Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Marc Prensky's keynote address

Marc Prensky's Keynote at the NYSCATE Technology Leadership Conference July 18, 2006
These are my notes from the address which are really more like bullet points of things that I really connected to. This is, of course, not the same as being there for others but you may find your own connections with some of these points.

Change is happening more rapidly now than even at the beginning of the 21st century.
Threatening to teachers...empowering to kids. hmmm...

IT power is doubling every year

Interconnected information

Solving problems with the tools we have (pre-21st century) - everything has tools, we learned to use them, help kids learn to use them

Inventing new tools to solve problems - 21st centruy +

When will this change end? There's no destination...

"most of us prefer to walk backwards into the future...." Charles Handy

"Without motivation there is no learning" James Paul Gee
"If a learner is motivated, there's no stopping him" Will Wright

Why educators are having problems
The world is changing
Our students are changing - they are not the ones we were trained to teach
Engagement is changing

In a year (?), our kids are exposed to:
5,000-10,000 hr video games
240,000 emails and IMS
10,000hrs on cell phone
20,000 hr tv
500,000 commercials
5,000 hr reading books

Kids are downloading:
2 billion songs per month
6 billion text messages per day
2 billion ring tones per year

Brains like ours alter profoundly to fit the technologies and practices that surround them. - Andy Clark

Digital Immigrants--->Digital Natives
conventional speed ---> twitch speed
step by step ---> random access
linear processing ---> parallel processing/multitasking
text first ---> graphics first (text backs up image)
work oriented ---> play oriented
stand alone ---> connected

"Students are not just using technology differently today, but are approaching their life and their daily activities differently because of technology." Net Day 2005(06)


Digital immigrants - we will never be in the same place as the kids are where technology is concerned, we leave a foot in the past.
printing out our emails
no instant messaging
not going to the internet first
thinking real life happens only off line
thinking teaching = learning ( not necessarily)
thinking learning has to be work

Learning feels like play when you have engagement.

Today's kids go online - they can ALWAYS find something to do online - they know what engagement feels like, want to feel engaged all the time.

But for lots of kids today, most education is boring even with technology - just because we give them technology doesn't mean they're not bored, we have to use technology in an engaging way. [this is an interesting statement ---we've long been thinking about the fact that using new technology to do old things in old ways doesn't make a difference]
"Going to school is powering down."

Engagement is more important than content for today's kids; even more important than technology
Content will change! Content won't help students continue to learn throughout their lives, but engagement will.

Outside of school, kids are empowered.

What people put into the Internet is more important than what they take out. - Tim Berners-Lee

Young learners are ...hands on, want things to be fun, love to share ("knowledge is power", sharing is power).

Not ADD, but rather EOE (engage me or enrage me)
It's not attention deficit - I'm just not listening!

Dec 2005 Educational Leadership article by Marc Prensky

Kids have to learn about the future on their own
School is - legacy stuff, irrelevant, pushed on them, boring
after school - future learning

Foster this message: we are all learners, we are all teachers
Learn how to teach using tools you can't fully master - tools will come fast and go fast
Coming too fast to master
Teachers need to know - how to teach using tools that are unfamiliar to them and that they can't fully master
So, don't waste your time learning to use new tools because the kids can do it.

As a teacher you need to understand the new technologies so you can teach.... [this was shown as a chart as follows]

Assign - design a wikipedia entry for...
Evaluate - communication, journalism, use of multimedia, creativity
Teach - search vs. research, fair use vs. plagiarism

Assign - make a podcast about...
Evaluate - communication, journalism, use of multimedia, creativity
Teach - oral vs. written communication

Assign - Desing a class using only IM
Evaluate - usefulness, breadth, depth, originality
Teach - informal vs. formal communication

Phone based cameras
Assign - take and photoshop a picture to best illustrate...
Evaluate - communication, originality, artistry, technique
Teach - pictures vs. words, truth vs manipulation, appropriate vs. inappropriate

Seven key things to take from complex game design:
engagement, gameplay, goals, decisions (give you feedback), leveling up (to get from one level to another, you have to practice), adaptivity (increasing levels of difficulty), iteration (what needs to be changed ?)

