So You Think You're a Digital Native? Published 2007-02-15 under ,

I have decades of experience working with computers. In college, I tossed out my typewriter after my freshman year in favor of hacking out my papers in the school's computer lab at a time when Word Processing was a relatively unknown term and no one had a personal computer. While studying in Edinburgh, I used a line editor to write term papers which were then printed on that green lined paper for data printouts. I have developed applications and websites, ran computer labs and networks, wired classrooms and offices, trained technology experts and support staff, and even worked at NASA's JPL in their web systems group. But last week, I came to the realization that I am no digital native!

Last week was the Connectivism Online Conference featuring a variety of speakers taking about a fascinating learning model - connectivism. I encourage you to visit Vicki Davis's blog, CoolCatTeacher, as she was a context filter for the conference. The best part of the conference were the many opportunities to discuss the topics presented in each day's session. During the live presentation, the messages flew in the chat window. Afterwards, the conversations moved to the conference's Moodle forum and on various bloggers' sites. And one topic that kept popping up was Second Life and its potential in education. Like many, I had heard of SL, but never been in that world. I, apparently, was not the only one new to SL. There were many of us, so a tour of SL was organized. Before the tour, we were told to get a SL account and setup our avatar. Being the diligent soldier, I signed up with SL, configured my avatar and launched the application. Like all first timers, I was teleported to the welcome zone in SL where I was left to fend for myself. This is when the realization began. I was immediately nervous because there were others around me and I was afraid that I might run into them knocking them down. I was concerned that I might go some place that I shouldn't, fall off a cliff and die before I even got to the tour. I was afraid that I might say or do something that against the edicit of SL and I would be kicked out. Then my two-year old daughter walked in to see what I was doing. She immediately started telling me where to go. "Down beach, Daddy!" I was so focused on trying to figure out what to do, I had not even noticed the water. Then my thoughts turned to safety. If I went "down beach" would I drown? Silly I know, but I could not let go of my terrestrial ideals. The next morning, as I went it to get my daughter, she grabbed my hand and told me "down beach!" pointing at the computer. I realized that I was just an immigrant in this truly digital world.


This is a good example of a successful product user interface for the true digital native:

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