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TIES 2013: Marc Prensky Practical Future-Cation

At his opening keynote this morning, Marc Prensky gave a 50,000 foot view of Future-Cation, a phrase he has coined to talk about what we should be teaching.
The keynote did not have a lot of meat, and he promised more detail in the afternoon, so I decided to check it out.

Future-cation is not just "adding technology."
If you are writing w/ technology and only write, that i

Future-Cation is a state of mind. Thinking about the future in everything you do.
Seeing things in new ways.

A dozen things it means practically:

  • No Best Practices-A lot of people running around to see what's going on in Finland. By the time you get back, you are further behind. Invent new ones instead! Change what we do, every time we do it!
  • Seeing Preparing Kids for the Future as YOUR Job!-It's easy to ask, "Tell me what to do?!" Ask your students! Assign one of your students as a tech advisor for each unit.
  • Viewing tech not as the enemy, add-on, hindrance or something optional but as the foundation of what you do.
  • Don't let your own biases get in the way! "What if the power goes out?" What happens when the car breaks down?! We don't need to back up every single thing! It's like keeping a horse in the garage in case the car breaks down.
  • You need to Future-cate every day in every lesson. Part of your brain needs to be focused on the future! How can you relate the past to something that might happen?
  • Individualize by using technology to personalize. The way you personalize is around people's passions, not on ways to all learn the same thing? What does fractions mean if you love gymnastics, football, cooking, dance, etc. If the only answer is "because it's on the test," you're not future-cating.
  • Skyping and Tweeting around the world
  • Use Data Bases and Computational Engines-Wolfram Alpha-Allows you to ask questions of the data bases. 
  • 3D printing-It's become a mainstream manufacturing technique, plus it's become a cornerstone of the Maker Movement.
  • Simulations We can look at things like the "London Tube," to see how best to drive it.
  • Virtual Worlds-If you are going to be a future-cator, every meeting you have should include people from outside the classroom.
  • Complex Games
  • Robotics
  • Understanding and fully exploiting the network's power.
  • Even when teaching about the past, provide a future connection. What does this 
  • Retain ONLY what is truly necessary and useful (As a former math teacher, he noted that Algebra is really a proxy for symbolic and logical thinking skills. It's not for everybody.)
  • Give your students a positive view of the future!
Is asking Siri for an answer cheating? 
So many things we see about the future are distopian. Prensky believes that that while that may be the view of Hollywood, the reality is that "THINGS GET BETTER!"

We can't just do the same old things better. We have to do better things!

Logical Thinking
Past-ucation-Just teach geometry
Future-cation-Also teach programming

Past-ucation: Teach only persuasive writing.
Future-cation: Also teach persuasive video making.

Past-ucation: Teaching only group work in class
Future-cation: Also teaching online collaboration in virtual communities

How much of what you do is Past-Ucation?

What should we teach in the 21st Century?

Today, ANY content can be learned with technology.
Technology does not teach:
  • Motivation
  • Respect
  • Empathy
  • Passion
From the very beginning, we need to train students to be self-sufficient learners with the guidance of a teacher. They need to be nodes on the network.

Today, students use YouTube, MOOCs (Not good now, but will get better).

Education will be less about courses and more about 

Today, technology is foundational to students.

Verbs vs. Nouns

PowerPoint, Email, Wikipedia
These change to HTML5, Twitter, YouTube,etc.

Presenting, Communicating, Learning 
Stay the same

As a teacher, you have to remember the key verbs! Only after you understand the verbs, then look for the best noun to do the job.

You need to be ready and flexible enough to move to new nouns as they appear.
This is similar to Molly Schroeder's "Date the Tool, Marry the Skill"

Teach and Assign only Verbs!!

What should we teach? How do we give kids the education that they need?

Prensky believes that we should prepare students for jobs in the future, and teach them the basic skills to make them employable, though most job skills are best learned on the job.

The Uplift Curriculum: The New Basics

  • Effective Thinking
  • Effective Actions
  • Effective Relationships
  • Effective Problem Solving

These should be the core classes, and then students should follow passions in post secondary. We want students to think logically, but not all have to learn it by taking geometry!

Unfortunately, the details of this curriculum are not being taught today.
Prensky asked whether we teach Past-ucation or Future-Cation in our districts.

An audience member asked if everyone will go to college? Prensky noted that parents aren't that interested in paying $50,000 a year so their child can drink! He believes that yes, there will still be a need, but that the amount may change based on the career.

Solve the access problem by being a "digital multiplier!" Get the students to share!!

Prensky believes that more partnerships will be developed between higher ed and businesses to support one another. 
Shop and Art teachers have been teaching how to make for a long time! We need to listen to them and focus on their techniques rather than math!

He hopes that we at least move beyond thinking that education is a math or english test score.


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