Digital Nomads

I have always loved the term Digital Natives coined by Mark Prensky (thanks Heather)… UNTIL… I had a conversation with my fantastically inspiring Principal.  She got me thinking about the word native and whether a native was the most entirely appropriate word.  Pedantic yes, but a fun topic of conversation for a geek such as myself!

A native belongs to ONE place, living and growing there.  Do our students belong to ONE place?  Or are they able and capable of belonging to more than one place? Is the one place they are from Digital-Land?  Or is this whole myriad of technology that they are confronted with where they roam?  I would lean towards an adaptable generation.  A generation that is able to move from place to place, from technology to technology, able to handle multiple digital literacies all at the one time.


When the ever inspiring Mrs A, mentioned the word Digital Nomads, light bulbs flashed upstairs, and I knew she was onto a good thing.  Our students have no fixed abode in Digital-Land.  They were not born in one technology and remain there until the end.  They are nomadic and move from place to place from gadget to gadget.  The move with the seasons, with the teachers, with friends and parents. They are staying within the boundaries of technology of course, but they are not from one land with one language and one literacy.  I would argue that our students are Digital Nomads, and my job is to help guide them while they are in my corner of this technology territory and nurture some skills that they can take with them as they move to the next place, next season, next year.  This blog is my digital residence for now where I can share some of the nomadic wanderings of my class this year.  I hope you join us as we experience the nomadic life of some Grade 3/4’s in Victoria, Australia.

11 thoughts on “Digital Nomads

  1. Hi Aine,

    Congrats on the new blog!

    I too used to use the term digital natives but a discussion with some of my PLN a few years ago made me abandon that.

    We can’t assume that just because children are growing up with technologies that they use them or use them well, creatively and safely. The role of the teacher in guiding technology use is more important now than ever.

    I do love digital nomads though – go Mrs A! Let’s help our kids to be more nomadic 😆


    • Hi Kathleen,

      Thanks for the great comment!

      I agree with the term digital native and precisely the reason it did not sit well! There doesn’t have to be a term, suppose we don’t need to label them, but I just thought children are far more nomadic with technology than they are native to technologies.

      And yes Mrs A says to recycle and steal her term as much as we like! So feel free to use it 🙂


  2. Hi, Welcome to the wonderful world of blogging.

    I really enjoyed your use of the term “digital nomad” and your post resonated with me. I have always felt that digital native and digital immigrant that Mark Prensky coined is a bit too dogmatic especially when I look at how far I have come. I certain fall into the immigrant position but that doesn’t sit right with me anymore than digital native seems to fit my students. To me it implies that children are born with an innate understanding of technology and how it all fits together. It seems to indicate that somehow in the womb children are now different just because of the outside world. (Ok, I admit that it taking it a bit far but that interpretation seems to be there.)

    In actual fact children that are born into our digital world are not intimidated by the the world around them because for them it is their reality. They do not fear technology but they do not just intuitively know how to use it or operate it. Just that their approach is different.

    Therefore, I think the term “digital nomad” fits well for all concerned even a digital immigrant like me. I was a stranger wandering in a strange land when I came to know about Web 2.0 but gradually found a direction with the support of many guides. As I see it – that is my job as an educator for my students who fall under that digital native category – I am their guide, not their leader because often I learn as much from them as they do from me.

    Looking forward to reading more…

    • Thanks Heather for such a thoughtful and engaging comment. I thought I was sitting next to you in the staff room over a cuppa chatting away about the term!

      I didn’t know who had coined the original phrase and I will go back into the post to give credit to him. He was on the right track, but I think we as teachers now need to tweak it slightly for it to sit better with the students that we are teaching now.

      Your interpretation did not take it too far, because as you said, the womb has not changed in 100’s of years, only the outside world. And when we come to technology, or our students come to a new technology it is like wandering in a strange land and it is fantastic to have someone guide you to ease those fears. As you said, our students sometimes don’t have those fears, but some still do so they could not be native, could they?

      I do want to explore this idea of a guide vs leader in further posts cause that is where I see myself and happy to see others out there feeling that is where we fit in!
      Thanks again for a great comment.

  3. Congrats on the new blog.

    I love the name. I agree that digital natives/immigrants is a debate that needs to be put to rest and I absolutely love the title of your blog.


    • Thanks for stopping by Stephanie.

      And there seems to be plenty of teachers out there uncomfortable with the idea of a native/immigrant. Glad the title resonates with you and look forward to sharing more in the future.


  4. It will be interesting reading about guide vs leader. I really like the idea. I talk about myself being a life long learner and occasionally use the term Master Learner rather than teacher to try and get the idea across to my students that we never stop learning. I think that is where so many teachers sort of lose the plot. They don’t go forward. Anyway, that is more for another discussion – maybe I should write on my own blog eh!!!! 🙂

    By the way, how do you pronounce your name?


  5. Heather,

    I agree! And YES you should write your own blog post! Do you have a blog I can check out?

    My name is Irish for Anne and is pronounced (Awn-ya)- sort-of-ish!


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