See Marc Prensky

Marc PrenskyI guess that it’s a sign that I am still more teacher than business man, that I would laud, so enthusiastically, my competition. There are probably four or five ed tech conference keynote speakers who are on the A-list of people we all need to hear and see. It’s my aspiration to reach this list, but I found a new model to aspire to yesterday, a new A-lister, by watching Marc Prensky present at the New Directions conference in Flat Rock, North Carolina.

His main message was that our children, our students, are actually different people than the ones we think we are teaching. In other words, he defined an education gap between our classrooms and curriculum, and the real world of our children and their future. He expressed this point eloquently and compellingly, and he was a joy to watch.

Marc’s unique twist is gaming, not only the affects that gaming is having on our students and their culture, but also the place that gaming should be playing in how and what our children are learning. It’s a topic that I do not formally present. However, when opening discussions with educators about retooling classrooms for 21st century teaching and learning, video games is a topic that almost always comes up. It is an important part of our children’s culture, and it must also be part of their schooling if we are to remain relevant to our students.

One point that Prensky made was that we do not need to bring games into the classroom in order to integrate them into the learning process. Simply asking students to talk about their gaming and what they are learning, in the process, as they make decisions and achieve new levels of proficiency, may bring new learning experiences into the classroom.

Here are a few quotes from Prinsky’s slides as I madly took pictures while trying to blog the event (see yesterday’s entry, Bloggin’ in the Blue Ridge).

Quote from a high school student when comparing his challenges in the classroom compared to playing video games.

Whenever I go to school I have to “power down”.

Deborah Schwartz, at the Museum of Modern Art, says that when students encounter information, they want to put their own mark on the information. They want to remix, in order to make it personally valuable to them.

Alan Kay says that:

What’s different about the new technology is that it is programmable.

Marc made this point again yesterday as he sat in on my presentation on classroom blogging. We got off into a discussion of new literacy, and he added that information is also programmable. I agree. I tend to embed this concept into aspects of my “changing nature of information”, but he is right. This should be an explicit part of what and how we teach our children.

From a gaming 16 year old student.

I don’t want to study Rome in high school. Hell, I build Rome every day in my online game, Ceasar III.

Ok, so these kids do not need to learn about Rome? Why certainly they need to learn about Rome. But are there new ways to learn history that leverage our students need and skill at interacting with content? Should we be doing this now, or later? Tick tock! Tick tock!

I loved this one. These kids are not ADD. They are EOE.

Engage me
Enrage me!

I’m not sure if this was Mark Anderson the cartoonist, or Marc Andreessen, the inventor of Mosaic and Netscape, but someone said something pretty important here.

(Today’s learners) are no longer limited by their teachers’ ability and knowledge.

This is so true, from a high school student.

We have learned to “play school.” We study the right facts the night before the test so we achieve a passing grade and thus become a successful student.

Prensky then goes on to say that students are receiving their credentials in school. But they are learning their 21st century skills after school, playing video games.

I’m not going to share any more, because you need to see Prensky speak. High School teachers in the Raleigh area will see him later this month at the Hi5 event, and he’s going to turns some heads.

I’ll add one more thing. I tend to use Presentation slides to add audio visual emphasis to my message. I put very little text on my slides, and coach other presenters not to. Prensky uses a lot of text on his slides, but he does it very well. He places words in the slide in a way to implies intonation and accent. Very skillfully done.

Outstanding work, and a high-point of my week on the road, from this A-lister.

Author: David Warlick

David Warlick has been an educator for the past 40+ years. He continues to do some writing, but is mostly seeking his next intersect between play, passion and purpose, dabbling in photography, drone videography and music production.