One of the highlights of the EDMEDIA 2011 conference in Lisbon has been the number of presentations on research into the use of digital technologies in higher education that acknowledge the complete lack of empirical support for the digital native rhetoric.
Here are the relevant presentations:
Teaching the Net Generation: Exploring Networked Learning and Digital Collaboration Methods - Natalia Gilewicz, Ryerson University, Canada.
The Natives are Restless: Meeting the Diversity and Needs of Millennial Students in a Large Undergraduate Unit - Mark McMahon, Jo Jung, Edith Cowan University, Australia.
Digital Natives and Technology Literate Students: Do Teachers Follow Their Lead? - Nikleia Eteokleous, Victoria Pavlou, Frederick University, Cyprus.
(Unfortunately these authors did not show up to present but their paper is online.)
ICT Literacy and the Second Digital Divide: Understanding Students' Experiences with Technology - Tiffani Cameron, Sue Bennett, Shirley Agostinho, University of Wollongong, Australia.
The Life of a Digital Native - Linda Corrin, Lori Lockyer, Sue Bennett, University of Wollongong, Australia
Digital Learners in Higher Education: Looking Beyond Stereotypes - Mark Bullen, British Columbia Institute of Technology, Tannis Morgan, Justice Institute of BC, Adnan Qayyum, University of Ottawa.
These all report on important research in this area and are worth reading. My only disappointment with some of them is that they continue to frame the discussion in terms of generation even after acknowledging the lack of empirical support. We now know that generation is not the issue so let's stop using these discredited concepts and terms to guide our inquiry.