EPSY556 Week 6 Readings

I’ve read Prensky’s article about Digital Natives vs. Digital Immigrants before, and I find myself mentioning it more and more in formal and informal discussions about education and technology.  In fact, at work, we use these terms often to describe colleagues and co-workers.  I think Prensky’s reasoning is sound, and I see evidence of his ideas every day in my job at the computer science department; I see students using technology in ways that I would have never imagined back when I was an undergrad and in ways that I’m not sure I could conceive being an immigrant when compared to them.

Which is why I’m glad we got to read more of Prensky this week.  And this article was, in my opinion, a necessary and logical step in progression from the ideas presented in his Digital Natives vs. Immigrants article.  I think the idea of digital wisdom is central to what the CTER program is about, and something we’ve discussed in class on several occasions; and that is the notion of making informed decisions about the how’s and the why’s of incorporating emerging technologies in education.  All the money and gadgets in the world will do little good for any student unless there’s a plan and a method involved–which is one of the main points of the “Connecting the Digital Dots” article and the others.  One particular point Prensky makes in this article reminded me of a book by Malcolm Gladwell titled, Blink, where he discusses how many of our “gut” reactions and decisions are in fact based on subconscious cues and other information that we process unconsciously.  If we incorporate Prensky’s digital wisdom into this idea, just imagine how much more accurate these subconscious decisions/gut reactions of ours will be if we include this ever-increasing amount of data and information that technology offers to us.  I was also intrigued by Prensky’s explanation of how in the past, theories were postulated, then data was gathered to support it–and how that process is being almost reversed now with such an abundance of data, relationships in that data are becoming evident in and of themselves, once an informed eye–or a visually literate person, depending on your definition of VL–is able to interpret it.

I think the example CD-ROM presented in the Gardner and Veenema effectively illustrates the benefits–and potential pitfalls–of multimedia as an educational tool.  The advantages are usually readily apparent, but I give credit to the authors for making sure to include some of the potential drawbacks, namely making the distinction between a student’s attraction to the more engaging medium vs. actually learning from it.  Another important idea addressed in this article is that of funneling the information so that the student has enough to explore different perspectives, yet not too much to overwhelm him or her.  And this ties into the idea of a webquest, I think; since that is part of a webquest’s structure, to direct students toward specific websites and information so they can adequately perform the webquest’s activities.

Lastly, when reading the “The Fifth Literacy” article, I was reminded of a video that I saw a few years ago that illustrates one of the ideas of visual literacy, that of communication strategies and how images are manipulated and distorted for varying purposes.  In fact, I’ve used this video to illustrate the idea of perception vs. reality in advertising to my 12-year old daughter–and I believe it is the medium of the message (“the medium is the message”, after all) that is what allowed me to make the point in a way that I could not have otherwise.  Here’s the video: