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Notes on watching Michael Wesch’s “Portal to Media Literacy” 7/10/08

January 31, 2010

The video is here.

Michael Wesch, an ANTH prof at Kansas Stat U, is the creator, with his students, of The Machine is Us/ing Us and A Vision of Students Today.

Students say they like learning, but they don’t like school. (Not a surprise.) They don’t think what they are learning is relevant to their lives. (Might they be wrong?)

Some nice quotes:
“Being human is all about learning–it’s the hallmark of humanity.”
“The room is designed as an information dump.”
“Questions are the catalyst for great learning.”
(the crisis of significance) We need to make meaningful connections to create significance. HOW? 2 types:
1. Semantic: meaning is how something relates/connects/contrasts
2. Personal: meaning is in how we relate/connect/contrast with others (Cooley: the looking-glass self). (Students learn from those they care about and who care about them)
3. These are inseparable and interdependent

FIND A GRAND NARRATIVE THAT CREATES A BIG PICTURE.
CREATE A LEARNING ENVIRONMENT THAT VALUES THE LEARNERS (Unleash the creativity of students.)
REALIZE/LEVERAGE THE EXISTING MEDIA ENVIRONMENT. PUSH STUDENTS BEYOND YOUTUBE AND FACEBOOK TO USE THE MEDIA FOR LEARNING, NOT JUST ENTERTAINMENT.

There are no digital natives! These tools are too new. Students don’t know how to use them to create something interesting and new. We are all equally stupid! We can’t assume our students are media-literate; they need help.

“We look at the present through a rear-view mirror as we march backward into the future.” (McLuhan)

With the internet, information is no longer scarce. (cf. Marshall McLuhan) But less than .01% of it is on paper (“a thing”). And it is no longer as hard to find due to tagging and folksonomies. Tagging lets you put the same information in lots of different folders. RSS gets information to find us, rather than the other way around.

Files and folders may not be the best way to organize information anymore…. Putting websites into categories is limiting. We are still “unpacking the power of the hyperlink.” (info can be in more than one place at one time)

Collective intelligence (Nobody is as smart as everybody)–challenges the idea of authority.

Authorized information is beyond discussion: find out about the discussion behind the scenes as Wikipedia (tell your students this! Try this out yourself!)

http://netvibes.com/wesch is Wesch’s class portal (to check out later–he describes how he uses it in the middle of the video)

Class models (for large classes):
Network model = participation (goal) Networks grow exponentially.
hieracrchy model = authority (doesn’t work for classes)
mass model = follow (bad message)

He describes a “game” he and his anthropology students created: imaginary cultures in the world of 1450, and the ensuing history of colonization and independence, &c. Everything gets uploaded to the wiki.

Conclusion: it’s an upload world. Students need to learn to create. Move students from being knowledgeable to being knowledge-able. (Cf this article by Wesch, which says much the same thing as the video) Quote from the article: “one simple technique, which makes everything else fall into place: love and respect your students and they will love and respect you back.” But these new pedagogies raise new issues of how to assess what students are “learning”.

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