There’s a great thread running over at Classroom 2.o. The discussion is whether or not today’s young people are really “digital natives.”

The idea, of course, behind the term “digital native” is that today’s youth have grown up with technology–they are native to it. Older people, on the other hand, are “immigrants” to technology; we’ve learned how to use it later in life.

Participants in the thread take both sides of the argument, with a good number sitting somewhere in the middle.  I lean toward the “not” side.  I do, of course, work with young children (8-9 years old), and I haven’t seen an “innate” ability to adapt to new technology applications.  Even things like LeapPads are somewhat difficult to learn.  Perhaps older children are more capable; perhaps my students will be more capable as they get older; perhaps what we’re doing in the classroom is developing their ability to learn.  I can take a lot of positions!

I have, when working with adults, noticed that being able to use one application greatly reduces the learning curve for additional applications.  I’m certain that this is by design–somewhere along the line the terms “save,” “print,” “copy,” and “paste” became standard.  It’s difficult to think of too many synonyms for any of those words, and I’m glad that no one’s put forth the effort!

I suppose that if I was to put my thoughts into one simple phrase, I would say that (regardless of your age) most people can learn what is necessary to learn.  That can be necessary as in, “I am interested in this and want to learn it,” or, “I need to learn this for my job/a grade/someone is requiring this of me.  The former is much more likely to lead to success than the latter.