Engage Me or Enrage Me: Education Today’s Digital Native Learners
Marc Prensky

[ed: I heard Prensky’s message several years ago– the message is good, but not all that different. He has a strong message, does it with passion, shows on the screen a lot of “bumper sticker” statements. We’re almost 45 minutes in, maybe 50 slides, and… well it’s all “students are different from their teachers, they learn by engagement, and games can do this”. It seems ironic with all of his work and messages over the years, there are really just handfuls of examples where this is applied. It’s not necessarily or at all his fault… our institutions are moving just too damn slow or not at all… and somewhere under this, there might be some fear.]

Start with Game “Battle of the Brains”, joke about 2 shower heads in hotel room (“remember when shaving only used 2 blades?”)

Three Games:
1. Spot the “ums”
2. Count the Slides
3. Find what’s wrong

“Digital Game-Based Learning” (Marc Prensky)Digital Game Based Learning (2001)

New Book: “Don’t Bother Me Mom–I’m Learning!” (Marc Prensky)Don’t Bother Me Mom, I’m Learning

Change learning “before the end of the 21st century”.

Tool switching is instantaneous – CD — MP3, Walkman — iPod,

Pre-21st Century – solving problems with tools we have… 21st century inventing new tools to solve problems.

“There’s no destination (only a fast train)” Nobody gets this (ummm what about a million bloggers?) Prensky says students “get it” (assumption ALL students are in this mode– dangerous)

Reading at faster speeds Rapid Serial Visual Presentation

We’re not using imagination to take advantage of mobile technology (cell phones).

Don’t waste time learning to use tools (the kids can do that).

Wikipedia = “Search vs Research” — “How many of you use it” (lots of hand raising). “How many of you allow your kids to do their homework using it?” (fewer hands).

Understanding that Learning can’t be push. We can no longer just TELL students stuff. We have to ask, collaborate, generate engagement (motivation, passion)”.

“What percentage of the people in this room are under 25?” (none)

(.. meandering through the digital natives/immigrants stuff….)

For today’s students, engagement is more important than content. Content won’t help students continue to learn.

“What’s different about the new technology is that it is programmable” — Alan Kay

Students or not “ADD” but EOE “Engage me Or Enrage me”

“The cookies on my daughter’s computer know more about her interests than I do” — quote from principal

Games, games, games.

Use Games for instruction:
1. Use commercial games (Civilization for history; for Business: SimCity, “Tycoon Games”, Dance Dance revolution)
2. Use custom games (SuperCharged– phyiscs, “America’s Army”, “Surviving the Spanish Inquisition” see Education Arcade; “The ESP Game” — web based tagging)
3. Talk about games in class
4. Use game theory

Early exit needed to prepare for our session in 9:45am

Bottom line- there is a ramp up in buzz and talk about educational gaming, but is it happening.

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An early 90s builder of the web and blogging Alan Levine barks at CogDogBlog.com on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person.


  1. Prensky gave me a great idea for involving students in institutional planning: enlist their problem-solving strategies. I extrapolate to say, bring them in not as reps of a constituency, but as experts in certain types of problem-solving. Has real possibilities, I think. Otherwise, I thought the presentation was fine but a little too easy in that there was an awful lot of either/or thinking, and that always sends up a red flag for me.

    Thanks for blogging this.

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