitous environment and the sheer volume of their interaction with it, today’s students think and process information fundamentally differently from their predecessors. These differences go far further and deeper than most educators suspect or realize.’

The stunning reality of this essay by Prensky is that it was written in 2001, before social networking, Smart phones and everything we see about us today. To find out just what Prensky said then and now, go Native on the Trevithick Society web site and open up his essays.

Downloadable PDF documents – links below:

We, as Digital Immigrants, have one foot in the past, have come from a different environment and will always speak digitally with an ‘accent’. No longer can we imagine a cosy scene with children around a fire being instructed in their heritage by their parents and grandparents. Nevertheless, we have a cause and a responsibility to pass on the story of Cornwall’s remarkable industrial past to the leaders of tomorrow. The youngsters of today are very clever but they have been programmed differently to their predecessors.

If Cornwall is to retain its integrity in this changing world its leaders need the knowledge upon which its livelihood was based. This society is beginning to digitise its possessions and, in so doing, it is embarking on a journey where it can’t look back.


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