Virtual School Meanderings

July 25, 2016

EDTECH537 – Examining Generational Differences

Earlier this summer semester, you read:

Prensky, M. (2001). Digital natives, digital immigrants – Part II: Do they really think differently? On the Horizon, 9(6). Retrieved from,%20Digital%20Immigrants%20-%20Part1.pdf

McKenzie, J. (2007). Digital nativism: Digital delusions and digital deprivation. From Now On, 17(2). Retrieved from

Reeves, T.C. (2008). Do generational differences matter in instructional design? Online discussion presentation to Instructional Technology Forum from January 22-25, 2008 at

The main take aways from these readings included:

  • while the theory of generational differences exists and is a valid theory, there is no research at present that indicates instructional designers should modify instruction or instructional strategies to accommodate today’s generation of students
  • there is no reliable and valid research to support the belief that technology has somehow changed today’s generation of students
  • further to the fact that Prensky’s notion of digital natives isn’t based on research, McKenzie does a convincing job of illustrating how Prensky even misused the anecdotal “evidence” that he presents to support is beliefs
  • the only thing that can be said about today’s student, based upon reliable and valid research, is that they are more narcissistic than any previous generation

However, even faced with these realities in almost every semester where I use these three readings there are multiple students – often the majority of students – who still believe that the students they teach are fundamentally influenced by digital technology and it has changed the way that they learn in the classroom.

As educational technologists, what did you take away from these generational differences readings? How would you handle a colleague who bought into the notion of digital natives?

As I described in the Week 5 overview, please post your response to this prompt ON YOUR OWN blog. In addition to your response, you are asked to leave comments on at least three other students’ blogs. As always, you are asked to respond to those who leave a comment on your blog.


  1. […] This post is written in response to Michael Barbour’s blog post Examining Generational Differences. […]

    Pingback by Digital Natives vs. Digital Immigrants: Do they exist in the wild? | McLeod's Crowd — July 26, 2016 @ 10:45 pm | Reply

  2. Do Digital Natives Exist?

    After reading Prensky’s article and McKenzie’s somewhat scary rebuttal, I come back to my original thoughts about digital natives, educational technology, and teaching methodology. Yes, every generation of students is different, but that does not mean…

    Trackback by IT'S BLOGGIN' TIME!! — July 27, 2016 @ 10:21 am | Reply


    In the sixteen years that I have been teaching, the idea of my students being digital natives and that I am not, has been brought to my attention several times. The thing is that when it’s brought up it seems to make a lot of sense. Only when I look mo…

    Trackback by Personal Finance and You! — July 27, 2016 @ 10:23 am | Reply

  4. Response Entry: Digital Natives – Are They a Myth?

    After previous graduate course discussion and these most recent readings by Prensky (2001), McKenzie (2007) and Reeves (2008), I am 90% certain that the phrase digital natives is too broad of a label too encompass all the types of learners we in see th…

    Trackback by MUSINGS OF A SCIENCE TEACHER — July 27, 2016 @ 10:24 am | Reply

  5. Digital Natives or Immigrants: Do We Have to Fit in Either Category?

    As I read through Marc Prensky’s Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants I felt as if I was completely in the dark as to the mindset of learners who could be defined as “digital natives.” Being relatively new to education, his ideas of approach to “digital…

    Trackback by Respiratory World — July 27, 2016 @ 10:25 am | Reply

  6. Examining Generational Differences

    In reading about generational differences I see a great deal of these notions present in teachers at my school. We have many teachers who are resistant to using technology and see it as a crutch our students lean on. I often hear older teachers talking…

    Trackback by MR. KILLAM'S LAB — July 27, 2016 @ 10:26 am | Reply

  7. Examining Generational Differences (A Response Entry)

    When thinking about generational differences when it comes to technology, the gap is definitely there. Technology has come a long way since I was in school. Even with the advances in technology and all of the different opportunities that today’s genera…

    Trackback by Tara Sells — July 27, 2016 @ 12:30 pm | Reply

  8. Examining Generational Differences: Technology for Today’s Classroom

    We have studied a great deal about the digital divide – the divide between those that have access to technology and those that do not – but what about the generational divide? The generational divide is a belief by some education researchers that due t…

    Trackback by A Teacher's Journey — July 27, 2016 @ 12:31 pm | Reply

  9. Response to Prompt – Generational Differences in Education

    Prompt: As educational technologists, what did you take away from these generational differences readings? How would you handle a colleague who bought into the notion of digital natives? In my EdTech 537 class, we were assigned three readings about gen…

    Trackback by EdTech & 8th Grade Humanities — July 27, 2016 @ 12:32 pm | Reply

  10. […] EDTECH537 – Examining Generational Differences […]

