There has been much debate over the years concerning the Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants perspectives (Prensky, 2001; Part 1 and Part 2). Originally the ideas were embraced by many teachers who felt that they expressed the differences that they were seeing between younger and older students and between younger students and teachers. As time went on, the reality of young people's lack of digital skills in many areas became clearer and a feeling grew that apart from a difference in confidence, the existence of a 'Native' was probably more myth than reality.
Research carried out in 2010 and published in Feb 2012 (http://oro.open.ac.uk/32324/) finds no evidence for Digital Natives.
The Open University’s Institute of Educational Technology put together an age-stratified, gender-balanced cohort of 7,000 students aged between 21 and 100 . There were 2,000 between ages 60 and 69, 1,000 aged 70 and over, and, for comparison, four groups, 1,000 in each, from students respectively in their twenties, thirties, forties and fifties. All were surveyed by detailed and carefully constructed questionnaires.
The research concluded that firstly, there’s no evidence of a clear-cut digital divide. Use of technology varies with age, but it does so predictably, over the whole age span. And secondly, although younger people are more likely to be positive about technology, there is evidence that a good attitude to technology, at any age, correlates with good study habits.
More to follow next TGIF.