Home » Posts tagged 'marc prensky'

Tag Archives: marc prensky

Thoughts on ethical issues surrounding studying younger students in virtual worlds and online



Young people


Their use of mobile phones and networked devices


Immersive Virtual Worlds and virtual inhabitants (not everyone’s cup of tea)

  • Informal learning settings

  • Ethical challenges across the full range of contexts


  • Keep ethical questions open given the changing environment.
  • A participatory and iterative approach (Lally et al. 2012 : 02 )
  • Assumption that ‘developments in mobile and networked technologies change young people’s culture landscape, allowing them to communicate, socialise and collaborate on their personal projects in new ways’. (Lally et al. 2012 : 02 )
  • Indeed, outside the formal education system (Sharples, Graber, Harrison, & Logan, 2009)


  • Outside the classroom
  • How to research
  • New ‘ecologies’ of learning (Looi, 2001)
  • Hanging around the changing rooms after a swimming session – banter that leaks out into the general public.


  • Integration of these platforms/worlds into learning design.
  • Merging formal and informal.
  • Bridging formal and nonformal/informal contexts (TEL-TLRP) projects – ‘Inter-Life’ and ‘Personal Inquiry’  (Lally et al. 2012 : 04)

‘The projects have to negotiate territory that by its very informal and collaborative nature requires ethical and educational processes to be negotiated and distributed amongst participants, rather than pre-determined by their institutional context’. (Lally et al. 2012 : 04)

Like bringing a game of British Bulldogs or ‘Kick the can’ into a teaching setting, like boy scouts … and killing it off in the process. Kids would run a mile if they spotted a teacher. Even at university, extracurricular that had nothing to do with the course … and faculty associations which did.

Ethics – and Aristotle and ‘phronesis’. (Unnecessarily pretentious or a valid grounding in ethics.

If we go back to Aristotle then why miss out all the philosophical thinking and development since, at least via humanists such as Hegel)

  • Quest for external and universal truths
  • Skills required to pursue a particular end

Elliot, (2006) ‘disciplined conversation in which reasons for action are scrutinised, critiqued and modified’.

Phronesis – underpins the argument for iterative and participatory research.  (Lally et al. 2012 : 02 ) = practical wisdom (wikipedia).

Learning in informal and non-formal settings already constitutes the majority of educational interactions during a person’s lifetime (Livingstone, 1999)

Actually it starts in the womb as the brain forms in the foetus from around five months and never ends … a person continues to learn to the moment they die … possibly even moments after the heart has stopped and the brain finally shuts down and everything is lost.

I wouldn’t count on anything that is said by Marc Prensky (2005)

A more reliable source might be the OII Annual Survey for GB usage, Rebecca Eynon.

Emergent social network technologies (Selwyn, 2008)

Prohibition at school.

Skills learnt: online collaborative learning, development of skills in web-based social networking, occur almost entirely outside the formal education system. (Lally et al. 2012 : 04 )

  • The perpetual consumer (Lawson, 2004) and the net savvy adolescent.
  • Direct link between economic activities and consumption.  (Lally et al. 2012 : 04 )

AdBlocker, scrambling facebook, if you get ads in blogs pay to exclude, tape over screen, block pop-ups, move platform (e.g . AOL).

Edutainment rarely competes with the games that have 100m invested.

Novel ethical issues  (Lally et al. 2012 : 04)

The study of people’s personal use of digital technology for learning (Buckingham &Willett, 2009; Crook & Harrison, 2008; Sharples et al., 2009), and their engagement with digital technologies across formal and non-formal/informal settings for education (Vavoula, Sharples, Rudman, Lonsdale, & Meek, 2007), presents novel ethical issues.


Davies, C., & Eynon, R (2013) Teenagers and Technology (Adolescence and Society)

Eynon, R (2009) Mapping the digital divide in Britain: implications for learning and education.

Kelly, D (Forthcoming 2011) ‘Karaoke’s Coming Home:  Japan’s Empty Orchestras in the United Kingdom’, Leisure Studies 30.

