The Prensky Perspective

Last month while at the ECIS Technology Conference, I had the pleasure of listening to Marc Prensky’s keynote presentation. While his slides could use a bit of an update, I found his words inspiring and took notes about some of his key points and statements.

  • Teachers need to make the digital classroom feel like the world.
  • Trying to engage the kids with stuff we make or do for them is impossible.
  • The most fundamental thing technology does for us is let people connect.
  • There are no best practices anymore in any fast moving field like education. There are only good practices that we can share everyday. We have to experiment because we don’t know what works in this context. Video is the best sharing tool for this.

cc licensed ( BY NC SA ) flickr photo by carriezimmer:

Right before leaving for the conference I had read his article,  “Our Brains Extended”,  in the March, 2013 issue of Educational Leadership. Many points from the article were highlighted in his keynote as well.

Prensky argues, “Reading continues to be important- no one argues against teaching or learning it- but today, reading is no longer the number one skill students need to take from school to succeed. Technology is.”

He continues on to say that many adults would not believe in this statement and that fact demonstrates how little adults understand the role of technology in our students’ lives.

His statement is a big one. And, I’m certain that many teachers and curriculum designers haven’t made the leap to think about the reality of his words and how it changes what we know and do.

Prensky also stipulates, “Technology has become foundational to both education and life. Educators should think of technology in the same way they’ve long viewed reading- as a key to thinking about and knowing about the world.”

He uses the article to propose true redefinition of curriculum, particularly at the elementary level. He focuses on three areas- Effective Thinking (creative and critical thinking), Effective Action (goal setting, planning, project management, and more), and Effective Relationships (emotional intelligence). The final area he calls Effective Accomplishment (what to do with what you’ve learned). You can read more details in the article, and I hope you will.

But, I’m intrigued. Are there schools already reaching toward a design like this? Are teachers and parents really ready to throw out the subject areas we’ve come to accept as core to education?

Perhaps there’s a Prensky school in the not-so-distant future.

I wouldn’t be surprised.


Article citation:

Educational Leadership
March 2013 | Volume 70 | Number 6
Technology-Rich Learning Pages 22-27

Course 2 Final Project

Sitting here wondering how we’ve come to the end of Course 2 already when it seems like  yesterday this CoETaIL journey was just beginning. But, of course, since then, I’ve become a diligent reader of my ever-growing RSS feed, started checking my Twitter account a bit more regularly (and perhaps even using it from time to time), and found a growing desire to keep pushing forward to learn more. I think that this is the greatest accomplishment, finding that motivation within yourself. It is what we strive for with the students in our classes.

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#intrinsic motivation?

For this project, of working to develop an Acceptable Use Policy for your school, I responded to a Twitter request from Mike Nonato who works at Pechersk School International in Ukraine. We took a relatively relaxed approach to this project, basically just sending each other Google Docs and emails and offering feedback along the way. I’ve read some blog posts that seem to indicate a more formal process and document, but I think what we’ve done works all the same. You can find Mike’s blog here.

Since I currently work at the American School of Milan, I set out first to find out what kind of AUP was already in place. I found that our Parent/Student Handbook offers a few pages of information and rules mostly designed for our Upper School One-to-One Laptop Program. (Our program is essentially a bring your own device model, where the students purchase a computer that must meet certain requirements. We offer a model (Dell Latitude) that many students purchase and others bring a different device of their choosing.) There is a section on Appropriate Technology Usage Guidelines, stating that you must bring a working laptop to school every day, that you are expected to have a fully charged battery and bring your charger, that playing digital games not assigned by a teacher is prohibited, along with using file sharing software and downloading, distributing and collecting pirated software and other digital media. Consequences are referred to the general discipline section of the handbook.

There are no separate guidelines written for the elementary school. So, since Mike and I are both Integration Specialists in K-5 settings much of our conversation centered on what we would want to use for students in this age group.

The document that I’ve put together is something that I think could work for many elementary buildings. I researched some of the AUPs from other schools and referred often to International School of Bangkok‘s document designed for grades 4 and 5. (Thanks to Cheryl Terry for posting this on her blog.) I thought it was a great jumping off point and gave me a framework for how I wanted to format to be.

Here’s what I’ve put together. Because it is a K-5 setting I think that using positive statements is important, along with keeping it short and to the point. I think that with grades 3-5 you could discuss this document as it is, but for K-2 a more broken down version using less text and more pictures and images would be important.

Thoughts? I’d appreciate the feedback and hope to work with my school administration to consider implementing a document like this and allow us to be proactive in our approach to technology use.

Fixtures of Youth Culture

The beginning of the CoETaIL program…I am so excited! Not necessarily to be back in school again, but to part of a program that I know will offer me professional development that is actually capable of changing the way I live my life and do my job every day. When you think about that, it is really profound to think about how something has so many possibilities and opportunities built in it.

I have been following Kim Cofino’s blog, and many others as a result, since I was hired for my first international teaching position this past spring. What I read about happening in other schools is very inspirational and yet, at times, frustrating, because I know that my school and I have not quite figured it all out just yet. With this in mind, I was thrilled to see an online CoETaIL program starting up so that I could benefit from this community and share what I am learning with my colleagues.

After reading the articles for this week, I found myself most intrigued by a few words in the Living and Learning with New Media article. In the very first sentence they mention how social media, iPods and the like are “fixtures of youth culture” and this is yet so true but so difficult for those of us who are “older” to recognize the shift that has taken place. Our student have grown up with cell phones and portable devices and don’t know what a CD or tape was needed for. When I try to teach 2nd graders to save a document, I always laugh telling them to press the “floppy disk” button Microsoft still uses because they have no idea what I am referring to. So, as a member of an older generation (ugh, yikes!) we must learn to adapt our classrooms and strategies to these ever changing technologies.

In the same article, a student mentions that Facebook “sets up your relationships for the next time you meet them to have them be a bigger part of your life.” I don’t think I had even thought of Facebook as a tool that works in this manner, but considering this statement makes sense. Since I’m able to stay in touch with people I don’t live near, it allows me to get to know them through what they share on their Facebook wall and learn more about them. I thought this was rather insightful from someone so young.

To sum up this first post, I’m going to reference a clip of the Today Show from 1994 that I was reminded of earlier this school year. Our school’s Director of Technology, Stephen Reiach (@sreiach on Twitter), showed this clip at the beginning of the year to remind us how things are different for our current students. The seniors in high schools around the world this year…were born the year this segment aired. Enjoy!

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