The connected world of Michael Wesch (and his students)
Many of you have undoubtedly heard of Dr. Michael Wesch by now. His Web 2.0 YouTube videos have been viewed millions of times. His work is rapidly breaking the traditional education mold of how today's students learn (or don't learn as the case may be). He has embraced many of the emerging social networking tools and has taken a critical look at the brief history of YouTube. A cultural anthropologist by training, Wesch is applying this to how students learn in this new digital media age and what it means for the future of education. Recently, Wesch posted another stellar video of a presentation titled A Portal to Media Literacy he gave at the University of Manitoba on June 17, 2008. The YouTube video is just over an hour long but well worth watching in its entirety... I think the ideas, techniques and tools Wesch presents in this talk deserve active discussion and experimentation in the educational community. With higher education at a crossroads in terms of how digital media is changing and challenging educational institutions it is important that educators understand not only the technologies causing these changes, but how students and can utilize these developments and fold them into true learning tools and experiences rather than mere entertainment. Wesch points out that there are no natives to these technologies. Old and young alike are being exposed to these very new and rapidly changing social technologies. Due to this, both groups are learning how to use these technologies at the same time and each can offer the other group something from their collective knowledge. Teachers should not assume that their students are complete experts with these tools. I would urge you to look at all of Wesch's videos on YouTube. They all offer unique insights into the current issues at hand with higher education and technology. AND Wesch gives a nod to NMC's Horizon Report in particular as a good source for seeing what is coming down the road.
Michael Wesch's Netvibes website is mentioned in the talk and demonstrates some of the information aggregation aspects he discusses. It can be viewed here.
Wesch's Digital Ethnography Working Group blog at Kansas State University (where he teaches) can be found here.
Keene Haywood (University of Texas@Austin - DIIA)