Lally, V; Sharples, M; Tracey, F; Bertram, N and Masters, S. (2012). Researching the ethical dimensions of mobile, ubiquitous,and immersive technology enhanced learning (MUITEL) in informal settings: a thematic review and dialogue. Interactive Learning Environments, 20(3), pp. 217–238.

Livingstone, D.W. (1999). Exploring the icebergs of adult learning: Findings of the first Canadian survey of informal learning practices. Canadian Journal for the Study of Adult Education, 13(2), 49–72.

Looi, C.K. (2001). Enhancing learning ecology on the internet. Journal of Computer Assisted

Learning, 17(1), 13–20.

Prensky, M. (2005). Don’t bother me mum – I’m learning. St Paul, MN: Paragon House.

Selwyn, N. (Ed.). (2008). Education 2.0?: Designing the web for teaching and learning. London: Institute of Education, University of London, TLRP-TEL.

Sharples, M., Graber, R., Harrison, C., & Logan, K. (2009). E-Safety and Web2.0 for children aged 11–16. Journal of Computer-Assisted Learning, 25, 70–84.


The Shallows – Nicholas Carr – I’m about to give up after Chapter 3

In Chapter 3, ‘Tools of the mind’, after a potted history of maps (not cartography) and clocks (not horology), we get an equally potty view of the plastic mind and neuroscience. Carr is no neuroscientist – three decades ago he took a first degree in English Literature (Dartmouth College) followed by a Masters in American Literature (Harvard). He should stick to what he knows.

Though ‘The Shallows‘ is meant to be unavailable online I started to read a version someone has uploaded before the book arrived in the post. If I had the energy I would cut and paste the digital version into a two column table, landscape view, and write my notes alongside – like a translation. This is what I do with academic papers when they require and deserve close scrutiny. ‘The Shallows’, like any Airport best seller is only worth a once only skim read – I’m questioning my resolve even to do that.

It is like being asked to eat six plates of jelly (jello) and custard.

As a book it is a remarkably satisfactory artifact. Even in paper back the cover has a wonderful fine grittiness to it – like sand. I even open the book and breathed it in. For this experience 10/10. All publishers, especially those online, need to take trouble with the Art Work too. Of course the plaudits sing out ‘buy me, buy me’ but as reviews go they are about as helpful as one liners on the latest blockbuster.

Carr writes well enough, not quite Bill Bryson, but an easy and intelligent read, an amble through the relevant technologies to the present day.

Carr can be accepted as a cultural and social historian, his mistake is to want to want bash this evidence into shape to support his conception of the Internet and its dangers. It is like saying that ‘rural man’ is different to ‘urban man’, that the motivations, pace and opportunities are different. Whilst this may be true, the sorts of changes to the brain that Carr suggest are not occurring.

Carr’s conception of mind is both out of date and misconstrued.

I wonder if I have the strength to read on, not even to refute what he says chapter by chapter. I risk polluting my mind. The pleasure is the history, the cod science is irritating and unnecessary.  Carr is well read and would be a pleasure at a dinner party, but I don’t suppose he’s much of a listener, nor someone whose views are likely to change no matter how convincing the evidence that his hypotheses are mistaken.

My inability to concentrate on this book has nothing to do with what Carr will claim to be by Internet altered mind.

I have some 8 books on the go, 4 eBooks, the others in print form by the bed. It simply fails to engage me, even on the level of making me angry. I suspect that Carr takes an evangelical view on his perspective and couldn’t be changed – I tried telling something reading the Da Vinci Code that it was all made up but they wouldn’t believe me. We human’s have it in us to take things on blind faith. Clearly this is a trait that has brought us in evolutionary terms a long way, but if you want a scientific perspective on the Internet you won’t get it from Carr. If anything, from 2000 when I started buying books in bulk from Amazon and from 20101 when I started consuming e-Books voraciously, the Internet has increased my hunger for books – for their content. My preference is for e-Books for their versatility.

I used always to read with a pen and notebook by my side.

