Thoughts on teaching, technology, learning and life in an era of change.

Archive for October, 2007

The "Digital Natives" Debate Continues…
October 23rd, 2007

Back in September I wrote a post concerning the premise that adults, including teachers, are “Digital Immigrants” and that the students that we teach are “Digital Natives”. This terminology was coined by Marc Prensky some time back. I have used the terminology on a number of occasions myself. During the last couple of years, having worked closely with secondary school students, I have begun questioning the premise that underlies the terminology. In my original post I concluded that “perhaps they are not Digital Natives at all but simply Digital Dilettantes… they are, and I quote from a dictionary, an amateur or dabbler; especially, one who follows an art or a branch of knowledge sporadically, superficially, or for amusement only.”

Last Saturday David Thornburg wrote a post where he expresses regret that he had utilised the terms in the past. He also wrote that the terms were demeaning to educators. As he points out it is true that today’s students have grown up in a world where computers are reasonably ubiquitous but one cannot assume that this fact makes the students any more tech savvy than their teachers, or parents, for that matter.

The author of the Connectivism Blog has written an article critical of Marc Prensky’s position. He picks up on David Thornburg’s apology regarding the terminology as well. I cannot do it justice here. I strongly recommend that all interested parties read his views. He concludes “…aside from insulting an entire generation and coddling to the needs of younger learners, Prensky doesn’t provide us with a compelling model forward (other than “use digital games”).”

The author also makes a reference to “technology weariness” and “resistance to technology” among educators. He adds that hyped-up educational technology that fails the promise to deliver will only hurt future applications of these processes in teaching and learning.

I am now going to read Jamie McKenzie’s critique of Marc Prensky’s position in his article, “Digital Nativism, Digital Delusions and Digital Deprivation.” Jamie sets out, point by point, his views regarding Marc Prensky’s position.

Readers may think it curious that a teacher that readily incorporates technologies in the teaching and learning curriculum should post articles that seemingly go against the grain. Many major speakers and evangelists preach the premise that our students are the “digital natives”. I do not believe that we can make this blanket assertion for all students. I am a not alone in this belief.

I believe in a pragmatic and commonsense approach to educational technologies. [This is beginning to sound like a creed]. I have seen hundred of thousands of dollars pumped into multimedia and eLearning projects that are now idle. I have seen revenues in excess of six figures devoted to eLearning projects that are now obsolete (in under five years). I feel that is such a waste. I am yet to crystallise my approach but I essentially believe that educational technologies must only be incorporated into the teaching and learning curriuclum when it is appropriate and not simply “becasue it was there”. The application of the technology should

  • exactly match the specific knowledge, skill and attitudinal outcomes
  • complement, and not exclude, other tactics and strategies, traditional and otherwise
Perhaps I have achieved success with my recurring educational technology workshops in Sinagpore due to my pragmatic approach. I approach each workshop from the perspective of a down-to-earth and busy teacher. A realistic approach should be taken with the tool that is educational technology. Practical considerations should be weighed up above all else.
October 22nd, 2007

Installed Flock on the weekend. It is a cross between a browser and a feed manager. Kevin Lim had posted about the latest version and I thought it was wise to have another look at the tool

One neat trick. It allows you to save images to a temporary clip browser. I took a screen shot of the Flock window and in moments it was posted on Flickr and embedded in a blog post. I am even posting to this blog via Flock. That is quite handy.

As Kevin pointed out the latest version of Flock can be downloaded here.

Blogged with Flock

Record Collector Article about David Bowie Published
October 17th, 2007

Earlier this year I had the good fortune to collaborate on an article about David Bowie. He turned 60 this year and the article focused on 60 rare and intriguing recordings released during his career from 1964 through to the present. The article was published a couple of weeks ago in the Record Collector magazine.

I worked with Ruud Altenburg and Maarten Kwant, both of the Netherlands. We all had a great time writing the article and gathering together the images used throughout. Quite an experience and a further demonstration of the power of the Internet. The three of us have never actually met in person. We met via the web due to our interest in collecting records. Ruud is the creator of the excellent Illustrated db Discography. The article rated a couple of mentions on Bowie’s web site as well.

Vodcasting in a few easy steps
October 17th, 2007

During the last couple of years I have been conducting a variety of podcasting and vodcasting workshops. There was always two elements that proved challenging for the particpants. One was the process of ftp and the other was vodcasting on a Windows platform. There is a nice solution to both of these dilemmas. In a nutshell it is as follows:

1. Record your video using a digital video camera and process the digital video using iMovie (Mac), Windows Movie Maker (Win), Adobe Premiere and so on. Yoiu could also record the video directly using a web cam or iSight (Mac).
2. Upload the video to a Blogger blog within a typical post.
3. Obtain the RSS feed address for the blog and subscribe to it using the “Subscribe To Podcast” menu item in iTunes. The video feed within the blog will be accessed by iTunes and the embedded videos will be downloaded.

You can set up a blog following these instructions and then create a vodcast by reading these instructions.

Blogrolls generated via Google Reader
October 17th, 2007

I use Google Reader to scan through a variety of education blogs. Tonight I set up two blogrolls on this page using the instructions on this Google blog. The interface is not brilliant but I managed to add “tags” to the relevant feeds. They became folders which I could then use as the basis for each blogroll. The fact that an OPML file is created as well is quite useful.