Oct 14

VIDEO: A Vision of Students Today

Came across this great video today made by Dr. Michael Wesch (Associate Professor of Cultural Anthropology) at Kansas State University.  Dr. Wesch studies how technology and social media affects students, society, and culture.

I love the quote the video starts with:

“Today’s child is bewildered when he enters the 19th century environment that still characterizes the educational establishment where information is scarce but ordered and structured by fragmented, classified patterns subjects, and schedules.” -Marshall McLuhan, 1967.

It really makes you think: has much changed since the 19th century? Our immediate reaction is likely “YES, DEFINITELY!” But I wonder. The big issue is that as people find something that works, they are more likely to keep doing it, and less likely to try other things. This is exactly the attitude I run in to, even in my self, when I try to use technology in the classroom.

The video goes on to say “If students learn what they do, what are they learning sitting here?” referring to the chairs in a lecture hall. There is a great old Chinese proverb that I have at the beginning of my teaching philosophy:

“Tell me and I’ll forget; show me and I may remember; involve me and I’ll understand”.

I see this all the time in my classroom. Students who just sit there listening to me, understanding what I’m saying, but they forget. If I show them enough examples, maybe they’ll remember, but there is no way they will be able to apply what they have learned until they do it on their own, until they struggle with it, until they change the way they think to adapt to what they have learned.

The video goes on to describe the teacher making a Google Docs document entitled “A Vision of Students Today”, starting with the question “What is it like being a student today?” and getting the entire class to work as collaborators on it. This is a MARVELOUS way to get collaboration with the students (as the video does an amazing job of showing).

Ways I could use a massive collaborative document in class

  • Create an online textbook, getting students to explain content in their own words. (What is the difference between a massively collaborative Google Doc and a Wiki?)
  • Create a place for students to enter questions they are struggling with, where I and other students could come in and write the solutions to them.

That second one is an interesting idea…lets give it a try…there we go, 256 collaborators.  We shall see what happens. :)

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