The myths of the digital native and the multitasker

Paul A. Kirschner*, Pedro De Bruyckere

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-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

    Keywords

    • Digital native
    • Multitasking
    • Homo zappiens
    • Educational reform

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