Sunday, November 11, 2012

Reflecting on Prensky

Out of all of the essays and articles we have read in this class, it seems like Marc Prensky gets it the most. "Passion is the students' true motivator. Once a student has a passion to know or do something - anything - the chances are excellent that he or she will do much, on their own, to follow it." As great as technology is and can be, it's useless without people who are operating it with no direction or dedication. Most students have the tools necessary, but self-motivation is critical. 

However, it is equally important that teachers teach these students how to use basic technology. As Prensky mentions in Teaching the Right Stuff, "even where the things are going the best, where the new tools are being fully utilized by all students... the students are already behind the technological curve. Because we are not teaching our students the tools of tomorrow." This past week, a class of my students did a pre-assessment activity by going to the computer lab and working on a webquest related to Charles Dickens and A Christmas Carol. The complete lack of any technological literacy was dispiriting, to say the least. The entire class of 7th graders had no idea how to double space a document in Word. The concept of tabbed browsing went right over their heads. When I told them that they could email the document to themselves or post it into their backpack on EdModo, they were clueless. This is basic technological know-how, yet whatever it is they are learning in their Computer Literacy class is obviously insufficient. And these are the things that Prensky wants us to move away from, in favor of video, virtual communities, and programming, three things that require a strong computer-literate foundation.

If there is one thing I disagree with, it's Prensky's assertion that being able to write a good letter, report, or essay is worthless for today's job seekers. I find it hard to believe that essays and reports are going away, and arguing that "at the most I would write blog posts, or perhaps articles" seems to be more of an issue of semantics. Good writing leads to good thinking, and being able to incorporate all forms of writing, and not just shorter text mediums like blog posts or emails, would be best for student development.   

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