I now do everything on the one device, adding notes, highlighting, bookmarking, sharing snippets to Twitter and Facebook along the way and blogging chapter by chapter too. I stop to check the meaning of a word, or to read a footnote, even to download and read a reference where it helps my understanding. I buy books that are only available in print – Marshall McLuhan, Christopher Alexander, Gordon Bell, Robert Gagne, Engestrom’s Activity Systems (certain specific editions).

At no stage has Carr done either a research degree, or has he studied engineering or computer science or anything that might touch on the workings of the Internet such as e–learning.

He should have studied criminal law as he is good at is constructing a plausible, one–sided argument. Nothing by Carr, from what I can see, has been published in an academic journal – it would not be accepted. Those who have studied the Web, psychology, and neuroscience, would shred him. p.48 on the mind is the exact same shallow and ill–conceived thinking touted by that other writer of bias and conjecture – Marc Prensky (the digital natives debacle is largely his, though currently he’s denying he started that ball rolling).

The structural changes to our brains are infinitesimally minute and extraordinarily complex – a Mozart who has studied and played the piano, or a mathematician such as Einstein, have the same brain just as they have in human terms the same arms and legs. If their personality profiles are to be understood, one could imagine Mozart being the easily distracted, eclectic, butterfly online, while Einstein one imagines would treat it as a tool and an opportunity to stay even closer to the topics that mattered to him. One, in Kirton’s terms an ‘innovator’ the other an ‘adaptor’.

This is where Carr’s lack of understanding of human psychology is so telling.

‘Although the workings of our gray matter still lie beyond the reach of archaeologists’ tools, we now know not only that it is probable that the use of intellectual technologies shaped and reshaped the circuitry in our heads, but that it had to be so’. p.49

This is twaddle on so many levels it feels no more possible or desirable to refute than the enthusiastic chatter of a child. Carr doesn’t strike me as someone who easily persuaded when he has something wrong.

  • everything touches our minds
  • everyone is different
  • not everyone has access to the Internet
  • even those who do use it for a myriad of different things in a multitude of ways.
  • years of solitary confinement, or years in the trenches on the Western Front affect different people in different ways.

The Internet, as a changing and fluid platform of content, now on smartphones on smart TVs since Carr wrote ‘The Shallows’, where it impacts and changes our lives, the effect on each of us varies.

Human kind is not homogenous.

Carr’s thinking is shallow.

I got this kind of thing written on my undergraduate essays, in particular when I’d skipped lectures and based my research on back copies of the Financial Times (this would have been for a module on Southern Africa). ‘Journalistic’ was the put down.

This is journalism to be serialised in a Sunday Colour Supplement – it would be acceptable if the view were balanced. I have in mind a book to complement ‘The Shallows’ – a snappy title might be ‘The Deep’ or ‘The Corrections’ but both of these have been used.

Any suggestions?

An equally plausible stance would be to take everything Carr says and imply that it means the exact opposite – this would be just as imbalanced as ‘The Shallows’ though. The idea that the Internet is making ‘us’ profoundly smarter, that we are being re-wired into a super-race.

My own view is that the Internet is producing a glossary expansion in learning, increasing the depth and scope of education

‘The internet lies at the core of an advanced scholarly information infrastructure to facilitate distributed, data and information-intensive collaborative research’. (Borgman, 2007, xvii)


Borgman, C.L. (2007) Scholarship in the digital age: Information, infrastructure, and the Internet. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.


Digital Natives – claptrap, scaremongering and myth

Marc Prensky

Marc Prensky (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Use of computers in any form, from desktops to laptops, and now with smartphones and tablets, has never been generational. We’d might as well suggest that there were once bicycle riding natives or TV remote control natives. The term was coined by Marc Prensky (2001) – there was never any substance to it. Academics and journalists ought to be more wary when these ideas that appear to express an apparent reality and suggest revolution and disruption are given so much credence. Research now shows that there is no substance at all to the idea.

Despite recent empirical evidence undermining claims about profound age-related differences in technology use and practices and moves by the original authors to distance themselves from their original claims (e.g. Prensky 2009), the idea put forward, of a fundamental gap between the technologically skilled and unskilled, persists. (Bennet and Maton, 2010:322)

Prensky (2009) is no less re-assuring than in his previous books and article, his style light journalism, opinion and replete with soundbites – in this article ‘digital wisdom’ and ‘ future wisdom seekers’ are his catch phrase somehow permitted by a quote from Einstein. He also spouts pseudo-science about ‘those who interact with technology frequently will be restructured by that interaction’ – ‘The brains of wisdom seekers of the future will be fundamentally different, in organization and in structure, than our brains are today’. He also continues to tout the idea of the ‘digital immigrant’ referring to Barack Obama and Rupert Murdoch. (Perhaps he could add Philip Green and Martin Sorrell)

The research from Bennett says this about Prensky’s thesis:

– Little critical scrutiny
– Under theorised
– Lack of sound empirical basis

It would be worrying were educators to act on the kind of radical changes in curriculum, pedagogy, assessment and professional in education that Prensky feels is required.

‘Arguments are often couched in dramatic language, proclaim a profound change in the world, and pronounce stark generational differences’ (Bennett, 2008:03).

Claims are put forward with limited empirical evidence (Tapscott, 1998) or supported by anecdotes and appeals to common-sense beliefs. (Prensky, 2001. Prensky cites Captain James T Kirk from Star Trek … as if a fictional character, or the show (rather than its author) should be the one to cite at all.

‘The researchers found that only a minority of the students (around 21%) were engaged in creating their own content and multimedia for the Web, and that a significant proportion of students had lower level skills than might be expected of digital natives.’ (Bennett 2008:02)

Kennedy et al’s research (2009) in Australia shows that emerging technologies are NOT the lifeblood of a generation, far from it. Research amongst students in three Australian universities showed that only :

21% blog
24% used social networking
21.5% used podcasts

Hardly the universal use of technology by this generation that Prensky and his cronies suggest is the position.

‘There is no evidence that multi-tasking is a new phenomenon exclusive to digital natives’, (Bennett, 2008:02)

Best of all it turns out that all of us who use these tools frequently take on what Prensky might think of as uniquely teenage or generational traits – impatient for a start with software or bandwidth, online 20/7 if not 24/7 … but at least capable of seeing the often Wikipedia is not an adequate or accurate source (they’ve let me edit enough stuff) or that Google is does not offer the definitive answer ever, let alone on the first sweep.

Just because something resonates with our personal observations doesn’t make it so. Frankly, Prensky et al should be stand-up comics – you have to laugh, at their nonsense and how gullible we are to want to believe them.

‘Such claims with appeals to sense and recognisable anecdotes are used to declare an emergency situation, and call for urgent and fundamental change.’ (Bennett, 2008:04)

Research has shown that the concept of the ‘digital native’ is worse than a myth – it was and remains untrue. We should think instead of how innovations are adopted, using Roger’s diffusion of innovation of and in this case an expensive one – far from being generational computers were taken up right across age groups in equal measure. It is also very wrong to assume, as the article says, that all children have the ‘knowledge’ – they do not.

‘An evaluation of students’ perceptions and engagement with e-learning components in a campus based university’. (Ituma 2011)

Another false assumption recently researched relating to the use of computers by disabled students – it turns out that some are highly digitally literate, embracing the technology and finding their own ways to overcome some of the barriers we assume to be in their way because of the benefits that are afforded them – digitised text can be read and manipulated in many ways to suit those with sight, cognitive or mobility impairments.

‘Generalisations about the ways in which digital natives learn also fail to recognise cognitive differences in young people of different ages and variation within age groups.’ (Bennett, 2008:02)

And variations within those with disabilities – who of course are not a homogeneous group either.

As educators we ought to enquire first of every child or student’s exposure to and use of these devices, like swimming, playing the piano or speaking a foreign language we may be surprised at the outcome.

‘Our research suggests that we should be cautious about distinguishing a specific generation because although there are age differences there are additional factors differentiating students, specifically gender and disciplinary differences. We find significant age related differences but we are reluctant to conclude that there is a clear disconnection between a Net generation composed of Digital Natives and older students.’ (Jones and Ramanau, 2010)

Studies of school-aged children in particular have highlighted differences in the ways home access to technology is determined according to the location of the computer, rules about access and the value placed on technology as an educational or recreational device (Downes 1998; Kerawalla & Crook 2002).

