December 2007 Newsletter

My December GEC Computers in the Classroom Newsletter is now online at: http://www.gecdsb.on.ca/d&g/Dec07/

December is Symposium month for the [ http://www.westernrcac.org ]Western Regional Computer Advisory Committee. Each year, this one day conference is held for directors and superintendents of education, principals, and key computer leaders in the Western Ontario region. At the conference, speakers who are leaders in the field of computer and technology use share their insights with the group as the RCAC uses the event as a catalyst for change.

Over the years, the list of keynote speakers have included [ http://www.davidpogue.com/ ]David Pogue, [ http://www.marcprensky.com/ ]Mark Prensky, [ http://davidwarlick.com/wordpress/?page_id=2 ]David Warlick, [ http://fno.org/ ]Jamie McKenzie, [ http://dougjohnson.squarespace.com/ ]Doug Johnson, [ http://www.sfwriter.com/ ]Robert Sawyer, etc. It should come as no surprise that each of them has a dynamic web presence and ways to stay in touch with each. All of them are big writers and are constantly generating food for thought on a regular basis via their website and some with newsletters.

Each of the speakers is know well in their field and make stands in their particular areas. Marc Prensky is probably best known for his description of digital natives and digital immigrants. He uses these descriptions to drive home the notion that students today have more electronics (and know how to use them) than we ever did growing up. It’s a fun analogy and gives you pause to think about how best to address the needs and learning styles for todays’ students.

Jamie McKenzie comes from a rich academic background and is a prolific writer. The focus of his books, of course, is rich with technology and its use, but focuses strongly on using this and other methodologies in the classroom to push students to higher order and rich curriculum activities. His website [ http://questioning.org/ ]The Question Mark is devoted to these activities and how to ask important and relevant questions in the research process.

I subscribe to McKenzie’s newletter and, this month, he dropped both gloves in his assessent of Prensky’s message in an article entitled “[ http://www.fno.org/nov07/nativism.html ]Digital Nativism, Digital Delusions, and Digital Deprivation.” In the article, he took exception to Prensky’s assumptions and challenged the quality of some of Prensky’s research.

I had to read the article a few times to really comprehend the content.

I enjoy Prensky’s observations, but never took it literally and with a 100% acceptance. I look at the students that I come in contact with on a regular basis. Even my daughter, who served on a panel discussion with Marc last year has access to more technology than I could have dreamed of as a child.

This is her world and there aren’t too many things that I would ask her to change.

She still loves her softball, sitting with a good novel, listening to her iPod, going to school, working at her job, updating her Facebook site, and I’m sure involved with one or two other things that as a parent I don’t want to know. She has a cell phone, knows how to text, and stays connected all the time.

While I don’t take Prensky’s remarks literally, I’m not prepared to ignore them because of some academic reason. Kids today are different and have different opportunities. As educators, we need to acknowledge this and find ways to engage them as well as teach them how to use all this technology responsibility.

Consider the quote from Mary Kay Utecht.
“Our task is to provide an education for the kind of kids we have… Not the kind of kids we used to have… Or want to have… Or the kids that exist in our dreams.”

For me, that’s the bottom line from the message.

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