ThE dIgiTal nAtiveS ArE heRE!

The NATIVES are here. Every single day they come. Look like normal students? Maybe. It’s in their eyes. In their mode of communication(s). “Got a text?” “Saw your post on Facebook.” “Hey! zat a new phone? Got any pix?”

DIGITAL NATIVES they are. No learning curve per se. They were born to do YouTube, I-Tube, What’s new Tube? They aren’t quite as impressed with the new stuff as maybe two years ago. They already have seen it, bought it, borrowed it or have seen it on their iPhone.

As DIGITAL IMMIGRANTS, most teachers are learning from their students. With the X-Gen vs. Baby Boomers, the BB’s are playing catch up with their children. Surprised? Yet, we’re the first generation of parents who actually know where our children are… most ALL the time! Our digital immigrant children and now students live in technology. Don’t we TEXT more than we TALK?

This year begins my 29th cycle of 180 days with students. So, what’s DIFFERENT this year about teaching and instruction you say? Are the students making you become cynical? You’ve “been at this” for a while now.

Because I am technically in that FINAL FIVE years before I could go out to pasture, I know what COULD happen as an educator. But, you know what? My SUBJECT MATTER hasn’t changed all that much. The NATIVES are different.


Driving home from vacation, my wife looks over and asks me, “Who was that texting you?” Oh, it was Ben. “The tech guy at school?!! What’s he want?” No! It’s one of my students! “Whadhewant?” He’s giving me a heads up on the HEADSETS we need in the iMAC MUSIC TECH LAB.

I texted back… What’s the model? (reply: zxoidvwef) … How much do they cost? … (reply: in about 1 minute b/c he is at home searching online…. (reply: $40 each.)…Thanks! Later. JW

Web 2.0. Community. Facilitating. Thinking out loud with young men and women. Facebook. Connecting. Moms of my students “poking” me online. Videos and pictures that are part of my students’ REAL lives. Oh, those lives outside the school day.

This is how we are challenged to LIVE and EDUCATE in the 21st century with DIGITAL NATIVES. Personal? You bet! One of our BIGGEST challenges with school year 08-09 is defining just how we going to function with the DIGITAL NATIVES. Boundaries. Guidelines. Protection. Freedoms.

As music programs face budget challenges like never before in the United States, I am thankful to be in a position to remain in public music education! We offered a NEW CLASS called INTRODUCTION TO MUSIC TECHNOLOGY in 2007-2008 school year. We now have MORE students in the “digital native” culture of Intro to Music Tech than we do in our traditional vocal/choral program.

My greatest challenge, at this point, is to KNOCK THE WALLS DOWN. What walls? Tradition-for-tradition- sake. The barriers that keep student work in the classroom vs. out in the world. Connecting. Connecting. Connecting. Mentoring younger students within our school district in music technology.

THE DIGITAL NATIVES are here to STAY. We are the IMMIGRANTS. Will our GREEN CARDS run out as educators in the 21st Century? It’s our decision.