Sunday, August 19, 2007

thoughts on Prensky

After reading "How to teach with technology: keeping both teachers and students comfortable in an era of exponential change" by Marc Prensky, my ideas about teaching with technology are further solidified and some of my fears about using it are abated. What really challenges teachers today is the paradigm shift that we are experiencing in how kids learn (and how they should learn). To give up the "control" in a classroom and shift from an autocratic to a more democratic learning environment is probably the most difficult thing for adults to do. Prensky advocates getting the students involved in the process of using technology as much as possible even to the point that it doesn't matter if the teacher fully understands or can manipulate the technology him or herself. This is risky as I, the teacher, am no longer the "expert" in the room. It's important that I keep in mind what I am the expert in: the ability to manipulate the information on a higher thinking level and the ability to teach others how to do so. The second challenge is to acknowledge that my students are experts in using the technologies that can help facilitate learning how to manipulate teh subject matter. In fact, not necessarily experts in using the technology, but certainly highly proficient in learning to use the new technologies much more quickly than I can. Prensky also suggets that students should have a role in the assessment of their own use of the technologies. That's interesting and certainly requires me to give up some of my "control" as the teacher. Ultimately, no matter the subject matter, I need to focus on the core reasons why we should be using these technologies. For the technologies haven't changed my subject, but they do make accessing the information and even manipulating, digesting, and analyzing much easier. So, I need to facilitate not only the learning of my subject, but also the learning of how to use the new technologies proficiently. Helping students find "quality, meaning, value, relevance" as Prensky states.

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