The rise and fall (?) of the digital natives

Terry Judd

Abstract


Building on the earlier net generation and millennials concepts, Prensky popularised the notion of a generation of “digital native” students through his 2001 two-part series “Digital natives, digital immigrants”. Although his ideas about how students perceive and utilise technology resonated with many educators, they lacked supporting evidence. Subsequent investigations, which informed the so-called “digital natives debate”, produced largely contrary evidence and dissenting views. As dissemination and acceptance of this evidence grew, interest in the idea of students as digital natives should have waned. However, a detailed analysis of general and academic search data and of articles published in leading educational technology journals (between 1998 and 2017) suggests that this interest remains strong. Although references to digital natives and the related terms net generation and millennials in educational technology journals has declined somewhat (having peaked in 2011), public and general academic search interest in these terms – and presumably the ideas that underpin them – continues to grow. These trends are discussed from an historical perspective, considering how our acceptance (or rejection) of the digital natives concept has developed, and the potential past, present and future impact of this on technology adoption and implementation practices within our universities.

Keywords


Digital natives; net generation; millennials

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.14742/ajet.3821