In the seven readings we did for the first week, each one talked about many different things that pertained to rules, teaching, pedagogy and knowledge of a rapidly changing technological world that people are constantly adjusting to. Each article intertwined with each other on different levels, however the one article that was written that acted as an umbrella to the rest of them was “Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants” by Mark Prensky. This article brings up many good points about how digital natives, or currently the “N-Gen,” are born into technology; even going as far as to say their brains are built differently than digital immigrants, who were born before the technological boom and have to adjust even more to the ever changing technological world. I believe this to be absolutely true. At age 32, I still remember taking typing classes, as well as an internet web building course when I was a senior in high school. Digital natives are among the first generations to grow up around new technology, and while I’m not aware of the current classes being offered at local high schools, I would bet money that none of these courses are offered anymore.
As digital natives begin to flood higher level schooling and even workplaces, many challenges face digital immigrants. The NCTE (National Council of Teachers of English) has even changed their outlook on literacy. This notion has always been a simple collection of communicative practices that is common among members of particular groups. In the ever changing 21st century, to be considered literate you must possess a wide range of abilities and competencies. This is, and not confined to, possessing proficiency and fluency with tools of technology, designing and sharing information for global communities and creating multimedia texts. To help these so called “immigrants” along, the NCTE has created a code of best practices in fair use for media literacy education. This is meant to help educators using media literacy concepts and techniques to interpret the copyright doctrine of fair use. This is especially useful for teachers in the classrooms that are trying to keep up with students who are incredibly gifted at using today’s technology. For example, one code explains the limitations students have in using copyrighted materials in their schoolwork. It states copyrighted material should not be a substitute for creative effort. This is an important thing to think about when considering the sheer amount of information, graphics and even schoolwork that is available to students on the immeasurable size of the internet. Google has made it easy for students to access virtually anything that they need to write a paper or research a topic. Gone are the days of sitting in the library, looking through endless lines of index cards to find information on a topic you are about to write a paper on. Not only is that information available at the click of a button, but the paper you are trying to write can be yours if you come across the right website.
As a result of all of this convenience, a giant problem facing digital immigrants in schools is “plagiarizing.” This is of course the act of taking someone else’s work and claiming it is your own. The root of the problem is that digital natives are getting better at hiding their plagiarizing, and it’s up to the immigrants to stay privy to their falsities. So why do students plagiarize? For one it’s becoming increasingly easier. One appealing thing about plagiarizing is the fact that in the online world, one can feel lone, and as a result, very powerful. This can often be an illusion, as anything you do on the internet can be traced back to you. However, when you need to get something done and you can basically write your paper by cutting and pasting, one gets a feeling that since there is endless amounts of information on the web, no one will catch them. It is also easy to change around a few words here and there to make it look like the work was done by you. The appropriation of a paragraph can be attained by merely the movement of a mouse. Another reason students are drawn to plagiarizing is the healthy amount of work and deadlines put forth by teachers or professors. It’s only natural for some students to feel the need to plagiarize when they need to finish a paper by 8 am the next morning, and it’s 11 pm and they are only a quarter of the way through. Desperation, combined with the drunken notion of invincibility due to the immeasurable vastness of the web by a student, can often times lead to plagiarizing; whether it be a simple paragraph or two or an entire paper.
As bad as plagiarizing can be in schools, the immigrants are doing their best to catch up with the natives. One tool they use to combat plagiarizing is turnitin.com. Papers that are turned in to this service are scanned for passages copied or paraphrased from web pages or many different papers. It has become massively popular, but just like everything that sounds too good to be true, it has encountered some problems. One is the loss of trust between teacher and pupil. If the students know the instructor is using this site, they are essentially “guilty until proven innocent.” This can create an unstable learning environment, and dangerous precedents are set on expectations. Since the database of turnitin.com is made up of a good amount of student papers, theirs are being used as comparisons. As a result, their intellectual products are being used as a resource. Students give formal consent to use, but it can hardly be considered genuine since it’s out of their control after agreeing.
Another important topic when considering plagiarism is the notion of “accidental” plagiarizing. The article we read on readerswonderland.com considered this as an actual thing. A professor might discount these as lies when students claim that they “accidentally” plagiarized their paper, but when you consider phenomenon’s such as “Cryptomnesia,” which is what happens when your brains finds a really good idea but doesn’t bother remember that it’s not yours, their claim might be reconsidered. This notion is strengthened considering the overall weariness that immigrants are experiencing due to the amount of gray area that can exist when claiming that a student plagiarized a paper. In Barry Gilmore’s piece “Write From Wrong,” chemistry teacher Mark Page, who heads the disciplinary committee at his school, grows more tired by the day, claiming that plagiarizing cases are growing substantially every year.
The solution to shrinking the divide between digital natives and immigrants is to utilize TPACK (Technology, pedagogy, and content knowledge). This framework is critical to effective teaching with technology. The more knowledge teachers have of technology, how to teach it and how to effectively integrate it into their classroom, the easier time they will have adjusting to digital natives. The general message of our readings was that the technological divide between immigrants and natives cannot get too wide. There are many things being done to make sure this doesn’t happen, but it’s up to the immigrants to make sure that they, or I should say “we,” continue on this path. I for one feel like and immigrant, and these are perfect sets of readings to begin this course. I feel like what we learn in this class will be paramount to my future as a teacher, and what I need to do to keep up with these natives.