Skip menu

Announcing the Demise of the Digital Native

Wednesday 3 July: Conference day one, 4:30pm – 5:30pm parallel symposium



Room 7 – 301-G053 Med Chem



Kerry Russo
James Cook University, Australia

Associate Professor Jo Coldwell-Neilson
Deakin University, Australia



We challenge the assumption that students entering higher education are digitally prepared to navigate a digital learning environment and we explore strategies to ensure students are able to develop into digitally literate graduates. Students from low SES areas at poorly digitally resourced schools tend to be less digitally fluent than students from high SES areas at well-resourced schools. Digital fluency is defined as the ability to create, re-formulate knowledge and to move with ease in a digital environment.

Digital literacy, the foundation for digital fluency, is the ability to identify and use technology confidently, creatively and critically to effectively meet the demands and challenges of living, learning and working in a digital society (Coldwell-Neilson, 2018). Supporting Russo’s findings, Coldwell-Neilson found that there is a significant mismatch between academic staff expectations, and their observations, of students’ digital literacy capabilities.

Therefore, digitally underprepared students could be disadvantaged if unsupported in a digital learning environment. Prenksy’s (2001) concept of a Digital Native, defined as those who grew up with technology, was flawed. Research demonstrates that extensive use of mobile technologies does not readily translate into being digitally literate nor does it provide the skills needed to navigate a digitally enhanced learning environment.


Target audience

The design of higher education digital learning environments assumes students are digitally fluent. As educators we must start a conversation to identify what support is needed to enable students to participate fully in these environments. The symposium is pitched at academics teaching undergraduate programs, educational designers and university administrators.


Intended outcome for participants

The intended outcome is to build a frame of reference for the development of student support structures.


Outline of discussion format

We will initiate discussion through two short videos, one defining digital literacy and the other exploring the mismatch in expectations of digitally fluent students. These will set the scene and provide participants with an understanding of the digital divide.

Using The LEGO®SERIOUS PLAY®, a “hands on, minds on” methodology, we will generate innovative and creative discussion on strategies to build digital fluency. Participants will build 3D models for each question posed. Lego packs will be provided. Small groups of participants will share practice and build narratives to identify if a digital divide is emerging in their educational practice.


Presentation topic


Print Friendly, PDF & Email