‘Digital Native’ and ‘Digital Immigrant’ Discourses

A Critique
  • Siân Bayne
  • Jen Ross
Part of the Educational Futures Rethinking Theory and Practice book series (EDUFUT, volume 50)


This paper takes a critical approach to a discourse still commonly applied in our discussions and understandings of the relationship between practitioners in higher education and the new digital technologies – that of the distinction between the socalled ‘digital native’ and ‘digital immigrant’. We critique this over-simplistic binary from a range of perspectives, highlighting its tendency to de-privilege the role of the teacher, its implicit alignment with an understanding of higher education as market-driven and commodified, and its reliance on a series of highly problematic and dangerously deterministic metaphors. We end the paper with a call for a more carefully critical and nuanced understanding of the effects of new technologies on the practices and subject positions of learners and teachers in higher education.


High Education Asylum Seeker Digital Technology Subject Position Immigrant Student 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Sense Publishers 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Siân Bayne
    • 1
  • Jen Ross
    • 2
  1. 1.University of EdinburghUK
  2. 2.University of EdinburghUK

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