These past few weeks I’ve started to see where it is that I actually fit in as an educator attempting to be “current” in the use of technology. I am a teacher who is sometimes, but not always, as Marc Prensky puts it, “doing old things in new ways.” This isn’t a bad place to be, and I am perhaps more fortunate to be teaching internationally where technology seems to garner more support from all stakeholders than it does state side where it regularly runs into social and economical resistance. This space that I fill presently though is not where I want to be nor is it where I should be if I am to be a successful educators for today’s tech savvy youth or even more importantly my own children.
In the past I felt pretty good about the amount of technology that I integrated into my classes. All images and artist biographies introduce are no longer on slides and posters, but in PowerPoint presentations on LCD’s. A large chunk of a perspective unit is completed using an online interactive website. Logo designs on Photoshop elements. A Digital camera is glued to my hip to be used at any moment for any variety of other projects. Student portfolios are digital, hosted on an external site for all family and friends to access at any time. All this however is nothing new. It’s “doing old things in new ways”.
I was struck by Prensky’s terms “digital natives” and “digital immigrant” to describe today’s youth compared with today’s teachers. What comes so natural for students today is completely foreign to a lot of educators. Prensky made reference to this relationship being like a new language for the “digital immigrant” where they maintain their “pre-digital ‘accents’”. This however is much bigger than learning a second language. It’s an entire new culture within our existing one and for me personally it will require a mass rewiring of my own way of thinking. The only way I’ll be able to really learn how to do “new things in new ways” is by listening to those who know how to use these tools best. Prensky and countless others have been saying all along that it is time to let the kids be the teachers. They will find the new ways to do new things with the existing technologies.
Marc Prensky’s article “Shaping Tech for the Classroom” found on http://www.edutopia.org/adopt-and-adapt