How do our evolving definitions of digital literacy change or remain the same as a result of our exposure to the varying thoughts offered about digital natives?
The concept of a digital native is interesting, but I’m glad it’s evolved over the past decade and a half. The idea of a “native” anything being completely fluent in something right out of the gate is kind of amusing if we look at it from any other point of view. In the United States, we can say that anyone born here or brought here as a young child is probably a native English speaker. Yet many of us don’t have a full grasp of the language until well into our teen years. I once substituted for a “Spanish for Native Speakers” class in the high school where I formerly worked, and these students had to really learn to read and write in a language they grew up speaking, without all the idioms and potential misuses of the language that happens in regional family vernacular.
With that in mind, my initial definition of digital literacy, “an ever changing consideration of sociocultural understanding regarding technologies and the uses of those technologies across an individual person or larger group’s life and experiences,” can probably still stand. In our various readings the idea of a Digital Native has not completely been debunked; it’s true that there are now multiple generations in which the use of technology and its outputs is nothing unfamiliar. But these digital natives are not automatically digitally literate, and they need to be aware that they are not. It can’t really be said better than Apostolos Koutropoulos summarizes at the end of “Digital Natives: Ten Years After”:
Learners don’t know what they don’t know, but if they come to the table from a position of superiority, like they are better than the so-called immigrants, they lose an opportunity to learn something that they don’t know that they don’t know, something that may be beneficial to them.
No matter what generation you were born in, the concept of digital literacy must remain the same. The definition that I produced at the beginning of this course supports the concept that digital literacy is fluid, depending on an individual’s circumstances and understanding—and that includes their age and socioeconomic status.