Vision of students – video reply

The Chronicle of Higher Education reports that Michael Wesch’s video on the state of student learning in Web2.0 America has been augmented by a remix that adds the racial dimension. Michael responds that they considered including racial statistics to the original but felt it was too emotional of an issue and would “draw attention away from some of the other points we were trying to make” … such as technology, boredom, and learning in an environment where only 18% of the profs know your name and Facebook is more compelling than the instructor. I’ve included both videos for your enjoyment.

What I find most interesting is the way in which video is increasingly becoming the medium of communication. Yes, it does have the ability to transmit serious ideas, just as your car can be used to bring home the groceries…. at least once in a while. 🙂

The remix:

The original in case you haven’t seen it:

And here’s a link to a better version of the original in case you want to use it in class:

WMV   Quicktime

One idea that is intended to be prominent because of its placement at the beginning and the end, but is actually not well developed, is the idea that the chalk board was a major technological development in 1841 but is still in heavy use today. Hmmm…. not unlike cave walls, huh? Still relevant after all those years…. because it’s low-tech, convenient, and strips away everything but the presenter and his content.

So what is Wesch and his class saying? That classrooms need to use more video or web technology to better communicate with our rich, distracted students? Based on the MacLuhan quote at the beginning, it would seem that’s the point.

Having sat in an auditorium full of 3000 people who stop breathing in order to hang on every word and gesture of Hal Holbrook as Mark Twain Tonight, I would say the problem is not technology. It may be the quality of the instructor, and it may be the listening skills and inner motivation of the students.

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Maybe McLuhan was right

During the 90s my brand positioning statement was “The Medium is NOT the Message” — directly contradicting Marshall McLuhan’s famous apocalyptic remark about where we were headed.

My point, then and now, was that the message is what’s important. Content trumps conveyances.

Here’s a video by Mike Wesch, a cultural anthropology prof at KSU that perhaps you’ve already seen… over 5 million folks have watched it on YouTube but it was new to me until Ken Christie called it to my attention through his blog.

Web 2.0: The Machine is Us/ing Us (final version)

This articulates as well as anything I’ve seen what Neil Postman warned us all about, and McLuhan before him: each medium carries with it a powerful bias as to the kind of information (or noise) that it disseminates. Each medium has a strength, and a corresponding weakness, just as sight and sound, taste, smell and touch each have their own unique strength. Web 2.0 is so hard to define because it carries within it the ability synthesize all of the media, resulting in either crystallinity or mush. And as usual, the way each is used, and perceived, depends on both the sender and the receiver.

Perhaps Web 2.0’s greatest impact comes from the degree to which this mega-medium puts most of that power, not in the hands of the sender, but the receiver. More than ever before in history, beauty (and truth) are indeed in the eye of the beholder.