What these studies suggest is that young people grow up with different histories of access to technology and therefore different opportunities. This leads to the conclusion that measures of access tell only part of the story, and that it may be more important to understand the nature of the technology-based activities in which young people engage. Bennet and Maton (2010:323)

Content creation activities (as measured by items such as creating text, graphics, audio or video) are consistently lower than might be anticipated given many claims about what young people are doing with technology. In fact, with the exception of social networking, most activities associated with Web 2.0 are engaged in by a minority of respondents on key large-scale surveys (e.g. Salaway & Caruso 2007; Kennedy et al. 2009; Jones et al. 2010. Bennet and Maton (2010:324)

Green and Hannon (2007) suggested different user types with their own particular expertise: ‘digital pioneers’, ‘creative producers’, ‘everyday communicators’ and ‘information gatherers’.

It is clear from this recent research that there is significant variation in the ways in which young people use technology, suggesting that rather than being a homogenous generation, there is a diversity of interests, motivations and needs. So while some young people might be regarded as ‘digital natives’, these are by no means characteristics shared by all young people simply because of their exposure to digital technologies. Bennet and Maton (2010:325)

The lack of evidence for the existence of an entire generation of digital natives seriously undermines arguments made for radical change to education because of a proclaimed disjuncture between the needs of young people and their educational institutions. This is not to say that education should not change at all, but merely, that the basis of the argument, as it is currently made, is fundamentally flawed. Bennet and Maton (2010:325)

Not only do they fail to acknowledge the ways in which formal education does change, but they devalue it to such an extent that it is difficult to comprehend what it could offer. It is to discount wholly the notion that formal education can and does provide an important complement to informal learning (Facer & Furlong 2001; Jenkins 2004).

In short, a defining characteristic of knowledge gained in a formal educational context is that it is pedagogized knowledge. That is, it is knowledge that has been selected, re-arranged into a particular sequence within a curriculum, and recontextualized within specific contexts of teaching and learning (Singh 2002 in Bennet and Maton 2010:327)

Elsewhere we have argued that much of the discussion about digital natives has taken the form of an ‘academic moral panic’, in which dramatic language proclaiming profound change and a series of strongly bounded divides close down genuine debate (Bennett et al. 2008).

They are the same as claims made, for example, in the late 1950s and early 1960s about a generation of students immersed in new forms of commercial culture, such as television and popular music. (Bennet and Maton 2010:328)

Erasing the past in this way renders social and intellectual change an ‘article of faith’ rather than an ‘object of inquiry’ (Moore & Maton 2001). The past becomes a ‘foreign country’ and the young and old are considered to inhabit different worlds. Given the research evidence to the contrary and the illogic of such a position, it is futile to continue with these kinds of arguments. (Bennet and Maton 2010:328)

Another feature of the debate is what can be termed a ‘certainty–complacency spiral’ that enables the uncritical reproduction of the terms ‘digital native’ or ‘Net Generation’ in ways that give both of them a credence they do not deserve and amplifies their significance. The more certain authors are that digital natives exist, the less likely they seem to be to question claims made about them by other authors. For example, publications comprising unevidenced claims have often been routinely cited as if they contained researched evidence. This complacent, uncritical acceptance of the veracity of such claims in turn encourages further certainty, as the number of publications adopting the term grows. (Bennet and Maton 2010:328)


Bennett, S., Maton, Karl., Kervin, L. (2008) The ‘digital natives’ debate: A critical review of the evidence. British Journal of Educational Technology Volume 39, Issue 5,Article first published online: 5 FEB 2008 (viewed 13 Dec 2012).

Downes T. (1998) Using the computer at home. In IT for Learning Enhancement (ed. M. Monteith), pp. 61–78. Intellect Books, Oxford.

Facer K. & Furlong R. (2001) Beyond the myth of the ‘cyberkid’: young people at the margins of the information revolution. Journal of Youth Studies 4, 451–469.

