Technology, Teaching, and Digital Imposterism

Are you a digital native? If you’re reading my blog, the odds are you aren’t. If you don’t know what that is, you definitely aren’t. If you were a part of the following exchange, you absolutely, definitely, are NOT!

Person One texts Person Two

Person Two responds, and then realizes he isn’t very good at texting quickly. Person two tries calling Person One, but no answer.

Person Two (via text, having seen Person One show up on gchat on the computer): “Go to gchat, i can type faster that way”

Person One (via email from her phone): “I don’t know how to start a chat!”

Person Two (via email, typed on computer): “Ok… answer your phone!”

Person Two calls Person One, Person One answers…

Person Two (on phone, the old fashioned way… you know… actually talking, and not to Siri): “Wow, you’re really good at this technology thing…”

Person One (via email, after end of phone conversation): “This is like the funniest email correspondence ever.”


One doesn’t need to be an anthropologist to figure out that Persons One and Two obviously are NOT digital natives. Most of my students, however, are.

This year I’m teaching my Modern Global Issues (MGI) class as a part of a 1-1 iPad pilot program. Prior to volunteering for this course, the extent of my experience with an iPad consisted of playing tap and pop and spider solitaire. I’d never even thought of the implications of this type of technology for teaching. Teaching was something done in a classroom with a whiteboard, pen and paper, books, etc…

This is all changing though. I have not used a pen for anything relating to MGI at this point. All homework has been submitted through either Evernote or Google Drive. Each has its ups and downs, but they’re functional at this point. Assessment might be a challenge – how do you allow the student use of the technology to take a test and monitor to make sure it’s being used appropriately at all times? What apps are best for creating new content? What are the limitations of various apps in terms of collaborative work? If I were a digital native, I’d probably have the answers already.

I’m not a digital native, however. I’m just asked to pretend to be.* Thus, what I call Digital Imposterism – I can present myself as cool, calm, and knowledgeable, but the reality is it’s all new to me too. iPads weren’t even invented yet when I started teaching. My computer was bigger than the desk I’m currently sitting at. I never will be a digital native, but hopefully I’ll be able to transition away from imposterism and approach something more akin to naturalize digital citizenship. Until then, however, when I can seamlessly use the iPad for all of my pedagogical needs, my use of technology is going to look something like this:

Yes, I need to use all three to function at a reasonable level....

Yes, I need to use all three to function at a reasonable level….

*Ok, some literary license taken here… I’m actually quite open about the fact that this is a learning process for me as well as for the kids, and the school knows/encourages this. But who wants the facts to get in the way of the story?

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One comment

  1. Does this mean you can tell me how to get my iPad to regurgitate all of my contact list information that mysteriously disappeared last week? or do your students know????

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