Prensky is a good provocateur but his slogans and analysis have been seriously critiqued

the problem with prensky
Most people involved in teaching and training will insist that learners today are “different” than learners of “yesterday”.
Today, learners have shorter attention spans.
(Do they?)
Today, learners are more adept at multi-tasking.
(Are they?)
Today, learners process information differently.
(Do they?)
There is however very little supportable evidence to suggest that these differences actually exist ...

twitch speed (part 2)
One way in which I may misread Prensky is the degree to which he is describing the differences (as he sees them) between “natives” and “immigrants”, versus celebrating them. I usually read his stuff as mainly the latter - and I think this is his take, that the changes are almost uniformly for the better... The question of whether the change is ‘better’ or just ‘different’ certainly applies here. Indeed, in describing the increasing need for immediate feedback and constant stimulation, Prensky could almost be making the same case as Neil Postman does in ‘Amusing Ourselves to Death’. Except with the opposite opinion on whether this is a good thing or not. - Daniel Livingstone

I stated above that linear thinking and processing could perhaps be renamed reasoning. What about parallel processing and random access? Does this lead to disjointed, mixed-up thinking? I think we have to recognise that thinking about too many things at once and replacing focussed attention with a channel-surfing approach to data collection might lead to severe problems with analysis....

In the 21st century the skills of recognising what information is relevant, and understanding why and how will continue to valuable life and work-place skills. Having access to more and more information may be making this more important than before. The internet-age brings a vast increase in access to data, facts and factoids. Critically evaluating and analysing this will require some good old fashioned reasoning.
- Daniel Livingstone

marc prensky vs digital immigrants in adelaide
seb: a lot of what is developed (games, whatever) has modern capitalism / consumerism / market as an underlying driving force and ought to be critiqued from that perspective
pete: engagement is essential starting point, worthwhile learning is fun, push is in decline - we need shared learning, mutual respect, "consumer" co-creation
mike: "universal truths" are suspect, why should reading (Emma) be priviledged over film (Clueless) - digitial immigrants may emotionally privilege reading over everything else but there is no logical justification for this

literacy wars
... the literacy wars are hotting up.
Literacy of traditional school: 3 R's plus sit still, listen to the teacher, take notes (broadcast)
Literacy of game play: Play games, solve problems, level up (have fun while you learn what?)
Literacy of computer programming: use logic, functions, conditionals, debugging etc. to solve particular types of problems (higher order thinking?)
Literacy of the two way web: search, blogs, wikis, podcasts, IM etc. (learn to use the universal pipe)
... the concept of literacy keeps changing, it's a moving target, and that when we disagree and argue it might be because we value one literacy over another. And not because that literacy is necessarily "better" but because we grew up with it and are more comfortable with it. All of the above literacies have some value depending on the context. I think our job as teachers is to combine them in creative ways that do engage and not enrage our students. (BK)

marc prenskys adelaide presentations
  1. Change is accelerating, get used to it. There are digital natives and digital immigrants - I think this distinction is quite useful in the way he developed it, although it probably needs to be theorised more for a more critical analysis.
  2. Engagement (motivation and passion) is the key element, more important than content. Computer games are just one aspect of engagement, he was at pains to stress that. Schools are failing when it comes to engagement. Life long learning is becoming more important and engagement is the key to this. (BK)

the myth of the digital native
"It is worth looking at serious literature on socio-cultural uses of information technology, eg JS Brown and Paul Duguid's Social Life of Information (Harvard Business School Press, February 2000). In this study Brown and Duguid's central theme is that access to information does not equate to knowledge. Brown and Duguid note, much of what we recognise as learning comes from informal social interactions between learners and mentors. These social interactions are difficult to achieve in mediated instruction. They recognise that technology can enhance instruction in remarkable ways; however, it cannot replace the insights that students receive by struggling to make sense of information with both peers and mentors." - Martin Owen

"I don't think the time for evangelising is past. The fact that Prensky hit a nerve with his native/immigrant mantra shows that people know something is wrong and are searching for ways to explain it.

It's to his credit that he comes up with simple, quotable lines that resonate with people.

I think an interesting question is why does this resonate?"
- Sylvia Martinez

unpacking of the marketting of Prensky's algebrots game:
The tagline "beat the game, pass the course" has two messages packed tightly in those 6 words.

1. It is competitive and "in your face" which conforms to his message about "digital natives" -- that they want hard competition, fast and furious, but says little about what the game actually does. From this tag line, I would guess it's a "twitch" game, one that relies on quick reaction.

2. "pass the course" is a pretty clear statement that the game content will be related to things that typically appear on tests in typical algebra classes. It's a very different message than, "play the game, understand algebra" for example. It's a very "school" oriented statement, rather than a learning-oriented one.

Also, the "100% of students play video or computer games" (not sure if I got that word-for-word accurately) is a good marketing message, but essentially meaningless. It's impossible to prove, and even if true, doesn't mean that any percent of students will necessarily like or play this particular game, and therefore learn enough to pass algebra tests. But in marketing, you always like to put those 100% figures up there.

And last, in my experience in getting game designs off the ground, if it's been more than 6 months and that's all they have, there is nothing more behind this idea than a marketing message.
- Sylvia Martinez

"Immigrants and natives are different, some young people may well be more knowledgable about certain aspects of digital life (mobile phones, games, MSN chat, My Space for example). Immigrants might have an accent but that doesn't mean they can't be successful, sometimes more successful than the natives. I can still stay ahead of the students I teach because I am prepared to read the manual :-)" - Bill Kerr

the myth of the digital native
"... students don’t really understand the technology any better than most adults, they are just less afraid of making mistakes. They may figure things out on a computer faster, but they are just as likely to be mistaken as an adult" - Rob Wall

digital post-colonialism
Of course, there are many people working with technology in education who have a clear and articulate set of reasons for employing a certain technology in a particular way. But too often the only justification you’ll hear for using technology in a learning context is along the lines of, “well, with kids these days, you have to, don’t you? It’s all text this and Warcraft that, Digital Natives, aren’t they? No other way to get through to them”. It’s a tragic picture: Adults trapped by age and fate on one side of an unbridgeable chasm, doomed to extinction and irrelevance but still trying to shout improving maxims to the young people on the other side; alas, the constant beeping and flashing of the iPods and PlayStations and mobile telephones drowns their words, and the youth continue on their journey towards a land their parents cannot understand. Or maybe what’s so offensive is the jobsworth attitude it implies for those adults espousing it - “I’d love to help, really I would, but my hands are tied, Digital Immigrant, aren’t I? ...

But it’s not just lazy. It’s dangerous as well. Dividing the world across generational lines in this way perpetuates myths about young people’s access to (and use of) technology that risk marginalising those who don’t fit the stereotype.
- Richard Sandford

digital games-based drama

Just because we have the first generation of so-called “digital natives” doesn’t mean they are more in control of the technology.
They may be less concerned about using the technology but far from all of them are in control of the technology.
The “prosumer” (Carroll) or “produser” (Bruns) may be able to rip, mix and burn but we can’t assume they can grip, fix and turn.
This notion of GRIP, FIX and TURN – the capacity for control, the capacity to remedy, the capacity to reposition…..

- Kim Flintoff

Digital Natives and Digital Knowledge - not necessarily a matched set
Teachers don't always read the fine print in the definition of "digital natives." Digital natives have digital expectations, not necessarily digital skills. In other words, that flock of students that some of us keep expecting - the one in which all the students can hand-code Web pages and understand the underlying structures behind our digtial world - they're not coming
- Prof G.

The digital native, the digital naive and the digital divide
Students are not the 'digital natives' I thought they were. In fact 'digital immigrants' are much more the norm (in my Grade 8 class). Now don't get me wrong, they are savvy in many ways when it comes to technology. Give an avid Gameboy or Xbox user a new game that they know nothing about and they can make it to the second level before I know what all the controls do. Hand them a cell phone and they can text someone before I can figure out how to clear a number I pressed by mistake.

However, little things are coming up that show me that 'digital natives' they are not! (For example, simple things like opening a 'verify your e-mail' message and thinking that the act of opening it, -without following the embedded link-, is enough to get verification). But this is just a case of being naive... my students have shown me that they are willing to learn, and that is refreshing!
- David Trus