The myths of the digital native and the multitasker

Paul A. Kirschner*, Pedro De Bruyckere

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

Current discussions about educational policy and practice are often embedded in a mind-set that considers students who were born in an age of omnipresent digital media to be fundamentally different from previous generations of students. These students have been labelled digital natives and have been ascribed the ability to cognitively process multiple sources of information simultaneously (i.e., they can multitask). As a result of this thinking, they are seen by teachers, educational administrators, politicians/ policy makers, and the media to require an educational approach radically different from that of previous generations. This article presents scientific evidence showing that there is no such thing as a digital native who is information-skilled simply because (s)he has never known a world that was not digital. It then proceeds to present evidence that one of the alleged abilities of students in this generation, the ability to multitask, does not exist and that designing education that assumes the presence of this ability hinders rather than helps learning. The article concludes by elaborating on possible implications of this for education/educational policy.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)135-142
Number of pages8
JournalTeaching and Teacher Education
Volume67
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2017

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myth
educational policy
student
digital media
ability
educational practice
source of information
evidence
politician
education
present
teacher
learning

Keywords

  • Digital native
  • Multitasking
  • Homo zappiens
  • Educational reform

Cite this

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title = "The myths of the digital native and the multitasker",
abstract = "Current discussions about educational policy and practice are often embedded in a mind-set that considers students who were born in an age of omnipresent digital media to be fundamentally different from previous generations of students. These students have been labelled digital natives and have been ascribed the ability to cognitively process multiple sources of information simultaneously (i.e., they can multitask). As a result of this thinking, they are seen by teachers, educational administrators, politicians/ policy makers, and the media to require an educational approach radically different from that of previous generations. This article presents scientific evidence showing that there is no such thing as a digital native who is information-skilled simply because (s)he has never known a world that was not digital. It then proceeds to present evidence that one of the alleged abilities of students in this generation, the ability to multitask, does not exist and that designing education that assumes the presence of this ability hinders rather than helps learning. The article concludes by elaborating on possible implications of this for education/educational policy.",
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}

The myths of the digital native and the multitasker. / Kirschner, Paul A.; De Bruyckere, Pedro.

In: Teaching and Teacher Education, Vol. 67, 10.2017, p. 135-142.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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AU - De Bruyckere, Pedro

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