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Posts Tagged ‘descriptive

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If I were facilitating a course that had elements of designing theoretical models or frameworks, one reference would surely be Steve Wheeler’s critique of the digital native vs immigrant divide (I agree with Wheeler, BTW 1 2 3). But not for the more obvious reasons.

One of the more obvious reasons is how Prensky conceptualized and presented his original argument on the divide and then how it was torn to shreds.

No, I would take a step back and emphasize how Prensky probably thought of his ideas as being descriptive but how policymakers and practitioners looked in between the lines to make the ideas prescriptive.

For example, Prensky cited research about how “native” brains almost seemed prewired (or became wired) to take advantage of current media tools. He made an argument and described what he thought to be true.

That would have been fine (and subject to debate) if he or others did not try to make his model prescriptive by perhaps suggesting that teachers throw tools and resources at their learners based on the assumption that the latter would know how to use them. They don’t.

Our kids don’t necessarily have the wisdom to analyze, evaluate or simply know the difference. That is why Prensky moved on to promoting digital wisdom.

As a descriptive model, the native-immigrant idea was flawed to begin with. As a prescriptive model it does more harm than good.

A colleague of mine, Sally, shared this link via Facebook. It about a group text messaging service called Yobongo.


Video service

The author of that blog entry reflected on how the tool might be appropriated for good or bad use. I concur.

My take is not new. Technologies like Yobongo are pushing social, ethical, political, legal and other boundaries. Often the utility of the tool is based on relatively simple technical affordances. In Yobongo’s case, it is being able to text message everyone in a particular location.

But what you do socially with such a messaging system is another matter. Do you use it to send out timely reminders or do you use it to spread hateful rumours? Do you use it to share a useful resource or to coordinate an attack? Those are the tools social affordances, some of which you anticipate or design for while others are emergent.

An educator needs to not only consider the technical and social affordances of an e-tool but also the pedagogical ones. How do I teach better with it? How do my students learn better with it? For example, a tool like Yobongo could be used to brainstorm or backchannel in a manner that learners intuitively take to.

A framework of educational technology affordances is both descriptive and prescriptive. It might be used descriptively to evaluate a tool (this might be what it is good for). It might also be used prescriptively to integrate the tool into a learning activity (this is how we will leverage on affordance X to make Y happen).


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