Digital Immigrants Too Much For You? How About Digital In-Laws?

There seems to be a low of tweets and posts about getting rid of the whole Digital Natives / Digital Immigrants analogy. The authors of these arguments bring up some valid points. Presnky's idea of natives vs. immigrants creates a dichotomy that suggests once you're an immigrant, you'll always be an immigrant. While you may take on some of the qualities of the natives, your "accent" will probably show through. The whole analogy also suggests a young vs. old mentality.

I do like Prensky's ideas and I use the terms quite a bit in teacher training and staff development. But, what if there were another way to look at this? Being a lover of analogies and stories, I started thinking about how else we could describe this digital divide. Then, it hit me.

When I first met my wife's mother and grandparents, I must admit, I think they were less than impressed. I was (and still am) a heck of a guy, but I was an outsider. And likewise, she with my family. It's the curse of being the in-law.

In-laws never do things exactly the way the rest of the family does things. The Christmas tree isn't decorated on the same day. The turkey isn't cooked the same way. In-laws bring different perspectives to an otherwise happy and whole family. But, that perspective isn't always bad. Change can help a family discover new traditions. And, there's always room for more to love.

And, once an in-law has "paid their dues" and it's apparent they aren't going anywhere, they do finally get accepted as one of the family. My mother-in-law and I get along great now. I love her with all my heart. And many of my wife's younger cousins have always know me as part of the family. To them, I've always been around.

So it is with technology. There are some who, while not born into technology, are now inetgral parts of that family. There weren't computers when I was growing up, but look at me now! Sure the students I work with have always known computers, but they look to me for guidance. The "in-law" is now the Godfather!

I know that the idea of Digital Family and Digital In-Laws will never catch on quite like Prenssky's Digital Natives and Immigrants. But, what the heck. It's all relative.

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