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There are no ‘digital natives’ – there never were

Is it academically sound to quote Star Trek as your source?

‘We want young people, like rockets, to “boldly go where no one has gone before,” (4) and partnering offers the best prospects for getting them there’ (Prensky, 2006)

Click on the reference in this ‘Prensky-ism’ and it kindly tells us ‘opening sequence of the Star Trek television show.’

Hardly Harvard Referencing.

When you read Prensky beyond the gushing plaudits from his fans in teaching, this is what you find. Nothing is referenced. Everything is hearsay. Personal anecdotes pass as fact. Just because he spoke to a teacher at a school somewhere passes as research, it is not.

Everything is ‘Planet Prensky in scope i.e. American kids with laptops and iPhones.

As I’m inclinded to read everything I can, I’m also starting to find far too many of the ideas put forward by Prensky as his own, as well developed, often academically sound ideas expressed elsewhere, in earlier publications that Prensky then pointedly fails to acknowledge.

He claims, for example, as his own this notion of ideas to tackle the digital learning environment as ‘verbs’ and ‘nouns’ which, for example, is the exact same premise of William Horton in ‘Web-based Learning’ and more recently (though pre-dating Prensky) in ‘E-learning Design.’ William Horton has been working in technology enabled learning, computer-based and web-based learning since the 1970s.

The thing is, I find myself compelled to read Prensky. His truisms are simply that; the reality is profoundly more complext and dull.

Do we want academics who grab the headlines or academics who have a professional and scientifc, academically sound approach to research and what they publish?

Is there an inevitable blending of the formal and informal, or the popular media and academia when in effect, a shelf of academic books on the shelves of the Radcliffe Science Library, Oxford are mixed up with the trash (magazines and novels) you can pick up from the airport?

REFERENCE

Horton, W (2006) E-Learning By Design

Horton, W (2003) E-Learning Tools and Technologies

Horton, W (2002) Using E-Learning

Horton, W (2001) Leading E-learning

Horton, W (2001) Developing Knowledge Products

Horton, W (1996) The Web-page design cookbook

Prensky, M (2006) Teaching Digital Natives

Prensky, M (2001) Digital Natives (article)

Prensky, M (2009) Education as Rocket Science (article)

Prensky, M (2006) Do they really think differently? (article)

Prensky, M ) E-enough. E-learning is a misnomer (article)

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