Since I’ve been spending my ACRL conference weekend taking care of my digital natives, rather than talking about them with colleagues, I decided to go back and read through Prensky’s first digital native article from 2001.
The article itself reads like the first chapter out of Prensky 2006 book, Don’t Bother Me Mom, but that’s a good thing. The tone and content of his article still rings true today, over 5 years later. In fact, his message is even more important today because these are the students we are seeing at all levels of education. How Prensky describes these digital natives is not dramatically different than the published literature on “millennials.” But I prefer the term “digital native” because it is not just about the current generation, the term and the learning strategies attached to it apply to all generations to come that have grown up with technology.
Digital natives (ie. Our students) prefer information that comes faster, is less step-by-step, and has random access points that provide choice and personalization. Prensky points out that this does not mean that we dumb down what we teach to make it more appealing, in fact the opposite is true, it makes the content less appealing. These strategies do not change the “what” – core content, critical thinking, but it does change the “how.” Prensky encourages educators to get rid of teaching “slowly, step-by-step, one thing at a time, individually, and above all, seriously.” Start thinking about those gaming strategies mentioned before and above and a more engaged classroom.