    Pingback by Examining Generational Differences | Mr. Husen's Blog — July 27, 2016 @ 5:16 pm | Reply

  11. Teaching Style: Talkin’ Bout My Generation (and if it matters)

    Although The Who released this song in 1965, their lyrics are still relevant when examining generational attitudes today. I AM A DIGITAL IMMIGRANT but I am not a teacher like Prensky described in his opinion piece Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants. I…

    Trackback by Politics in The Middle East - Holsinger — July 27, 2016 @ 11:41 pm | Reply

  12. EdTech 537: Examining Generational Differences Response Post

    This post is written in response to Michael Barbour’s blog post Examining Generational Differences. As a person in my mid-20’s I can say that I have the best of both worlds. I grew up in a time when the Internet was becoming popular. I can still rememb…

    Trackback by marketing is all around us! — July 27, 2016 @ 11:42 pm | Reply

  13. EDTECH Posts

    Digital Natives: Has technology fundamentally changed how students learn? As the newest generation goes through school, often teachers will indicate that students are fundamentally different than they once were. They explain that students have been cha…

    Trackback by Examining Generational Differences — July 27, 2016 @ 11:43 pm | Reply

  14. Are Digital Natives Really Different?

    Marc Prensky set out in 2001 to decisively answer this question in his article “Digital Natives Digital Immigrants.” He makes a convincing argument that children who are growing up in a time when the explosion of technology has impacted every facet of…

    Trackback by Blended Learning Teachers — July 27, 2016 @ 11:43 pm | Reply

  15. Mind The Gap

    The Generational Divide Although I found all three of the readings on generational differences thought provoking, I was struck by the fact that none of them were written recently. The first, in fact, was written in 2001–a veritable dinosaur in terms of…

    Trackback by The Logophiles — July 27, 2016 @ 11:44 pm | Reply

  16. Generational Differences – Having teaching methods evolved or have childrens’ brains adapted?

    This week my Blogging in the Classroom course introduced two articles that discuss the concept of a “digital native.” Essentially a generation of learners that thrive off of digital mediums. Marc Prensky and Jaime McKenzie offer two drastically diffe…

    Trackback by Danielle Leone's Blog — July 27, 2016 @ 11:45 pm | Reply

  17. Are you a digital native?

    After pondering a few readings on digital natives, I’m left a bit perplexed and miffed with the authors. There’s this idea that today’s learners, those who have grown up with technology their entire lives, think and learn differently from previous gene…

    Trackback by French Press — July 27, 2016 @ 11:46 pm | Reply

  18. Digital Natives and Digital Immigrants!

    As educational technologists, what did you take away from these generational differences readings? How would you handle a colleague who bought into the notion of digital natives? I think the premise of the terms are valid. My children are digital nativ…

    Trackback by EdTech 537 Blogging — July 29, 2016 @ 12:49 am | Reply

  19. EDTECH 537 Response to Prompt – Digital Immigrants or Digital Natives

    Digital Immigrants or Digital Natives. Does it really matter what the person is classified as? They still make up tomorrow’s future. I have a hard time classifying myself into either category. The article by Prensky, as well as the contradictory artic…

    Trackback by My Math Matters — July 29, 2016 @ 12:50 am | Reply

  20. Lets take a look: The Generational Difference Response

    I may seem young, the early thirties, but I have seen a thing or two, which gives me the best of both worlds. I grew up in a time when it was a luxury to have that offal dial tone of the internet. To this day, I still remember when you had to wait for…

    Trackback by Adventures of Blogging in the Classroom — July 29, 2016 @ 12:51 am | Reply

  21. Generation Y

    This is a very interesting topic for me, the reason being, that I am only 22 so I am often lumped into this “influenced by technology” category. Growing up, I vaguely remember hearing dial-up internet and not being able to talk on the phone at the same…

    Trackback by Ms. Griffin: Technology in the Classroom — July 29, 2016 @ 12:52 am | Reply

  22. I found this idea to be very insightful and really made me pondering. I really honed into the idea that it is all about presentation. If a kid can memorize pokemon cards, then why not geography or multiplication facts. Read my blog entry for further thoughts.

    Comment by Rebecca Beecher — July 30, 2016 @ 2:26 pm | Reply

  23. Week 5 Response – Digital Natives vs Digital Immigrants

    The idea of Digital Natives and Digital Immigrants, presented by Prensky, is a hefty one. Do these two groups really exist, and if so, should instruction be modified to adjust to the new normal facing Digital Natives in the classroom? After reading the…

    Trackback by Cooper's Classroom Corner — July 31, 2016 @ 11:59 pm | Reply

  24. […] Examining Generational Differences […]

    Pingback by EDTECH537 – End Of Course | Virtual School Meanderings — August 15, 2016 @ 10:02 am | Reply

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