Sunday, January 20, 2013

M. Wesch and the Future of Education

I found Michael Wesch's video on the state of education to be very interesting. I am attending one of the top public universities in the country, and despite that I think the current educational system is flawed, for many reasons similar to Wesch's. It's not that U of M doesn't do a good job of teaching me things, because it does. But I feel like there is a more effective way that hasn't been widely implemented yet.

I recognize that things are slow to change (this video was made like five years ago!) but I do feel that change is taking place. Every semester, professors seem more willing to incorporate images and videos and audio clips pulled from the Internet in their lectures. Students are being encouraged more and more to bring a laptop or tablet to class. Some classes even rely on the Internet as part of the lecture: one of my Sociology classes incorporated Lecture Tools, where students take notes online and can interact with the presentation material given by the professor.

There are still some holdouts; yes, some professors do not allow any technology in their classrooms, usually out of concern that students will lose focus and be multi-tasking during lecture, which is a legitimate concern. I'm curious to know just how much focus is lost, though. As a generation, and as is mentioned in the video, we are rapidly getting better and multi-tasking. Is it possible that a student could be absorbing the material while also being on Facebook? Maybe not, but it's an interesting question.

"What? I'm live-tweeting the lecture to my friend 'cause she's sick!"
Photo by Raffi Asdourian.

Either way, it cannot be denied that technology and the Internet have provided new interesting ways of learning and it's a type of learning that my generation is familiar with. When there is something that we don't know or something we'd like to learn more about, gaining access to that knowledge is as simple as going to Google or Wikipedia. We are online all the time, and we are constantly absorbing, and yes a lot of times it may be trivial things like pictures of cats with a Hitler moustache, but the potential is there to be taken advantage of. It's just a question of how to implement it effectively.

I like the idea of this Digital Storytelling class, and I think it could be applied to other classes as well. Couldn't an English class follow each other on Twitter for up-to-the-moment thoughts and analysis about readings or suggestions about what to read? Anthropology students could share ethnographic studies on YouTube for other students to view. I believe that learning is best accomplished when collaboration is encouraged, and one student's ideas inspire another student, who then might share his thoughts on his blog that inspires countless others.

The old way of learning may be just fine, but there is so much untapped potential that isn't being explored.

1 comment:

  1. Interesting post. I think a lot of teachers are doing stuff like this (in my professional writing classes, we spend a 3-5 weeks blogging) in other classes. And this model is more useful in certain classes than in others. Is live-tweeting about Proust more useful than talking about it, working through ideas, taking our time to say things that aren't just jokes or soundbites? It seems to me that the internet doesn't make teaching or learning everything easier (oil painting, for example).

    I'm not disagreeing with, not in any sense, but I think it's easy to get swept up in a kind of utopian sense of what a web 2.0 classroom should, or must, look like.