SugarHouse Mama

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Digital Immigrant

Through a series of fortunate finds this morning, I came across a very interesting article.

The author, Marc Prensky, is an internationally acclaimed thought leader, speaker, writer, consultant, and game designer in the critical areas of education and learning. He graduated from Harvard and Yale (which means what he writes must be both good and accurate, right?). Anyway, the article is short and easy to read. It's premise is that teaching methods and content are no longer effective for the new generation of digital natives.

He starts off by defining Digital Immigrants and Digital Natives. Digital Immigrants are those, like me, who were introduced to technology (computers, email, cell phones, etc) after their formative years. Digital Natives are those K-college students today who grew up with the technology.

Remember when your computer class in school consisted of a 30 minute trip to the computer lab where you played Oregon Trail? Remember when calculators were not permitted in the class - remember being taught how to use a calculator in math class? Remember when Zack Morris' mobile phone seemed totally far out? lol. If you do, you are a Digital Immigrant.

Prensky goes on to state that the way teachers teach and even the content they teach does not appeal to Digital Natives. Not only that, their brains have been formed differently and it's probable that they can't "go back". That means education needs to step up and meet the demands of the Digital Native; content and methodology need to change.

We need to go faster, use less step-by step, more in parallel instruction, with more random access. Our content needs to include all of our traditional curriculum: reading, writing, arithmetic, logical thinking, understanding the writings and ideas of the past, etc; and we need to add "future" curriculum. The things that are interesting and intriguing to Digital Natives: software, hardware, robotics, nanotechnology, genomics, etc. it also includes the ethics, politics, sociology, languages and other things that go with them.

The problem is, of course, who is going to teach the new curriculum, and how do you successfully adapt the traditional curriculum to the new methodology?

As a Digital Immigrant whose first email account was set up in college, I'm pretty sure I don't have the answers. But I do know I'm eagerly awaiting the people who do, and I'll eat up every bit of it in an effort to teach my children in ways that are meaningful to them.

To read the article click here.

To visit some of the educational gaming sites Marc has created click on the links below:

Social Impact Games
Department of Defense Gaming Community

1 comment:

Aimee Smith said...

As someone who spends time with these digital natives I have come to realize this much... the digital divide is HUGE! I mean when I was in 6th grade I did not know what HTML was, let alone who to write it. But, to give an little glimmer of hope I can tell you that as a studying education major I have taken a full semester long course on this exact subject and the research is fascinating! I think the courses required for teachers will only increase, but for now I can say that they have started to try and close the gap at least a little!