University of Vermont

Tarrant Institute for Innovative Education

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Marc Prensky's Digital Natives in a Nutshell

The cover of Marc Prensky's Digital Natives: Partnering for Real Learning
"Our students have changed radically.
Today's students are no longer the people our educational system was designed to teach."

--Marc Prensky, "Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants"

What's a Digital Native?

Games inventor, teacher and author Marc Prensky defines a "digital native" as the students in teachers' classrooms today, students who've grown up using technology and accepting it as part of their everyday lives. They're the first generation to grow up with technology. In stark contrast, a lot of educators, administrators and parents find they are "digital immigrants", having to adapt to technology that is unfamiliar and can be intimidating. These two groups view technology in fundamentally different ways.
A key tenet of the digital natives/digital immigrants schema is the importance of partnering in the classroom; specifically, as students are digital natives and (generally) teachers are digital immigrants, there are a number of great reasons to let students take the lead in work that involves technology -- or work that should involve technology.

Why does TIIE think this is important?

"We are particularly drawn to Prensky's work because of the connections he makes between digital learning and student involvement. Unlike those who merely promote technology as the key to engaging today's young adolescents in learning, we agree with Prensky's premise that educators must focus not "only on the changing technology, but rather to conceptualize learning in a new way, with adults and young people each taking on new and different roles from the past" (p.10). Young adolescents are connecting with the world in new and innovative ways every day, which provides educators with both significant challenges and extraordinary opportunities. In Teaching Digital Natives: Partnering for Real Learning, Prensky effectively makes the case for students as authentic partners in the teaching and learning process. He also provides the practical perspective, with a useful chapter on existing tools that educators will find helpful as they integrate more technology into the classroom."

--Penny Bishop, Director, Tarrant Institute for Innovative Education

Other Reviews of Prensky's Digital Natives work:

  • The Meeting Professional:
    "Today's students (and the best of today's employees) are wired differently; sitting still listening to a one-way flow of information is a waste of their time, and they know it. They prefer the workshop or roundtable to a lecture, a practical exercise to a multiple-choice test and a clear connection between the matter being studied and their real-life needs. At the same time, they are addicted to real-time feedback and do best when it is part of the learning process...

    What I am finding is that the best instructors --and the best meeting managers -- are putting what used to be lectures or speeches on the Web for study at leisure to include the ability to pause, stop and return, and using face-to-face classroom time for roundtable discussion in which every student is both a teacher and a learner."
  • The Ottawa-Carleton School Board likes digital natives, too, and feature some resources for teaching them: "Students need choice, differentiation, personalization and individualization ... Digital Natives/Immigrants respect the past but live in the future ... Tech is students' job

  • Reviews of the book on Amazon

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Last modified July 19 2011 11:24 AM