Professional Development Idea

I recently suggested the following idea for our April, 2008 Professional Development Day. The terms “digital natives” and “digital immigrants” come from the writings of Marc Prensky who, among other things, writes and speaks about the benefits of learning via digital games.

Dear Faculty,

Hi! You may be pleased to know that our Faculty Professional Development Day is slated for Thursday, April 24, 2008. Last Spring I suggested the topic Digital Natives, Diverse Learners as a possible way to spend that day.

I am willing to bet that most of us are Digital Immigrants when it comes to our fluency with digital technology, except – perhaps – for any faculty who are in their twenties. The rest of us did not grow up with digital tech being pervasive in our lives, and so we are relative immigrants within that world.

Our students, however, are growing up immersed in this world; they are the Digital Natives, where communication and exploration via digital devices rules their world as much as socializing in person. Many of our students, seven year olds and up, segue effortlessly between the two forms.

My idea is for upper school students to each present different applications during the course of the morning. They, the digital natives, will seek to inform and enlighten us, the digital immigrants, about how these different applications impact their lives – how and why they use them, what they gain by using them. They would share a little of “their space” with the rest of us, in an effort for us to gain a better understanding of the applications and how these tools impact our students, the kids we see in our classrooms day in and day out. Essentially, our kids are increasingly learning – in diverse ways that work for them – in digital environments of which we adults are only marginally aware. (A list of applications is at the very end of this message.)

Lunch and the afternoon would be spent in small groups, with a student joining each group to talk about the morning, and what impact this can have on the teaching and learning process. Using a wiki, each group would post their thoughts and reflections so that the conversations can be shared. The day would conclude with a full group meeting.

A full day would be best for this activity, and there are related activities that would take place during the year as we prepare for the day.

In any case, I am one of about 139 other faculty. To make Professional Development Day truly useful to you, we need your feedback. If we go with this activity, a small committee will work on carrying out the plan, but there are probably other suggestions as to what would make that day most useful to you.

So, please think about your professional development. If this idea interests you or you have other ideas for professional development day, please email Corinne before Thanksgiving so that the planning process can get rolling.


• gaming
• social networking sites (FaceBook, MySpace…)
Second Life
• social networking sites for younger students (Club Penguin, Webkinz…)
• blogging
GarageBand, music
YouTube, Google Video
• podcasting
• digital video
• Photo Sharing Sites (Flickr, shutterfly…)
• digital art sites (deviantArt…)
• online homework helpers


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