Home > For the lieutenants: Drive the innovation process > Learning innovation in the Digital Natives age

Learning innovation in the Digital Natives age

I recently returned to Marc Prensky’s Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants landmark article, which features a now-classic example of learning innovation: creating the Monkey Wrench video game to get mechanical engineers to master a complex computer-aided-design software. While we can’t build a video game for every bit of teaching we need to do, there are some simple underlying lessons that we can draw from Prensky’s observations.

(In passing, I noted the reference to observing: “Observing that the users of CAD software were almost exclusively male engineers between 20 and 30, they said: Why not make the learning into a video game!”. I recently read that innovation starts with creativity, but it does not; innovation starts with receptivity, the ability to perceive. Then creativity kicks in.)

The simple features of teaching in the Digital Natives age are: fast-paced, bite-sized, parallel, randomised, multi-media chunks.  An interesting question, though, is to which extent this is new. Every presenter in the past 20 years I have been in business has been told to make their presentations fast-paced, bite-sized, multi-media. Besides “randomised”, the real novelty may simply be that today’s Digital Natives have enough learning alternatives that they can decide to ignore – rather than suffer – boring presenters.

Despite fond childhood memories of programming my Dad’s Apple II, I was not educated in the internet age, which makes me more of a Digital Immigrant than a Digital Native, I suppose. But I feel the new learning language infusing in my bones: I now find myself equally attracted to tag clouds than to tables of content, and I do not feel I’m wasting time randomly following hyperlinks. Or more to the point: I feel I can trust my brain’s capability to find its way through a seemingly random navigation.

What was your experience reading this blog?

Marc Presnky’s article Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants can be downloaded here.

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