Twitch-Speed

haulin netLast week, Marc Prensky presented to the North Carolina e-Learning Commission in Wilmington, NC. Our own Broad Creek Middle School principal Cathy Tomon is a member of that commission.

I have read Prensky’s work, but this was the first time I saw him present. He is a proponent of computer gaming as serious educational enterprise. He markets a few games through one of his businesses, Games2Train.

The e-Learning Commission is backing the new Learn and Earn On-line in North Carolina. In this education model, our high school students can take college courses on-line for free. Interestingly enough, Learn and Earn On-line has an Economics course which is in game format.

Econ 201: Principles of Microeconomics is a college student’s dream come true. . . The daddy of all economics courses is now a fast-paced video game, rich with academic content.

Prensky sees video games as the premier learning province of Digital Natives. Although I agree with the Digital Natives/Digital Immigrants theme he runs, I was more intrigued by his presentation style.

He flipped through his slides at twitch speed. In his groove, he would show slides for a second or two. I could not afford to become distracted. It put me in mind of the frame rates of television commercials . . . or the click-speed of kids on the Internet. It’s the way our brains are being programmed.

I compared this to a recent presentation that I attended in Greensboro. Basically, I knew I was in trouble when the presenter was still on the first slide 25 minutes into the presentation.

Don’t get me wrong. I am not saying all info needs to come down at the speed of light. I’m one of the dying breed who still savors printed and bound books. I generally have 2-3 going at a time. I love the quietness of a book.

But back to Prensky—he’s onto something. He claims to advocate for the kids. His rapid-fire presentation style aligns with his kid-centric gaming position. As always, we have to compare this to our teaching styles. Let’s be honest about how we are teaching kids today.

Are we engaging students? Or, are we enraging students?

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