Not just digital natives: Integrating technologies in professional education contexts




social media, professional learning, digital literacies, digital natives, critical review.


In 2001, Prensky characterised a new generation of learners entering higher education as digital natives – naturally digitally literate and inherently proficient users of technology. While many educational technology researchers have long argued for the need to move beyond the digital native assumptions proposed by Prensky and other futurists, a critical review of the literature reveals that this concept remains influential in academia broadly and within professional education specifically. In light of this, we propose an alternative approach to technology integration in professional education settings that aims to avoid unhelpful digital native stereotypes by instead developing digital literacies in ways that leverage technological affordances. By building digital literacies across the procedural and technical, cognitive, and sociocultural domains connected to professional competencies, learners can effectively adopt and utilise emerging technologies through professional digital practices.


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Author Biographies

Erika E Smith, Mount Royal University

Erika E. Smith is an Assistant Professor and Faculty Development Consultant in the Academic Development Centre at Mount Royal University in Calgary, Canada. Her research interests include digital literacies, social media in undergraduate learning, faculty development, and learning design.

Renate Kahlke, Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada

Renate Kahlke, PhD is Research Associate in the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada and Adjunct Professor in the Department of Innovation in Medical Education, University of Ottawa. Her research focuses on the social influences on decision making among health professionals.

Terry Judd, The University of Melbourne

Terry Judd, PhD is a Senior Lecturer and educational technology specialist in the Department of Medical Education at the University of Melbourne. Research interests include the application of learning analytics to assessment and feedback.




How to Cite

Smith, E. E., Kahlke, R., & Judd, T. (2020). Not just digital natives: Integrating technologies in professional education contexts. Australasian Journal of Educational Technology, 36(3), 1–14.