Teachers are used to
content first
linear stories
one thing at a time


Almost every student already has a powerful computer in their backpack - cell phones, pda's
What can you learn from a cell phone? article on innovateonline

We have to start evaluating kids with THEIR tools.

adopt new attitudes and behaviors - mutual respect, engagement first, valuing what students know and do, create important goals, let students use the technology

share your successes through blogs, wikis, etc - put it on the web

tech leader:
fight hard for the kids - 1:1 computing, email, IM, open Internet, cell phones, success sharing, kids do-teachers teach

continually ask yourself: would the kids be here if they didn't have to be?

No one says it's EASY - it will take a lot of effort, but that's why the kids will thank us when we succeed

Kid's relationships, the way they have relationships is changing

How do we take all the tools that we have to create a "whole"?
If you wanted to make one change in the tech in the schools, what would it be? [this question was posed to two students who were invited to be a part of this conference]
• allow IM with others at school
• without communication -it's frustrating to students
• giving students a common place to communicate (on the Internet)

Understanding how kids think
Cell phones disconnect as well as connect you - cell phones allow you to do other things at the same time

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Imagine the possibilities

Imagine the possibilities of this technology for both instruction and professional development. These are some slides saved from a PowerPoint presentation that I had recently created. I went to, where I had created an account, uploaded the slides, and organized them in an album. It took my album of pictures and gave me the html code so that I could then share them to this blog. I still have some narration to add to these [you can record 30 sec of narration per slide] but I think that when I do that while logged into Bubbleshare, it's going to show up here too. Love it!

An Instructional Toolbox concept...still in progress

I woke up this morning thinking about this idea of an instructional toolbox - trying to work through this as a concept. Two categories occur to me into which we might place our tools for instruction. [you might also see that these two categories can apply to learning tools for students]

The categories are Sustaining and Evolving. The Sustaining tools are those that don't take a huge degree of "technical" skills to use. They are procedural in nature and, with practice, we become better at using them. I'm thinking this would include textbooks and other printed materials, instructional strategies, classroom management. The Evolving tools are declarative in nature. These are tools we use but must constantly revisit to examine their worth for particular kinds of instruction and our concepts about their use should grow over time. I'm thinking mainly about technologies because of their evolving nature.

I made technologies plural for a very good reason. When we think of technology in a classroom, we tend to think about the computer first and then we probably extend that thought into particular pieces of software. But, technology becomes plural when we think about other devices and other forms. For instance, the SmartBoard can be considered a technology as can an iPod, personal response systems, Palm-like devices (handhelds), etc. But new technologies are also being developed that are delivered within the Internet. Those technologies are podcasting, blogs, wikis, social bookmarking, RSS, and others. These technologies are where I've been spending most of my free time lately.

It's interesting to me that most of these are meant to be collaborative tools and they could very well replace the software that we currently use. For example, there's a site called where you can create simple graphic organizers and then invite others to view or edit that work. Blogs support the development of writing skills but, if we teach kids to use them well, we provide them with a more authentic audience, and those blogs could be used as a tool for discussion among class members, synthesis of ideas and application of knowledge. Wikis allow us to also write but in a more collaborative way. If I place text in a blog, it cannot be replaced or edited by anyone reading my blog, it can only be commented on. By contrast, a wiki allows me to place content on the web that is meant to be replaced, edited and worked on collaboratively.

Social bookmarking websites such as allow me to bookmark websites and I can "tag" those sites with keywords that would be appropriate to identify those sites. Not only that, but, I can go to and search for sites by tags. But, here's the really cool part for educators, I can designate other users as members of my network so that, if I bookmark a site, it is also shared within my network. A teacher then, could be sitting at home searching for sites appropriate to a unit of study for Social Studies, find a site, save it to his/her site and any other teacher in his/her network would also get this site. With a little careful planning, teachers could agree to certain tags to be used for sites in a particular unit to make it easier to retrieve them for students. The tag could be something like 5_SS_civilwar to indicate that it's appropriate to a study of the civil war in 5th grade social studies. Students don't have to have access to the teacher's account - they simply go to the teacher's site (mine is and search by the tag (which is provided by the teacher).

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Information in the 21st Century

I'm listening tonight for the second time, to a podcast done at the recent NECC conference. There is a panel of 4 or 5 people talking about Web 2.0 aka the Read/Write web. One of the points made by David Warlick, in response to a question about the future of web 2.0 in the classroom, is that, on the web information flows without containers.

So, as I thought about that, I wanted to see if I could create some sort of visual about the flow of information. I decided on this one as a way of describing what's been my experience over the past few weeks in reading several blogs, which connect their thoughts/content to other blogs, which lead me to particular resources, which intersects with something that someone else get the picture I think!

By contrast, the traditional classroom presents information in containers as if this is the only information we have to use or have access to. My guess is that these "containers" would be textbooks, worksheets, maps, globes, the teacher...

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

NECC Day 1

The NECC conference is going on in San Diego this week. NECC and some of the people who are attending are doing great things for those of us at home...NECC is providing webcasts and podcasts and some of the attendees are providing us with notes through their blogs.

David Warlick, my new favorite technology guru, did a session today called Telling the New Story. A guy who attended his session, Jeff Utecht, wrote about this on his blog today. Here's a quote that he wrote from the session:

We think technology as we were born in a time that was defined by our machines. Students today think in terms of information and stories. The information is more important than the technology they use. Can we as teachers and education move to a place where we can think of information and not technology?

Wow! We really need to think about this. Much of our students' day in school is about getting information but where is the information coming from and is it in a form that our students find accessible, easy to deal with?

Here's something else that occurs to me from this blog: maybe it's not the devices that our kids crave so much as what those devices can give them. Why would a kid beg for an iPod? Because it's the best way for him/her to carry around all of the music and videos that they really love. It's not really so much the iPod as it is the access to the information that's important to the user.

Love it!

Monday, July 03, 2006

Technology and professional development

I've just read a blog posting by a guy named Jeff Utecht. He was writing about professional development and points out that teachers don't know what they don't know about the technology training they need. They're comfortable with a few tools and really don't know what else is out there and they don't have time to explore anything new. One response to this blog was from Doug Johnson who says this: "My push has been to change the question from “What specific technology training would you find helpful next year?” to “What are your biggest educational challenges/goals for next year?” and then think about how technology can be tied back into them. I also like to ask “What is your WORST unit and how might we add a tech component to it that will improve it?”

This brings me back to a previous post of mine from June 25th. In that post, I was thinking about David Warlick's notion that we should be integrating curriculum instead of integrating technology and I was brainstorming some if...then statements in that regard. Doug Johnson's question "What specific educational challenges/goals for next year?" relates to this. Here are some examples I'm thinking of: for the past few summers, each of our elementary buildings has been going through a process of data analysis using state assessment data and others. This data is used to inform instructional goals for the next year. Let's pick a possible goal: "improve expository writing" and then construct an if-then situation. If we want students to improve their expository writing skills then we need to help them develop the skills related to this type of writing and we need to provide them with authentic situations in which to write. If we want to improve expository writing then we can provide students with instruction in the use of Inspiration to organize the content of their writing. We can provide our students with access to wikis which will allow them to use their declarative knowledge of [Social Studies] content to work on projects where expository writing is necessary to display their understanding of the content.

We really CAN integrate curriculum with the technology tools that are already readily available. Many of these tools take very little time and effort to employ in instruction.