Monday, 18 April 2011

Creative Thinking in Digital Natives

What stimulates creative thinking in learners?
Marc Prensky[1] , an educationist coined the term ‘Digital Natives’ way back in year 2001. Much of this write up is based on his research and my own experiences with digital natives. You must have guessed by now that I am a self acknowledged digital immigrant who is continually and positively trying to adapt to the ever changing technology driven environment. Change has become my pedagogical stimulant in many ways. I hope to be able to challenge myself and my students that they need to know themselves as learners too, for soon they will be digital migrants of the even more rapidly changing technology and social media environment.
Creative thinking stimulants in learners has changed and evolved rapidly in the past few years. New skills have developed in learners of the digital world, and so I believe that the stimulants of creative thinking have changed too.  As stakeholders in education, the learner and the facilitator both need to reflect and begin understanding that that the brain of the net generation or the ‘Y’ generation thinks differently.
There is much research into brainology these days. My first exposure to the ways of the brain was through ‘The Brain Man’ John Joseph’s[2] professional development seminar at school that set me thinking and acknowledging that perhaps students do think differently. Students can vividly remember details of computer games and their other such interests but find it an uphill task to recall or apply anything that was remotely connected to official curriculum driven education. Yes I know, it may seem the reason that we all usually cite, that students were not adequately motivated, but really they were very motivated at those times, perhaps not to learn but just to improve their grades. So it’s how they learn that is of importance. No wonder, John Joseph who challenges students to learn about learning suggested that if were to let students play computer games first and then make them study, they will be in a better position to learn as their brain cells will have been stimulated by the quick change of graphics of the computer games.

According to Marc Prensky, humans who have “ accustomed to the twitch-speed, multitasking, random-access, graphics-first, active, connected, fun, fantasy, quick-payoff world of their video games, MTV, and Internet are bored by most of today’s education, well meaning as it may be. But worse, the many skills that new technologies have actually enhanced (e.g., parallel processing, graphics awareness, and random access)—which have profound implications for their learning—are almost totally
Ignored by educators.”  Students of this generation with their computer games, facebook and twitter….  are screaming for change.
How do we as educators bring about this kind of learning environment in the classroom? How do we ensure that our students are learning and reflecting on their learning?
We perhaps need radical mind set changes and changes in the whole notion of schooling within the parameters of the classrooms and organizational setups. Since that change is like being a few light years away, perhaps what I need is to take small steps to bring about the changes in my own classroom.
It’s acknowledging this change of learning in digital learners, that they think differently, that more focus was given to a business assignment that required use of technology. Not to say that such video assignments haven’t been done before, but this assignment was a conscious shift in my perspective as a facilitator, acknowledging that digital natives think differently.
So really, what stimulates creative thinking in digital learners…?
Work Cited
Focus Education . Focus Education. 18 April 2011 <>.
Prensky, Marc. Marc Prensky. 2008. 18 April 2011 <>.

[1] (Prensky)
[2] (Focus Education )

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Embracing Technology 360˚

Confucius has said,
“They must often change, who would be constant in happiness or wisdom?”
And so I encouraged my senior humanities class doing a business course to change from a ‘limited use of technology assignment’ to an assignment that evaluated not only their conceptual understanding of business terms but also their technology skills.
The main reason for introducing this assignment that involved a video production on a business concept is my innate belief that, students of this generation (X or is it Y now?) are in their comfort zone when using technology whether they understand the complexities of it or not because that is what sparks and stimulates elements of creative thinking in them.
I hope to be able to substantiate my theory of creative stimulus in today’s digital native learners with research, journaling through observation of students attitudes towards the assignment, the learning process and students own feedback and reflection over the assignment.