Digital Natives As Preservice Teachers: What Technology Preparation Is Needed?

Lei, J. Digital Natives As Preservice Teachers: What Technology Preparation Is Needed? Journal of Computing in Teacher Education25(3), 87-97. Retrieved from

Lei points out that there is a dearth of lit on pre-service teachers as digital natives, and that they qualify.

Author argues that

“Most technology preparation programs focus on two major aspects:
technical skills and positive attitude (Zhao, Pugh, Sheldon, & Byers,
2002). The rationale for focusing on these two components is related to
teachers being digital immigrants:”

Interestingly, Pearsons Soc Media study puts the highest classroom use of soc media as amongst the immigrant demographic. The paper’s introduction points to the standard Prensky and related assertions (unsupported by recent studies, and undermined by analyses) regarding how digital natives learn, use technology to learn, and engage.

Given that digital natives are now training  as teachers, it seems reasonable, if the Prensky style assertoions hold, to assume that they will bring the learning characteristics ascribed to them to bear – multitasking, a preference for specific, visually oriented learning styles etc to bear. The authors state that there is zero evidence for this.

Survey results

“Almost all (96.4%) of the preservice teachers surveyed reported that they
started using computers before sixth grade, and nearly half of them (49%)
started using computers in kindergarten or before the end of third grade.
All participants reported that they owned at least one personal computer
and one cell phone. Almost all participants (94.5%) owned one iPod or
other mp3 player, and more than half (54.4%) owned four or more of the
five technology devices surveyed (personal computer, cell phone, iPod or
mp3 player, game console, and PDA). In terms of the access to technology,
this group of preservice teachers fit in the image of digital natives.”

Most participants spent betweet 2 and 4 hours per day on compouters. Again, a digital native motif.

Participants expressed strong beliefs with regard to technology, and it’s ability to contribute to better teaching (82.8%) and better learning (79.3%) in their classrooms.

“However, their confidence in using technology
was not as strong as what would be expected from the digital natives. As
shown in Table 1, about half (48.2%) of participants felt that they did
well with computer technologies. One third of them reported they were
“neutral” about this statement, and 22.5% of them did not think that they
did well with computer technologies. Their confidence was even lower
with their ability to solve computer problems. Only 13.8% felt confident
that they could solve most of the problems with their computers.”

There appears to be a misnatch between affordance appreciation, and confidence in execution.

“However, when it came to learning technologies that would help them teach in the future, all (100%) participants reported interest or strong interest”

We can assume interest and motivation on the part of educators. Laurillard makes this point, and severl other studies I’ve read tend to show that educators believe they are motivated to learn, and are motivated to learn about technology when they feel it can improve their practice

p91 -In terms of personal tech use, the teachers tended to devote the largest amount of time to social media, and all the participants maintained one or more social media profiles, but this is primarily social networking. Use of wikis, blogs, podcasting etc was far from comprehensive.

32.7 % said they had no experience with blogging, 40 had no experience of developing a wiki. Onl;y 3.6 % self reported expertise with blogging, and 7.3 se;lf-reported expertise with wiki development. (p91)

“They lacked the experiences and expertise in using Web 2.0 technologies with great potential for classroom application, such as blogging and wikis.” p 92

“As preservice teachers, they lack the knowledge, skills, and experiences to integrate technology into classrooms to help them teach and to help their students learn, even  though they fully recognize the importance of doing so.”

“Addfitionally, although they express an overwhelming appreciation of the affordances technology might bring to their classrooms, yet reserved attitudes to technologuy deployment were a characteristic of their responses.”  – p90,91

“Their reserved attitudes, on the one hand, showed that they had a mature understanding of the complexity of technology integration in schools, but on the other hand, revealed that they might not be active users of technology in their own teaching.” p92

“In summary, these findings suggest that, although digital natives as
preservice teachers use technology extensively, their use of technology
has been mainly focused on and related to their social-communication activities and their learning activities as students. As preservice teachers,

t”hey lack the knowledge, skills, and experiences to integrate technology
into classrooms to help them teach and to help their students learn, even though they fully recognize the importance of doing so”

The study recognises and posits a proviso here. The surbvey is of ore-service teachers, in their first year, and measures of confidnce may reflect that lack of training and experience. Still, together with the Finnish study, this represents a useful insight into teachers in training, and the gaps, lacunae and opportunities their use of and attitude towards technology indicate.

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