Jenkins H. (2004) The myths of growing up online. Technology Review. Available at: http://www.technologyreview. com/Biotech/13773 (last accessed 19 October 2009).

Jones, Chris (2012). The new shape of the student. In: Huang, Ronghuai; Kinshuk, and Spector, J. Michael eds.Reshaping Learning – The Frontiers of Learning Technologies in Global Context. New Frontiers of Educational Research. New York: Springer, (In press).

Jones C., Ramanaua R., Cross S. & Healing G. (2010) Net generation or Digital Natives: is there a distinct new generation entering university? Computers and Education 54, 722–732.

Kennedy G., Dalgarno B., Bennett S., Gray K., Waycott J., Judd T., Bishop A., Maton K., Krause K. & Chang R. (2009) Educating the Net Generation – A Handbook of Findings for Practice and Policy. Australian Learning and Teaching Council. Available at: http://www.altc.edu.au/ system/files/resources/CG6-25_Melbourne_Kennedy_ Handbook_July09.pdf (last accessed 19 October 2009).

Kerawalla L. & Crook C. (2002) Children’s computer use at home and at school: context and continuity. British Educational Research Journal 28, 751–771.

Ituma, A 2011, ‘An Evaluation of Students’ Perceptions and Engagement with E-Learning Components in a Campus Based University’,Active Learning In Higher Education, 12, 1, pp. 57-68, ERIC, EBSCOhost, viewed 13 December 2012.

Singh P. (2002) Pedagogising knowledge: Bernstein’s theory of the pedagogic device. British Journal of Sociology of Education 23, 571–582.

Trinder, K., Guiller, J., Margaryan, A., Littlejohn, A. & Nicol, D. 2008. Learning from digital natives: bridging formal and informal learning. The Higher Education Academy
<http://www.academy.gcal.ac.uk/ldn/LDNFinalReport.pdf&gt; [Accessed 20 August 2012]

Moore R. & Maton K. (2001) Founding the sociology of knowledge: Basil Bernstein, intellectual fields and the epistemic device. In Towards a Sociology of Pedagogy: The Contribution of Basil Bernstein to Research (eds A. Morais, I. Neves, B. Davies&H.Daniels), pp. 153–182. Peter Lang, NewYork.

Prensky M. (2001) Digital natives, digital immigrants. On the Horizon 9, 1–6.

Prensky, M 2009, ‘H. Sapiens Digital: From Digital Immigrants and Digital Natives to Digital Wisdom’, Innovate: Journal Of Online Education, 5, 3, ERIC, EBSCOhost, (viewed 13 Dec 2012).

Rogers, E.M. (2003) Diffusion of Innovations (5th edn), New York, Simon and Schuster.

Salaway G. & Caruso J. (2007) The ECAR Study of Undergraduate Students and Technology. EDUCAUSE, Boulder, CO.

Tapscott, D (1998) Growing Up Digital: The Rise of the Net Generation McGraw-Hill Companies.

Three approaches to the same content: reseach, report, presentation. All we’re missing is the article in a popular magazine.

The Smith and Caruso (2010) ‘The ECAR study of undergraduate students and information technology, 2010’ is on objective report, a snap shot in time, professionally executed and commented upon objectively.

Kennedy’s survey (2006) ‘Questioning the net generation: a collaborative project in Australian higher education’of the same cohort of undergraduate students from three Australian Universities had an objective, a problem to solve i.e. is there any foundation for the idea of a ‘Net Generation’, or ‘Digital Natives’.

The third type of presentation Conole et al. (2008) ‘“Disruptive technologies”, “pedagogical innovation”: What’s new? is an easy read the style is lucid, persuasive and conversational, as you’d expect from a seasoned speaker.

Each is different and ought to be commented upon for what it purports to be.

The insight here is three fold:

  1. the different ways information is presented,
  2. how all three approaches offer valid course materials or assets
  3. and because of their differences will evoke and expect a correspondingly different kind of comment.

You could say that with each of these in turn presentation style, and the skills at the presentation technique increase, while the academic content becomes diluted, more fluid and conversational. When in comes to comment or critique this should be born in mind; Grainne Conole’s presentation would not warrant the kind of scrutiny you’d give a report.

