Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Marc Prensky – Design Learning that Digital Natives Will Love 

Today I attended a presentation by Marc Prensky at the LearnNB event in Fredericton, New Brunswick. The entire presentation (audio and video) should be archived here in a matter of days. I highly recommend it to anyone interested to better understand the rationale behind the use of video games for learning purposes.

Here is my coverage:

Prensky puts a lot of emphasis on understanding what people he calls “digital natives” expect in terms of learning, training and work. The central notion of the presentation is that digital natives want to have fun, they are used to having fun and are expecting it in every aspects of their lives. If you are boring, you are losing them.

Digital natives are, generally speaking, people under the age of 20-25 that grew up with the Internet and video games. Prensky plugged some interesting stats about digital natives:

By the age of 21, they have in average:
- played 10 000 hours with video games
- sent/received 250 000 e-mails or instant messages
- had 10 000 cell phone conversations
- watched TV for 20 000 hours
- been exposed to 500 000 ads
- spent less than 5 000 hours reading

Digital natives are currently downloading 2 billion ring tones a year, 2 billion songs a day and are sending 3 billion text messages a day. Their interaction with the world is indeed different.

A good quote:

“brains like ours alter profoundly to fit the technologies and practices that surround them”

Those “altered” brains process information:
- Faster
- Randomly as opposed to step-by-step
- In parallel as opposed to in line
- With a preference for graphics and symbols as opposed to text
- By playing
- In connection as opposed to stand-alone

If there are digital natives, there are digital immigrants. At the age of 30, I often feel much more like an immigrant than a native. Prensky says that immigrants have accents that take the form of:
- printing out e-mails
- not thinking of using the Internet first for doing a task
- Not using instant messaging at work
- Typing with fingers instead of thumbs (game controllers)
- Thinking that real life happens only offline

Other quotes:
“ Students think that their Internet cookies know more about their interests than their teachers”

“What counts is not what we give them, it is what they get”

For Prensky, the solution is to put engagement before the content. I totally agree. This is why the current focus on learning objects is to me a complete loss of resources. A question: Do Digital Natives care about learning objects? I’m pretty sure that the answer is no. But they do care about learning and having fun. This is what should be the starting point of so-called e-learning R&D projects.

Gamers spend an average of 30-100 hours per game, which is almost equivalent to the time spent on an average semester course.

A James Paul Gee quote:

« You can’t beat a game unless you learn it »

Games are the most intellectually challenging format we have at the present time.

The average student asks a question in class at every 40 hours. In games, decision-making is continuous.

Ouf! A lot of ideas in a very short time frame… I was already convinced but it now gives me some more to think about. Again, I really recommend the presentation.

Heureux d'avoir trouver ton carnet, Yan.
Lorsque Prensky nous a mis en situation (de façon humoristique et quelque peu décapante), j'ai retenu celle-ci, lue sur un gaminet (T-shirt) : "It's not attention deficit; I'm just not listening!" Et vlan!

Merci pour cette synthèse! JC
J'ai bien aimé également. En passant ça fait du bien d'avoir un commentaire en français de temps en temps :-)
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