Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Digital Imigrants - I will paste in my notes on the two Prensky readings.

Critical Summary DA 1
Article 1 Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants

Whilst reading these articles online, I have quoted key points from these documents. I have then commented about them, also about any relevant issues.

Students have changed. Today’s students are no longer the people our educational system was designed to teach. Which is due to the arrival and rapid dissemination of digital technology in the last decades of the 20th century. This is a point that is plain to see, and un-ignorable. ICT is an integral part of modern life.

Marc Prensky suggests that the way in which children think is so completely different to ours, their brain structure could even be different:
‘Students think and process information fundamentally differently from their predecessors. Different kinds of experiences lead to different brain structures,’ – Dr B Perry.

Prensky describes these children of the digital age as digital Natives - native speakers” of the digital language of computers, video games and the Internet. He describes all those born before this age as digital immigrants. Prensky suggest that although DI learn to adapt to these new ways (some even embracing them) they always retain, to some degree, their "accent," This is shown in differing levels, such as printing of emails. I think this is a very true conception.

Prensky goes on to suggest that for children the fact that there is this difference in ages :
school often feels pretty much as if we’ve brought in a population of heavily accented, unintelligible foreigners to lecture them. I think this is far too strong, I think ICT has its place and should be integrated further into each subject base, however it is not the only method of communication that children’s lives are enriched with.

Digital Natives are used to receiving information really fast. They like to parallel process and multi-task. They prefer their graphics. Digital Immigrants typically have very little appreciation for these new skills. Digital Immigrant teachers assume that learners are the same as they have always been, and that the same methods that worked for the teachers when they were students will work for their students now. I don’t agree with this last point, I don’t feel that lack of ICT knowledge equates to the assumption that nothings changed in the world. I think there are ways incorporate new methods and recognize the fact that our children’s learning has changed. I think that it also important here to remember that all children are individual and learn in individual ways.
Prensky suggests new methodologies should consider going faster, less step-by step, more in parallel, with more random access, among other things.

Future content is to a large extent, not surprisingly, digital and technological. But while it includes software, hardware, robotics, nanotechnology, genomics, etc. it also includes the ethics, politics, sociology, languages and other things that go with them. This ‘Future’ content is extremely interesting to today’s students. I think this is an important point to take on a teaching and learning perspective as interesting the children is key.

We need to invent Digital Native methodologies for all subjects, at all levels, using our students to guide us. I think that Prensky argues some very valid points within this article, which need to be addressed, however I think it is important to treat some aspects with caution and to bring in other learning theories.

Article 2
Do they really think differently?
Based on the latest research in neurobiology, there is no longer any question that stimulation of various kinds actually changes brain structures and affects the way people think, and that these transformations go on throughout life. The brain constantly reorganizes itself all our child and adult lives, a phenomenon technically known as neuroplasticity.
Scientific Learning’s Fast ForWard program requires students to spend 100 minutes a day, 5 days a week, for 5 to 10 weeks to create desired changes, because ―it takes sharply focused attention to rewire a brain.
Prensky draws conclusions from this, linking it to the video game playing culture of today’s children.

Prensky suggests that due to children’s saturation from the computer age they think in a different way to us. They develop hypertext minds. They leap around. It’s as though their cognitive structures were parallel, not sequential. I’m not convinced that about the evidence for a change, is my brain sequential or parallel – I would say a bit of both. I think it makes the assumption that all children think in the same way, which I would disagree with.
Prensky then goes on to argue that it has been suggested that they have short attention spans, he suggests this is just for the old ways of learning. He suggests that they in fact have good attention spans for games (or anything else that interests them). I think this is a important fact, getting children to hook into something is key to their learning and this could be done through games on the computer or fun activities which don’t involve the computer.
As a result of their experiences Digital Natives crave interactivity—an immediate response to their each and every action. I think this is a good point the best learning is not passive but interactive, and immediate response makes that response more effective.

One key area that appears to have been affected is reflection. There is less and less time and opportunity for reflection, and this development concerns many people. There is a great deal of evidence that children’s learning games that are well designed do produce learning.

Games capture their attention and make it happen. Prensky makes clear however that the design of these games must be right, the knowledge must correct and the games interactive and fun.


Somabula Blog said...

You are right in pointing out that we need to take learning theories into consideration. Luckily, ICT supports collaboration and helps us to take responsibility for our own learning.

Somabula Blog said...

Think of the colours you use. Purple on a dark background might look funky is somewhat difficult to read.