Research Myth 8: Pupils Are Digital Natives

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John Dabell

I trained as a primary school teacher 25 years ago, starting my career in London and then I taught in a range of schools in the Midlands. In between teaching jobs, I worked as an Ofsted inspector (no hate mail please!), national in-service provider, project...
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Are pupils digital whizz-kids?

There is the idea that children are super-savvy highly information-competent digital natives who code for fun and can multitask with various technologies. But do these Homo Zappiens really exist?

This is a myth.

There are very few pupils who are digital whizz-kids and “many, probably most, are rarely progressing beyond the trivial and banal” (Angela McFarlane, 2014).

A number of research studies note that students do not really have deep knowledge of technology because they flit from one piece of technology to another like butterflies and their “fluttering” leads to a very fragile network of knowledge at best.

There is overwhelming evidence that the homo zappiens and the multitasker do not exist and as Paul A. Kirschner and Pedro De Bruyckere (2017) note, students task switch which negatively impacts learning and educational design which assumes students are information-savvy digital natives hinders rather than helps learning.


Read the full Research Myths series.

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