Thursday, 13 November 2008

Prensky's 'Digital Natives,Digital Immigrants'...An accurate view of the role of ICT in education?

Marc Prensky wrote two controversial articles in 2001, which discussed the use and provision of ICT in primary schools. Prensky claimed that our current education system needs to be brought into the 21st century, as it does not fully cater for our children's needs. He claims that in our modern society children are constantly surrounded by information communication technology (ICT) such as computers, the internet, games consoles and mobile phones, yet this societal trend is not reflected within the school environment. He also claims that this lack of ICT within schools may have led to the poor numeracy and literacy statistics of those leaving primary education, and that its introduction has the potential to revolutionise the education experience of children today.

Having read the Prensky articles at the beginning of the course I was intrigued to see the ICT provision in my first placement school during our serial week, and whether Prensky's views would apply. In his article 'Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants', Prensky highlights children's increasing access to ICT in our society, which I witnessed in my class, as the majority have a computer and access to the internet at home, many had their own mobile phone and most were extremely competent (often more so than me!)when using the computers.
He also claims that the curriculum and 'immigrants' should change in order to aid the children's learning, which I think is something that is starting to filter into schools, as the class teacher seemed very competent in using computers, and the interactive whiteboard, something which was not available a few years ago. The interactive whiteboard was used to great success in engaging the children as they all wanted a chance to write something on the board, and the interactive nature of the lessons seemed to really appeal to the children. ICT was also used daily for the whole school as part of a reading scheme which used voice recognition to monitor and assess children's reading and comprehension skills. This computer programme has had a huge influence on the reading abilities of the children using it, with many of them increasing their reading age by a number of months, in just a few weeks. It also reduces the pressure on members of staff in the room to listen to every child read, as the programme recognises when a child has read something incorrectly and will ask the child to say it again, and repeat the correct pronunciation if required. I do feel that this programme has a huge potential to impact upon children's reading, however I still believe that there is no substitute for sitting down and sharing the experience of a book with another person, rather than reading to a computer screen.
ICT, however, was not available to the extent that Prensky advocates, and I feel that an increase in ICT provision in primary schools would have a positive impact, however Prensky argues it should be used in every aspect of teaching and learning, something I feel that might be impractical in the classroom setting.

Prensky also argued that computer games can have a very positive impact upon the way children learn in schools, and I did witness evidence of this, for example through the reading scheme. However Prensky claims that all learning should be fun, which in theory it should be, but children also need to be made aware of the 'real' world, and the fact that not everything you do in life is fun! I also wondered about the health implications of an increase in the use of computers, will this only increase the percentages of obesity in this country?
I would also like to highlight the fact that Prensky claims that 'linear thought processes retard learning'.....what about reading a book?!

On reflection of my time in school, I feel that Prensky has highlighted a hugely important, current and relevant argument as children today are much more ICT literate than older generations, and are much more capable of using and engaging with ICT, and should be given the opportunities to do so. This is important to remember as education is supposed to provide children with the skills to succeed now, and in their adult life, and as ICT shapes the future children should be prepared for its influence. However I do still feel that some of Prensky's views are somewhat idealistic, and he provides no real approach or method of how to implement his ideas in the modern classroom.

1 comment:

Somabula Blog said...

Fair comment. Thank you.

...I also wondered about the health implications of an increase in the use of computers, will this only increase the percentages of obesity in this country?...

Does using pencil and paper provide more exercise than typing?