Preface: I watched three great presentations about kids over the past few weeks. The first at Fjord’s MobileCamp London; was mobile focused. The second, at Brandlicensing Expo 2007 was about preschoolers and their relationships with branded/licensed toys. The third was Marc Presky’s plenary presentation at Handheld Learning 2007 on kids, technology and learning.
All three presentations were—in some way—about play and discussed (directly or otherwise) many of the reasons technology is so compelling to children. The similarities and contrasts in these presentations; despite their differing audiences and subject matter were also interesting.
Talk 3: Marc Prensky on “Why kids are no longer ‘little us’s”
…paraphrasing from lots of notes unless stated…
“Email is for old people” (â€“ A headline in The Chronicle of Higher Education)
We haven’t seen much in our lives. Sure there’s been man on the moon but before, things moved pretty slow overall. Now technology makes things move fast—and they’re about to get even faster. Many of the things we use today didn’t exist 5 years ago; and probably won’t exist in 5 years time. Many of us also have jobs that didn’t exist five years ago. Who knows what we’ll be doing 10 years from today.
How can we (teachers) learn all this stuff?
But young people only know the fast stuff and are “born to the idea of rapid change” (Nicola Griffith in Slow River (1995)) The stuff that feels threatening and confusing to us is empowering to “digital natives” (PDF). We’ve been teaching kids to solve problems with the tools we had. Now the problems are changing. We need new tools for these new problems.
Teachers need to see their jobs as helping students invent new tools.
New tools will be digital and they will be invented on the devices kids have. When you have 1 computer for every 3-4 students, it’s just not enough to give them the opportunities they need.
“We grow up interacting through computers and through our cell phones and that’s how we learn.” (a graduate student)
Old teaching styles (lectures) are no good for today’s young people. Why shouldn’t they be taught in new ways [blogs, mobile, social networks, peer learning, self-directed discovery, experimentation etc.].
In 5-10 years our society will be cashless, phones will have super computing power (will predict the weather?!), implanted/wearble real-time environments…within 30 years, technology will be a billion time more powerful. We don’t know what that means.
Deciding to put a computer here and there in a classroom is missing the point. How will we deal with the massive change that’s coming?
“You look at technology as a tool, we look at it as a foundation that’s integrated into what we do” (a student)
Who are these kids anyhow? The one certainty is that they are not little “us”s any more. What worked for us will not help them.
“Today’s learners are not the learners our system and teachers were designed and trained to teach.” Why are they like this? [Goes on to display statistics showing the number of hours spent by the average (?) young person playing video games, watching TV, texting, IM-ing. Reading (a paper book) barely figures on the list.]
“[Young people] are not just using technology differently today, but are approaching their life and their daily activities differently because of the technology.” (–Net Day “Speak-up Day” Summary )
Welcome to the emerging online life of the digital native: the daily universals that make up the life and [personal, social and professional] development of today’s kids: Communicating (IM, chat) , Sharing (Blogs, MySpace), Buying & Selling (ebay, craigslist), Exchanging (peer-to-peer), Learning (Wikipedia, You Tube, search), Meeting (Second Life) etc. [Partial list only, the entire list really makes you think...]
This isn’t new stuff. We had to do and learn this stuff too but kids do all this digitally. The largest differentiator is the social networking as a component of much of this.
Our job is (should be) to help them make this happen as part of their education. We have to be part of the solution to the digital divide. Why are so many kids bored with school? They have to power-down at school compared to life outside of school. Their passion is the future but we are teaching them the past.
They are bored because—we’re not teaching them the right stuff.
Why not teach programming, multi-language texting, simulation… We need to teach 21st Century skills.
They are bored because—we’re not teaching them the right way.
(Metaphor) Kids used to grow up in the dark. Teachers (adults) were the ones who showed them the light. Now kids grow up in the light….this changes everything. They are already learning—[on their own, their own way, their own tools, their own groups and networks.] School teaches legacy stuff and provides credentials. “After school” is the “future learning”—the stuff they need to know. We are teaching them face to face, slowly, top down, linear, one size fits all when they want to learn online, faster, bottom-up, multi-threaded and through discovery.
The old paradigm: bored kids being taught. The new paradigm is engaged kids teaching themselves (with guidance.)
Technology adoption has several stages: hiding, panic, acceptance, comfort and finally power. Kids know that technology provides power, especially because today’s technology is programmable. [They can change it, adapt it, personalize it..]
Why is programming important? We do it every day….at home (TV, thermostat), work (problem solving), school, government (legislation), tools (games, blogs.) The curriculum includes programming as well: maths, science, languages (dictionaries), english (research, analysis) etc.
“Do we know how to help our kids learn to program in more and more sophisticated ways? What if we don’t….”
[Many thanks to Mark Prensky for sending me a copy of his presentation to use as backup to my notes. This presentation is well worth seeing if you ever have the opportunity. ]