The final step would be an eight minute professional video, or covering all three, drawing in further reports and interviews with the experts and students, a documentary.

Though informative, I’d consider the first and second papers to offer the most calories to a student. The choice is down to the academic team: dean, academic expert and learning designer.

Digital Parents : Neither native nor immigrant

17th March 2011

I’ve been taken in by and am now set against the idea of that there is a generational difference when it comes to use of technology – yes those starting university today clearly have different experiences with the kit than we/I did (I was at Oxford in 1981-84).

The computer was in a lab. My Dad had a Microwriter. By 1985 I might have had an Amstrad and a pager.

My point with this Digital Natives thing is that the term was coined without foundation. It is now being debunked. How come the academic institutions went along with it? Had this faux pas occurred in the sciences proper and not social sciences the ho-ha would have featured on the Today Programme.

This isn’t a red top newspaper or tittle-tattle on local radio, so why get taken in by the hyperbole.

Anyway, the OU research folk have been busy these last few months releasing all kinds of papers on the theme. Here are some of them.

It is has never been generational.

‘Our research suggests that we should be cautious about distinguishing a specific generation because although there are age differences there are added factors differentiating students, specifically gender and disciplinary differences. We find significant age related differences but we are reluctant to conclude that there is a clear disconnection between a Net generation composed of Digital Natives and older students.’ ( Jones and Ramanau, 2010)

Read these for more

Jones, C and Ramanau, R (2010)

TECHNOLOGY ENHANCED LEARNING? UK Open University, United Kingdom

Jones, C A new generation of learners? (2010) The Net Generation and Digital Natives

Jones. C and Healing, G (2010) Net Generation Students

Humbug, journalism, popular writing, academic writing, dumbing down, engagement, access and democratization – the maelstrom of e-learning.

Have we dumbed down in the last decade?

I was on H804 BR227 Block 2-A1 on the 19th March 2001. I was in Barbara’s Tutor Group.

The block reading was extensive; it had arrived in a large cardboard box, along with CD-roms. Books galore. I’ve numbered the 33 items from which I need to read x paper or chapters. Have we dumbed down in the last decade?

Is reading, if only on a Kindle, no so valid?

Has quantity of content provided been replaced by the quantity of content we generated between each other? If so, it makes contribution the peer group and module cohort all the more important.

We are meant to browse through these and select one. Skim reading as a ‘good study technique’ of the 1990s at the OU. Is this no longer so? I fancy an Amazon reviewing approach to all required reading. I’d then pick one five-star, one three star and one that hadn’t received a rating. It’s about as good as my old technique – alphabetical order. Skim read 33 items then choose one? Never. Read all of them, then choose surely. In business if I had to review products, or interview new candidates would I do the job properly, or just give them a cursory glance? ‘If you find something on ODl course design in the set books, or in H80X Resources, which is not currently listed in the Reading guide, just email me with the details. I’ll add it to the list. John (John Pettit).

Interestingly an article we then read from Cisco does something similar to the review suggestions above, not as basic as a start rating but ‘Sounding Off’ in which the first few words of comment and listed from sixteen or so commentators.

I then turn to printed off pages, marked up with a highlighter pen. (I can’t find myself stumbling across such paperwork with such Serendipity in ten years time should I care to reconsider the contents of MAODE 2010-2011. It will be buried in, by then, 10,000 assets in my e-portfolio. As I call it, like looking for a needle in a stack of needles. Something no string of tags can save you from … because every item has a similar set of tags. Where is ‘serendipity’ 2021? Years ago I put an ‘Enter@Random’ button in my blog., I’m yet to think of a more advanced way to tap into my mind).

In this article John Chambers CEO of CISCO says

‘The next big killer application for the Internet is going to be education.’

This is too often misquoted outside the realm of corporate training – what he has in mind here is how to keep 4,000 Cisco sales people up to speed and better able to sell, not how to educate classroom based school kids.

Is the next step the Open School?

To home educate? It would make better use of what the Internet offers. I do wonder how or why I’ve ended up nailed first to the locally primary school and then an affordable private school within walking distance. My wife and I are both freelance, who cares where we could be in the world as we do everything online.

