Siân Bayne and Jen Ross from the University of Edinburgh wrote a brilliant paper titled, The digital native and ‘digital immigrant’: a dangerous opposition.
Bayne and Ross describe an 'us versus them' attitude, aka "the ‘digital native discourse", first coined by Marc Prensky in 2001 and developed further in (‘Net Generation’ (Oblinger 2003), ‘Digital Generation’, ‘Technological Generation’ (Monereo 2004), ‘Millenials’ (Howe and Strauss 2000) and so on) as an over-simplistic reduction of understanding ( about online learning )- to a raw binary opposition.
They postulate that this divisive labelling (you're either a stodgy immigrant or a cool young native) has resulted in a structural de-privileging of the teacher, a marketised vision of. . . education, a racialised and divisive understanding of student/teacher relationships and an associated series of metaphors which ‘write out’ the possibility of learner and teacher agency in the face of technological change.
The Bayne-Ross thesis is about post secondary education, but I think it is is entirely valid for K-12. I clearly remember being invited to hear a computer guru who had been flown in from thousands of miles away to convert us to the new wizbang net culture. A colleague who sitting in the front row, studiously taking notes was admonished by the speaker for using a pen and paper rather than a laptop.
The teacher shrunk into his seat, but how many of us would have stood up and said, "BS!" There's more than one way to remember something!
No doubt, Apple and Microsoft and the thousands of spinoff businesses have captured the imagination of most of us. Their products are sublime, beautiful and amazing. But can we afford them at the expense of everyone and everything in a school budget? For the price of a class set of IPADS how much teacher one-on-one could we purchase? Library books? Even toilet paper. What is the financial trade off for handmaiden IT support and infrastructure?
The more essential question to me is - How can we best use technology in the classroom? The complex answer should not come from the people who speak the loudest and have the smartest spin : the George Lucas Foundation or Google Education or Pearson International or even Sir Ken Robinson but from the teachers in the trenches, the kids and their parents, their communities, the universities that provide their professional training, and educational researchers and historians.
Siân Bayne and Jen Ross’s paper goes a long way to explain why teachers have been intimidated and not taken up the challenge. But unless we do, the answer to the question of how to integrate our on and offline worlds in our classroom will be answered by aggressive marketers of products, not the people who know what is best for our children.
As an aside I have been working on the question of “how do we use technology in the classroom?" for a decade, and offer up one very inexpensive but effective teaching model : the open access, online assignment, developed in collaboration between teacher and teacher-librarian. (promise, no advertising!)