The work of Dr. Marc Prensky is quite interesting in that it dwells on the main reason of the decline in education system, results of which most educators are compelled to face with, even without suspecting or realizing it. He asserts that it is the generation gap separating today’s students from their teachers and summarizes the main reason by stating that “Our students have changed dramatically. Today’s students are no longer the people our education system was designed to teach.”
He mentions that today’s students have not just altered their dressing style, slang or appearance, but a lot more has been changed, and he exemplifies this change by a striking example of the amount of time spent on using technological devices compared to the time spent on reading books. He also states that “ a big discontinuity has taken place” which he names as “singularity”, and it led to a new thinking pattern in which he means they think and process information differently from their predecessors including thinking fast, parallel thinking and multi-tasking. Furthermore, he even states that today’ generation’s brains are likely to be physically different because of the tremendous input they received while growing up. He calls this generation “Digital Natives”, a term used for people born in the digital era, and “Digital Immigrants” referring to those born and grew up in pre-computer era, and throughout the article he mentions the differences lying between Digital Natives and Digital Immigrants, and its consequences.
Associating the situation with cultural migration, he asserts that it very unlikely that Digital Natives will go backwards in which the traditional educators feel comfortable and are talented at teaching; therefore, he advocates that we need to get used to the new thinking pattern and reconsider our teaching style by adapting our “methodology and content”. He suggests that teachers are compelled to communicate in the language and style of their students. However, it does not mean changing the meaning of what is important, but it means changing the way you teach accordingly. The second issue dealt with is content – “legacy content” and “future content”. The former includes reading, writing, arithmetic, logical thinking etc. On the other hand, the latter one includes software, hardware, robotics, genomics etc. and it also includes ethics, politics, sociology, language, and other things that go with them which catch attention of today’s generation. When he mentions the former one, he dwells on that these skills are still quite important; however, some of them will vanish in time, and he underlines that it is the latter one calling today’s generation’s attention. At this point, he poses the critical question: how many Digital Immigrants are prepared to teach it?
Having stated that the year the writer wrote the article can be no coincidence, I definitely agree with Dr. Prensky that worldviews of “Digital Immigrants” and “Digital Natives” represents are so different. Additionally, it has consequences educators have to deal with, and it is the educators that need to bridge the gap between “them” and “us”. Hence, it is crucial to adapt not only the methodology but also the content accordingly to reach Digital Natives without changing the meaning of what is important.
Prensky, M. (2001). Digital natives, digital immigrants. On the Horizon, 9(5), 1-6.