Rise of the Super-Digital Native

Can you imagine? Bear with me as I dream.

The generation of youth that has grown up in this digital age with advanced technology at their fingertips since day one -- the digital natives -- will soon teach the generation after them.

Then that generation will teach the next generation.

And what will happen? Perhaps that third generation will be far removed from some of the pedagogical methods we've traditionally used. Perhaps they will be so immersed in high-level use of technology for teaching and learning that education will look radically different. Perhaps that generation will use technology for teaching and learning in ways that we can't even envision at the moment.

Behold the super-digital native.

The super-digital native will be bold. The super-digital native will be fearless. The super-digital native will be equipped with best practices for engaging critically with technology for teaching and learning.

The reality of our current times is that we are really shaping the world for that generation. We are furiously experimenting with new technologies, pedagogies, teaching strategies and more. But we must remember that the technology boom and the shift into the digital age is relatively recent -- perhaps the past 20 years or so. It has snuck up on us very quickly.

So we have been doing what we can to make sense of it all -- trying things left and right, hoping that we hit a homerun. Sometimes we hit one, sometimes we don't. Through it all, there is just so much uncertainty. We're not really sure what works. So we struggle with whether to keep doing things in the ways we've done them in the past, or if we should try some of the new ways that are possible due to advances in technology, or if we should do some kind of combination of both.

Meanwhile, the current crop of digital natives effortlessly incorporate technology into their lives, and maybe aren't as worried about merging old ways with new ways. Maybe they're really just interested in setting their own path with the new ways of communicating, learning, sharing and collaborating. Maybe digital natives aren't phased by the challenges we often let hold us back.

The great thing is that the digital natives of today will teach the next generation. That generation will learn from today's digital natives and practice better ways to critically engage in technology for teaching and learning. There will be many "aha" moments... moments we frustratingly can't get to in our current times.

That generation, with their "aha" moments, will teach the next generation. These will be the super-digital natives. They will benefit from all of the experimenting, research, discussion and hard work of the generations before them. They could be empowered to critically engage in technology for teaching and learning in truly revolutionary ways.

Yes, in the future they will be super. But only if you and I can imagine it now. Can you?

If you can imagine this, if you agree that it will take a couple of generations before we really figure out the best ways to use technology for teaching and learning, there is still something you can do. Everything starts with the digital natives of today. They are incredibly important towards our future. So that's at least everyone currently in a K-12 school everywhere. That's students in the suburbs, urban communities, developing countries... everywhere. We must pour our knowledge, wisdom and support into them, but we also must learn from them. We must allow them to be creative, to explore and to discover. We need to know what makes them tick, so we can do our best to set them up for success.

The digital natives of today are the ones who will be pressured to take all of the present technological wildness and make it make sense for the next generation. They are the starting pitchers in the game. If we can set them up for success, that will bring us one step closer to those super-digital natives who will flip this world upside-down with what they will have to offer.

The rise of the super-digital native starts with how we empower the digital natives of today.

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