Remind me to go to the estate agents. We’re selling up!

Meanwhile, I’m glad to see ‘e-learning’ used here; I was convinced it was a term coined recently. ‘Ultimately, Tom Kelly says, e-learning will be most effective when it no longer feels like learning – when it’s simply a natural part of how people work.’ If you do things in small chunks, she continues, they become just another part of your job. And what I like most of all, ‘E-learning will be successful when it doesn’t have its own name.’

My children wouldn’t call it e-learning

It’s just homework, whether in a text book or using a computer, which may or may not go online. Do we different where our TV feed comes from anymore? It’s just more TV. It is has taken me exactly one week, courtesy of a Kindle, to drop any idea of e-readers, e-books or e-reading … these are books, this is reading – the means of distribution is different, that’s all, it’s as if I have an electronic butler handing me one sheet of the book at a time. Bliss.

I’m still some way off why I’m reading this and writing about, just picking up echoes from the past as I go through it. Kelly had some insights on e-learning (which he defines as Web-based education):

    1. Small is beautiful
    2. Blends are powerful
    3. Measure what matters
    4. New technologies require new leaders

      Was I listening back then?

      I think we were too busy trying to reinvent the world.

      These four points are understood today as:

      • Chunking
      • Participation across platforms
      • The business of measuring outcomes.

      Simply put ‘If technology adoption occurs faster because the sales force is better-trained, we have real business impact that’s measurable.’

      And then the punch line

      “One real; problem with e-learning is that traditional training people are in charge of it. No wonder it doesn’t work! Can you imagine if the post office was in charge of email?”

      Does this apply to libraries?

      Think of a book as a parcel, a report as a letter. Do we want it delivered by the Post … or by email? Are librarians best equipped to migrate digitised content to the e-brain?

      There is then a paper, I guess the equivalent of a lecture, a piece of content purpose-written for the course.

      It is good to see Vygotsky, Piaget and Papert in here .. but what of Prensky from ‘The Power of Digital Game based Learning’.

      Prensky makes this suggestion via research done by cognitive psychologists ‘such as Bruer and Tapscott in the late nineties who speculated that the young people’s minds have been literally ‘altered by the effect of a key set of digital formative experiences‘.

      Prensky then, no better than a salesman links a truism with an unproven (and unfounded) suggestion.

      ‘Tapscott’s research indicated that young people are living, playing, communicating, working in and creating communities very differently than their parents (truism) and that the ‘hard wiring’ of young people’s brains has been effectively altered by digitally based learning experiences in the last decade.’ (unfounded, ‘effectively altered’ is what alerts me).

      Let me see what I can find, where all just a click away from Google

      So I buy this to feast on:

      I’m going to have to go through these notes.

      Courtesy of Kindle I can highlight and take notes.

      I find myself rattled by everything Prensky says and how it is presented, from the glowing recommendations, to his extensive biography, to the unqualified, uncited, unresearched ‘hear say’ that considers itself to be serious study.

      He mentions the ‘popular writer Malcolm Bradbury’ but falls into the same trap of conjuring up presumptions that have no foundation in fact. This is less than journalism. It is invention. It may be what he thinks, but no one gets a word in edge ways to say whether he is right or wrong.

      As I read I felt as if I was at best listening to an after dinner speech, at worst a stand-up comic

      Prensky preaches to the converted, a certain group of secondary and primary school teachers who I can see nodding along to every platitude that Prensky offers.

      That’s my summary; the report will follow

      Book by book, blow by blow.

      Seeing Prensky so often quoted in the OU files, in 2001 and still, surprises me.

      I feel like the little boy in the crowd pointing out that the King is wearing no clothes.

      I may eat my words, I often do

      But for now, this is my stance, which I prefer to sitting on the fence.



      Cisco’s Quick Study by Ann Muoio. From FC issue 39, page 286. http://www.fastcompany.com/online/39/quickstudy.html

      Prensky M (2001) Digital Game based learning, McGraw Hill.


      %d bloggers like this: