From Katherine Eitel Monday Morning Stretch:
…an important distinction educators make about learners in today’s world. “Digital Natives” are learners who have never known a world prior to the internet, smartphones, and instant information. They move effortlessly and simultaneously between multiple devices, develop their own personal system of speed typing, and socialize and interface with their world in an intuitive and completely different way than their older counterparts, “digital immigrants.” A proud member myself, digital immigrants DO remember a world prior to the World Wide Web (Tom says that term alone puts me firmly in this category!) And though we love our laptops, tablets, and smartphones and even have a Facebook and Instagram account, compared to Digital Natives, we underutilize them and learn most of our expanded knowledge by watching the younger generation do what they do so naturally. We still reach for the dictionary occasionally, put on a watch every morning, enjoy the smell of a real book and the feel of turning actual pages, and… if we’re honest… likely keep a spare Yellow Pages book around, just in case. We have a foot firmly in both worlds.
I believe there is yet a third category still walking the planet: the Digital Dinosaur. They are the aging population who most likely had a baby boomer adult child give them their computer as a loving gift and taught them how to turn it on and send an email. But they never really “immigrated” and there is nothing intuitive about how they approach these machines because, for them, the whole mess defies logic.
Katherine uses her experience with the three types of digital learners to make a powerful case for personalized customer service. I believe understanding the three learners will also help us utilize technology in our offices.
In my experience one of the big barriers to high tech implementation in dentistry is not the tech but the people. Dentists frequently ask me what system they should buy and I do have my favorites but the successful use of technology in dentistry has at least as much to do with the people using it as the technology itself. In other words it is not just stuff it is also staff.
If you have a staff full of digital immigrants they will need more training than natives. But even more importantly immigrants need to see why and embrace the change. If the dentist is an immigrant he/she will need to re-evaluate office procedures and modify the workflow to optimize the new technology.
It is too easy to just stay with the status quo and twist the technology into a knot making it fit our old systems. To natives the old systems make no sense. It is as if someone tied a horse to the front of a car to get it going.