Marc Prensky

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Marc Prensky (born March 15, 1946 in New York City) is an American writer and speaker on learning and education. He is best known as the inventor and popularizer of the terms "Digital native" and "digital immigrant"[1] which he described in a 2001 article in "On the Horizon".[2]

Prensky holds degrees from Oberlin College (1966), Yale University (1968) and the Harvard Business School (1980). He is the author of Digital Game-Based Learning (McGraw-Hill 2001), Don't Bother Me Mom – I'm Learning (Paragon House 2006), Teaching Digital Natives (Corwin Press 2010), From Digital Natives to Digital Wisdom: Hopeful Essays for 21st Century Learning (2012), BRAIN GAIN: Technology and the Quest for Digital Wisdom (2012), and over 60 essays on learning and education. Prensky is also a designer of learning games, and a well-known expert in the use of games in education.

Prensky began his career as a teacher in Harlem, New York, and has taught at all levels, from elementary to college. Additionally, he spent time on the corporate side as a corporate strategist and product development director with the Boston Consulting Group, as well as, a human resource and technology executive on Wall Street.

Focus and Research[edit]

Prensky's professional focus is on K-12 education reform, particularly by helping teachers change their pedagogy in ways that are more effective for 21st century students and by advocating for a change to a passion led, problem-solving-methodology-based curriculum. He has advocated for the students in the educational process, and has initiated educator-student dialogs about the teaching process around the world.

Prensky offers a different perspective on the learning process, based on the premise that the children of today are experiencing life and education very differently from generations past. He states that he hopes to motivate children through their passion for technology through games, internet, and cell phones. He believes that through technology we can reach out to children and help them to enjoy learning.

He has been named a "guiding star of the new parenting movement" by Parental Intelligence Newsletter.[3]


Some writers have dismissed Prensky's views as simplistic, arguing that his terminology is open to challenge and that his claim that educators should simply alter their approach to suit young people who are 'digital natives' ignores essential elements of the nature of learning and good pedagogy. These writers argue that the teacher's role is not only to do what learners want, but also to monitor, correct and – most importantly – to challenge them as well, in which light Prensky's views on pedagogy are arguably too one-dimensional (see e.g. Bax 2011[4]).

Others have challenged whether the designation of the 'digital native' has any real-world usefulness.[5] Prensky currently believes that it is time to move past the decade old metaphor of "digital natives" and "digital immigrants" and to strive for a new goal: Digital Wisdom. (See Prensky’s latest books: 'From Digital Natives to Digital Wisdom', and 'Brain Gain: Technology and the Quest for Digital Wisdom.')

Regarding what is “simplistic” and “good pedagogy” Prensky argues that the fields of education and pedagogy have today become needlessly and painfully over-complicated, ignoring our students’ (and our world’s) real needs, and that it is time to reassess what good and effective teaching means in a digital age and how to combine what is important from the past with the tools of the future. Prensky argues that despite recent influxes of technology into schools, not enough attention is being paid to the full implications of all the important recent changes in our educational environment and context.[6]


Marc Prenskys' books aim to challenge teachers and parents to develop a new, creative way to educate children.

  • Digital Game-Based Learning
  • Don't Bother Me Mom—I'm Learning
  • Teaching Digital Natives—Partnering for Real Learning
  • From Digital Natives to Digital Wisdom: Hopeful Essays for 21st Century Learning
  • BRAIN GAIN: Technology and the Quest for Digital Wisdom

Volumes Edited[edit]

  • Games and Simulation in Online Learning (with Gibson)


  1. ^ Michaels, Leonard (June 22, 2010). The Essays of Leonard Michaels. Macmillan. pp. 27–28. ISBN 978-0-374-53226-0. Retrieved April 30, 2011. Marc Prensky wrote a seminal article on the key differences between those folks who learned the Internet and all its facets as adults (Digital Immigrants) and those who grew up immersed in it and ... 
  2. ^,%20Digital%20Immigrants%20-%20Part1.pdf
  3. ^ Collier, Bob (August 2009). How I Parent (PDF). Parental Intelligence NEWSLETTER. pp. 1–34. Retrieved July 7, 2011. [marc Prensky is a] guiding star of the new parenting movement… 
  4. ^ Bax, S. 'Digital Education: beyond the wow factor' in Digital Education: Opportunities for Social Collaboration. Ed. Michael Thomas. Palgrave Macmillan, 2011. 
  5. ^ "'Technology and society: Is it really helpful to talk about a new generation of "digital natives" who have grown up with the internet?'". The Economist. March 4, 2010. Retrieved April 22, 2012. 
  6. ^ See, e.g., Teaching the Right Stuff–Not Yesterday’s Stuff or Today’s, but Tomorrow’s (In Educational Technology, MayJune 2012) and Before Bringing in New Tools, You Must First Bring in New Thinking (Coming in Amplify, June 2012)

External links[edit]