Handheld Learning 2007: Keeping up with Change (Marc Prensky)

I’m slowly reviewing the videos of Handheld Learning 2007, which have been generously recorded and shared in audio and video podcasts.

In this keynote, Marc Prensky presents his thoughts on the speed of change, the need for educators to embrace change and look to the future of learning, and rethink what and how students of the future will learn.

Marc’s a terrific and passionate presenter, with a distinguished career. His presentation touches on his ideas of the past which have gained him his reputation as a thought leader: digital immigrants and digital natives, and the importance of technology as the “future” for our students.

Having watched this video, however, I could not help but wonder if Marc is becoming increasingly obsolete himself. His role in the past has been a crucial one – to “prophesy” and evangelise the speed of change and the generational gaps between teachers and students. But Marc does not seem to have grasped that the world has already changed (again). You see, my feeling is that evangelising the need for change at a mobile learning conference is preaching to the converted. Educators and technologists engaged in the exploration of mobile learning area are already innovating at a coal seam of educational technology. While slower, less progressive educators may still be comfortably exploring e-learning on learning management systems or off CD-ROMs (or, indeed, still doing chalk-and-talk), educators investigating mobile learning are very much at the cutting edge of educational innovation, along with other educators investigating other areas such as the use of social web tools for education, and the use of virtual worlds as learning environments.

My experience at mLearn 2007 was that conversation centred around solutions – how educators are successfully deploying and using new technologies to support and enhance learning. There was *no* debate about whether or not technology was important to learners of the future, or whether m-learning could work, or whether young learners can, or want to use technology. Those issues have been settled comfortably (in Marc’s favour) at least a year ago (if not before).

We already know this stuff is important Marc! What educators need now are frameworks and paradigms for deploying mobile technologies to engage learners and enhance learning; open, scalable mobile learning products and systems that educators everywhere can use, deploy and develop to allow learners to create, share, and reflect; and content that works across mobile platforms.

Realising that “the world is changing” is for keynotes of the past. Now, keeping up with change means proposing and developing solutions and sharing best practices.

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5 thoughts on “Handheld Learning 2007: Keeping up with Change (Marc Prensky)

  1. Good one Leonard. I think there is still a place for the ‘the world is changing” message but granted, but not at a mobile learning conference, and not for people like you. There are still legions of people who haven’t got a clue about what is going on in the Net world.

    I really like this: “What educators need now are frameworks and paradigms for deploying mobile technologies to engage learners and enhance learning.” May use it in an absract I have to write!” Will accredit of course.

  2. Well in fairness to Marc – if you reflect back to a couple of keynote speakers they were also preaching to the converted e.g. wisdom of crowds. But were they? No! There were many people present at mlearn that were new – and had not heard these messages before.

    My gripe with Marc is the whole digital natives/immigrants message which causing misconceptions of the ability of our youth. He also preaches that digital literacies (but programming) are the skills required of the 21 st Century. Definitely digital literacies are a must but programming…mmm

  3. Even when Marc Prensky came to Australia in early 2006 for the educationau tour, his presentation was being criticised in some quarters for being out-of-date and without any revision from some of his earlier appearances in the US. Ewan McIntosh himself was quite scathing in a comment on Bernie Dodge’s blog. It sounds very much like someone who’s nailed his presentation down to the exact (250+) slide and taken it on a two year world wide tour, ignoring the very exponentiality that he likes to point out to others.

  4. Thanks Sue and Graham… it’s a shame Marc’s apparently stuck in a rut. Hopefully he’ll give himself a chance to rethink and refresh, and come out with some new ideas – if he keeps doing the same presentation over and over, it’ll eventually be painfully like watching someone sell piano-key neckties… :/ out of fashion, out of touch, and well and truly out of date…

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