Friday, March 18, 2016

A new book challenging the myths about digital natives

A new book by European researchers challenges many of the popular myths surrounding digital natives, technology and learning. The book, appropriately titled Urban Myths About Learning and Education, is available here from Amazon. The authors have also published a short article called Technology in Education: What Teachers Should Know that summarizes the key points in their book including:

  • Myth 1: New technology is causing a revolution in education (it isn't; research has repeatedly shown that it's teaching practices, not technology, that makes the difference).
  • Myth 2: The internet belongs in the classroom because it is part of the personal world experienced by children (the gap between "digital natives" and "digital immigrants" is greatly overstated and probably nonexistent. It's so-called digital immigrants, after all, who invented this stuff in the first place. Moreover, most students say they prefer their teachers to make only moderate use of technology in the classroom).
  • Myth 3: Today's "digital natives" are a new generation who want a new style of education (though this assertion seems intuitively correct, there's little, if any, hard evidence to support it).
  • Myth 4: The Internet is making us dumber (an alarmist claim perpetrated by authors with books to sell but so far lacking empirical support).
  • Myth 5: Young people don't read anymore (au contraire mon frere; they're reading lots and books and libraries are still very much relevant).

As the authors explain, these myths persist despite the lack of evidence because they seem so intuitively correct and thus are repeated and circulated among educators without critical examination which has the effect of transforming "beliefs" into fact. For a discussion of this phenomenon in the law school context, please check out my own article discussing the myths about digital natives, their origin and why they persist here.


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