Reading Blog 4 – September 18, 2015

“Do They Really Think Differently?” (p. 12-25) by Marc Prensky from “The Digital Divide: Arguments for and Against Facebook, Google, Texting, and the Age of Social Networking.”

In Mark Prensky’s follow-up article, he returns back to the idea of “digital natives” versus “digital immigrants.” In the previous article, Prensky talks about how digital natives’ brains are physically changing due to their exposure to digital media. Digital natives’ brains are wired differently than digital immigrants, and therefore they create and learn in different ways. In this article, Prensky talks about how everyone’s brain has the quality of neuroplasticity, which means that the brain can continue to restructure itself throughout the duration of one’s life. This neuroplasticity is what helps teenagers’ brains to adapt to electronic media, and how they’re so quick to learn about it and from it as well. Prensky also talks about the idea of malleability, and how a person’s daily experiences can change the way that their brain functions. According to Prensky, brain function cannot change overnight. It takes skilled practice, dedication, and focus in order to change the patterns of a person’s brain. He argues that this is the perfect reason as to why video games work as one of the best learning tools a person can take advantage of. Video games capture the attention of the student, making them want to use the program daily and with sharp focus. Essentially, Prensky wants to stress how video games are a language that needs to be learned by digital immigrant educators. If those educators want their students to really learn what they are teaching, then they need to come up with fun,interactive, and well-designed games in order for them to understand what is being taught. Prensky’s research shows that video games do help the cognitive function of today’s digital natives, and it helps them to learn real content.

Links:

  1. “Game-Based Learning: What it is, Why it Works, and Where It’s Going” http://www.newmedia.org/game-based-learning–what-it-is-why-it-works-and-where-its-going.html – This link talks about game-based learning, and how it’s an advantage for today’s students. It compares and contrasts traditional teaching and game-based learning, and it concludes that game-based learning can be very advantageous depending on the environment in which it is practiced, and also the content that is being learned.
  2. “How Video Games in the Classroom Will Make Students Smarter” http://www.forbes.com/sites/jordanshapiro/2015/03/30/how-video-games-in-the-classroom-will-make-students-smarter/ – This link talks about how video games are a creative tool to assist with learning because of it’s “metacognitive distance,” which allows students to think about the way that they think.
  3. “Cognitive Benefits of Playing Video Games” https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/freedom-learn/201502/cognitive-benefits-playing-video-games – This article discusses the physical and emotional benefits to playing video games. For example, it talks about how video games can help with a teenager’s visual processes, attention and vigilance, and job-related skills.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Would game-based learning limit the interaction between students and their teachers?
  2. How can instructors distinguish between games that are just “drills with eye candy” and games with “real content?”
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