Survey: ‘Digital natives’ need more IT support

Research on digital natives as they move through high school and enter college has become widespread since Prensky defined digital natives as students who “think and process information fundamentally differently from their predecessors,” having “spent their entire lives surrounded by and using computers, digital music players, video games, cell phones, and all the other toys of the digital age.”

Harvard Law School’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society and the Research Center for Information Law at the University of St. Gallen in Switzerland launched the Digital Natives Blog in November 2007 to help educators adapt to a generation of tech-savvy pupils.

The Library of Congress in 2008 hosted a four-part lecture series of children who were raised with everyday computer, cell phone, and video game interaction, questioning if IT experts were prepared to help a generation ingrained in technology.

In a recent post, the Digital Natives Blog presented common conundrums faced by educators in the age of college students who grew up with digital technology—and the researchers’ conclusion supported the charge that even digital natives need computer training. Teaching a modern college class can be difficult, even if all students are comfortable with computers, because “no two digital natives are created equal.”

“Each of them has varying degrees of access to digital technologies, literacy skills, and participation within their peer culture,” the blog says. “What’s more alarming is the ‘divide’ opening up between those that have access to the network and those without. … Like many other crucial skills, digital literacy needs to be taught and learned through constant practice.”


Cengage/Eduventures survey

Marc Prensky