Always in our hands

My 11 month old daughter is crawling all over our home and playing with her toys and remote controls. I am keeping an eye on her, and we are pushing a tupperware around the floor. My phone buzzes, and I pick it up to check out the alert. My daughter drops the tupperware and crawls quickly over to pull at my phone. This happens on a regular basis – – the Ipad, computer, and phone all draw my daughter’s attention. What is it about these items that are so attractive to an 11 month old? All she really wants to do is hold it and put it in her mouth. She could care less about Twitter or Instagram. My husband’s theory is that she sees how we always want to hold them and have them in our hands and knows that they must be important. Regardless of why she has a desire for these items, the reality is that our daughter will grow up surrounded by technology that can connect her to the world in both positive and negative ways. She will be a product of the “Digital Age”. It is my responsibility as a parent to foster positive technology use by my daughter. Likewise, it is my responsibility to foster positive technology use by my students.

I recently read an article, “Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants,” by Marc Prensky. Prensky takes a strong stance in describing how learners of this generation are changed and different due to growing up in a digital culture, and teachers must change their methodology in order to educate them. He portrays “Digital Natives” in a positive light, and “Digital Immigrants” in a negative light. Although I find Prensky’s view to be extreme, there are a few statements that I believe do have validity and implications for our educational system.

For example, Prensky states, “Today’s students are no longer the people our educational system was designed to teach.” I completed my undergrad in 9-12 education from 2003-2007. The basic layout and instructional designs that I was taught hold true to today; however, the abundance of resources, the power of interactives, the use of multimedia, and the strategies for encouraging complex thinking have dramatically changed. Some teachers have the time and motivation to adapt to these changes and alter their instruction, but many teachers do not have the time, are not provided the resources, or do not have the motivation. This results in disparity among the classrooms in our educational system.

Another statement by Prensky that has implications for what should be taught is:

“Future content is to a large extent, not surprisingly, digital and technological. But while it includes software, hardware, robotics, nanotechnology, genomics, etc. it also includes the ethics, politics, sociology, languages and other things that go with them. This ‘Future’ content is extremely interesting to today’s students.”

I can see these topics as being very interesting to students, as I am highly interested in them as well. Technology has changed various career fields and will change the future career settings of our students. We need to help prepare our students for this change and strengthen their skills in these areas, and Prensky points out some of the areas that will be important for our students to be successful in. I think this has implications in broadening the options that students can explore in K-12 and the topics that are covered in the core classes.

Whether or not you were born in the “Digital” culture, we all have a responsibility to respond to these advances and determine how to best incorporate them into our educational system and our everyday lives.

Prensky, M. (2001). Digital natives, digital immigrants – Part II: Do they really think differently? On the Horizon, 9(6). Retrieved from,%20Digital%20Immigrants%20-%20Part1.pdf








7 thoughts on “Always in our hands

  1. Hanna, I did my undergrad at about the same time as you. I remember using overhead projectors in my student teaching and first few years in the classroom! How quickly things have changed. Its important to keep up and to teach students those “future” skills.

    • Hi Kaelyn, Yes, I remember using the overhead projector as well. I often think about what the future will hold for classroom teaching. It seems that we can teach a new “future” skill and by the time the students master the skill or tool, it is outdated. Keeping up with the change is also a challenge.

  2. Love your use of the anecdote about your daughter to lead into the review of Prensky’s points. Very cool transition and very poignant! I’m with you – it’s about teaching students how to use technology as a tool and to do so responsibly. I don’t see the world of education needing to be 100% technology or 100% traditional. The world is a hybrid and therefore our classrooms should be too! We should use the technology to enhance our teaching and enhance student experience.

    • I appreciate your point about the hybrid world and strongly agree. We often stress the importance of enhancing our teaching and student experience with technology, but sometimes I struggle to know whether or not that is happening. I think students are using various technologies, but do they have the skills to problem solve and adapt to challenges when using?

  3. Hanna, it is worth noting – as McKenzie does a reasonable job highlighting – that not only are Prensky’s opinions not based upon reliable and valid data, but in many instances he misrepresents the positions of others, misleads the readers, and even lies and makes up things to support his position.

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