There is a sense of urgency in the digital natives discourse that suggests today’s learners are becoming impatient with traditional modes of teaching because they have grown up digitally. Our research and research conducted in six different countries and at a range of different institutions suggests we need to be focusing on digital learners, not digital natives. While the empirical evidence clearly shows the use of digital technology is growing, and young people tend to use it more than older people, it just as clearly shows that the issues are not defined by generation and the implications for education are far from clear. It is time to move beyond the simplistic dichotomy of digital natives and digital immigrants. Our research shows today’s learners, regardless of age, are on a continuum of technological access, skill, use and comfort. They have differing views about the integration of social and academic uses and are not generally challenging the dominant academic paradigm.
Digital learners, net generation, digital natives, educational technology, instructional design