Engaged Learner Class 2 Reflections: Prensky

Reactions and Reflections:  Prensky

In Class 2, I was part of the group that read “Engage Me or Enrage Me” by Marc Prensky.  Our group agreed that teachers must be open to new strategies for engaging today’s students, but we disagreed with his premise that games are the “magic bullet” for helping students see the relevance of school.    I do believe that we must tap into 21st century technology tools in today’s classrooms, but the use of those tools still must be underpinned by sound and effective pedagogy.   Anyone who has worked with me will tell you that I embrace technology as much as anyone.  At the same time, I firmly believe that technology in and of itself will not guarantee engaged learning, but technology can be a tool that can scaffold engaged learning.   The key is that we as teachers must not be afraid to use it in meaningful ways to help students be more productive and to think more critically.  Too many educators use technology as another means for information regurgitation. 

The article led to a larger discussion of the challenges of teaching in today’s “instant gratification” society:  today’s teachers certainly try to make learning as fun as possible, but the reality is that learning is not always easy or fun.   We have to help students learn how to work through challenging learning tasks; I believe the pride and satisfaction a student can feel when he/she successfully overcomes a learning challenge will result in intrinsic motivation that will lead to lifelong learning skills.   Learning is an attitude and way of life.

Three elements of the article really bothered me:

1.  I felt Prensky (as did others) made too many broad assumptions.  For instance, he assumes that all of today’s students are wired and love being wired.  I know from experience as a librarian and an English teacher that this is not the case for all students.  I also think he is dead wrong when he assumes that people who went to school before the “digital age” did not have engaging or rich learning experiences.   My childhood was one of imagination fueled by everyday objects, books, and music—I honestly don’t think technology would have enriched my learning experiences as a child any better except that I could have had even more access to reading materials.  Books, though, were the fabric of my life and profoundly shaped who I am, what I know, and how I think (and continue to grow) today.

2.  I did not like the “binary” way of thinking that Prensky established in his article. 

3.  Prensky’s implication that something must be fun to be engaging.

Here are two additional resources I found that will give us more food for thought about Prensky’s article:

LOTI

I took my LOTI survey as a “media specialist/instructional technology specialist.”  Throughout the survey, I frequently felt confused because the wording of the questions continually asked me about “my staff.”  I felt I was supposed to answer the questions based on what the teachers at my school are doing, but the questions were difficult to answer because I wanted to answer based on what I am doing or would do if I had a greater role in collaborating with our classroom teachers on unit design.  As a result, I felt my LOTI scores did not accurately reflect my personal practices.  Two other media specialists in my group also encountered the same challenge in answering their surveys.

The three of us then discussed this question:  “How do we help teachers design units and use technology in ways that reflect a higher skill and integration level on the LOTI scale?”  As media specialists, we walk a fine line of trying to be instructional and technology leaders for our teachers while not imposing on the classroom teacher’s space and right to make instructional design decisions.  Sometimes it is really difficult to collaborate when you see that the research assignment is not tapping into higher level thinking skills—you try to nudge the teacher to come up with a learning product that requires the higher ends of Bloom’s taxonomy, but if the teacher resists, you have to respect that teacher’s decision even if you disagree with it.  Did any other media specialists encounter these challenges with the LOTI, or do you face these challenges in your daily life as a librarian? 

One final thought about LOTI:  I do like how the survey and our class activities emphasize that “using” technology is NOT the same as “integrating” technology as a seamless tool of instruction.  I am looking forward to learning more about how we can integrate technology into our 21st century classrooms and libraries to improve student learning and engage not only our students but also ourselves as lifelong learners!

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Comments
One Response to “Engaged Learner Class 2 Reflections: Prensky”
  1. middlemedia says:

    I agree with your opinion that the LoTi survey did not accurately reflect a media specialist’s own use of technology integration. My score was lower than I perceive my technology integration to be; however, since our role is support and to work collabratively with the teachers, I do understand why the questions were worded from a highly collaborative perspective. I am beginning to think that our participation in Media 21 will not only serve to integrate more technology in our media centers, but also serve as examples of a 21st century classroom. Our work towards collaborating with teachers will necessarily intensify. I think participation in Teach 21 will help in library media advocation as we will not longer be the lone ranger trying to help our teachers help thier students reach a higher level of information fluency.

    Ah, there’s another idea…there has been a shift occurring changing”information literacy” to “information fluency” which connotes becoming “fluent” in information seeking tasks and project generation. Another argument against Prensky’s supposition that there are only digital natives and digital immigrants.

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