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This content is taken from the Coventry University, The Alan Turing Institute & Macmillan Education's online course, Understanding English Dictionaries. Join the course to learn more.

Are you a ‘digital native’?

A distinction is often made between those who have grown up entirely in the internet-connected world (the so-called ‘digital natives’) and those who started to use the internet as adults (the so-called ‘digital immigrants’).

Look at the descriptions of digital natives and digital immigrants below.

Which description fits you better?

Digital native

  • You prefer receiving information quickly from multiple multimedia sources.
  • You like to do lots of different tasks at the same time.
  • You prefer to get your information from pictures, sounds and video rather than from texts.
  • You like to click on hyperlinks to jump to new information.
  • You like to interact with lots of other people.
  • You like to acquire new information the moment you need it.
  • You prefer instant rewards.

Digital immigrant

  • You prefer slow and controlled release information from limited sources.
  • You like to do one task at a time.
  • You prefer to get your information from text rather than from pictures, sounds and video.
  • You like information to be presented in a logical sequential order.
  • You like to work on your own.
  • You like to acquire new information in case one day you will need it.
  • You like to wait for your rewards.

Your task

Which description fits you better? Do you think your answers reflect:

  • Your own individual personality?
  • Your level of experience with Web 2.0 technology?
  • A mixture of both?

Do your answers reveal anything about:

  • How you prefer to find information about words?
  • The kind of dictionaries that you like to use?
  • How willing you would be to contribute to crowdsourced and/or collaborative dictionaries?


Bessenyei, I. (2008) ‘Learning and Teaching in the Information Society. Elearning 2.0 and Connectivism’. Journal of Social Informatics [online], 1-14. available from http://www.mmiweb.org.uk/egyptianteachers/site/downloads/Besseneyi_2008.pdf [4 November 2019]

Further reading

This article, about eLearning 2.0 and Connectivism, gives a fuller account of how Web 2.0 has enabled learners to form their own online learning communities.

You may be interested I reading this recent article from World Psychiatry, which discusses how use of online sources might affect people’s concentration and memory.

Next in Step 1.12 we will look in more detail at Wikipedia, a collaborative dictionary, and Urban Dictionary, a crowdsourced dictionary.

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This article is from the free online course:

Understanding English Dictionaries

Coventry University