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I hate school and so do you

“Revisiting “A Vision of Students Today”” was a refreshing and inspiring read. I have been saying over and over again how stimulating it is to be blogging, participating in discussion threads, and collaborating with my fellow students and people all over the world who share my interests. And Prof. Wesch truly gets it.

His post re-examines a video he produced in 2007, which reveals 200 university students’ thoughts on their education. The video was viewed over one million times in its first month on YouTube and was the most blogged about video in the blogosphere for several weeks. The video challenges the roles and responsibilities of teachers, students, and technology in the classroom.

Professor Wesch suggests that technology is (in one way or another) disengaging students in the classroom. He originally says the problem is “written on the walls”. Later he says the real problem facing education is “built into the walls”.
For example your typical university classroom is a massive space with chairs for students and a stand for the professor to present information for students to absorb. He refers to it as  “a state of the art information dump” where students come to play the “getting by game”. Students are no longer concerned with learning information they feel is irrelevant to their life. If the information being thrown in their direction is of no interest to them, they will simply pay no attention to it. Instead they turn to their iPod, Facebook, and text messaging their friends. Students are “getting by” without paying any attention in their classes. Wesch says many Professors and students alike love learning, but hate school.

“Most blamed technology, though for very different reasons. Some simply suggested that new technologies are too distracting and superficial and that they should be banned from the classroom. Others suggested that students are now “wired” differently. Created in the image of these technologies, luddites imagine students to be distracted and superficial while techno-optimists see a new generation of hyper-thinkers bored with old school ways.”

Thinking about this in relation to my own life, confirms that technology is not so much a distraction for me, but a way to find relevant information and a way for information to find me. I think this class is the perfect example of what Wesch says is the solution. