Professional Development: Educating Digital Natives in the Twenty-First Century

By Thomas Ryan and Courtney Neely.

Published by Journal of Technologies in Society

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Learning in the twenty-first century has radically changed due to the intensifying use of technology. Students are engaging with technology at a very young age, which has changed how they learn; they seem to need to be constantly stimulated visually and cognitively in the learning environment. Couple this reality with the fact there is a generational gap in the education system as students are immersed in the digital age and technology praxes are habitual it seems; at least more than most teachers. Hence Professional Development (PD) opportunities need to be provided to teachers to better prepare them when teaching digital learners of the twenty-first century. Teachers need to be trained and educated on how to introduce and use engaging pedagogy incorporating the use of technology via their own digital literacy. PD opportunities must be provided to teachers in order instill digital confidence in the twenty-first century classroom. The purpose herein is to investigate how digital immigrants can become better trained and adequately prepared to teach DN of the twenty-first century by incorporating technology, differentiated instruction, and popular culture in the literacy curriculum. It is crucial that educators are open to the idea of learning new and innovative strategies of engaging youth in the literacy curriculum, as students today have grown up in a digital environment being fully immersed in digital related activities (Ng, 2012; Wang et al., 2014). Thompson (2013) explores the notion that researchers believe children who have grown up immersed in digital technologies learn differently from those who were not, as neuroplasticity has demonstrated that our brains have the ability to change in response to repeated experiences (i.e., exposure to digital media). Researchers suggest that DN can be characterized as preferring speed, multitasking, nonlinear processing, social learning, and working on activities rather than reading texts (Thompson, 2013; Wang et al., 2014).

Keywords: Digital Native, Neuroplasticity, Digital Literacy, Popular Culture, Differentiated Instruction, Professional Development

Journal of Technologies in Society, Volume 12, Issue 3-4, September 2016, pp.11-34. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 598.862KB).

Dr. Thomas Ryan

Professor, Education, Graduate Studies, Nipissing University, North Bay, Ontario, Canada

Courtney Neely

Graduate Student, Nipissing University, North Bay, Ontario, Canada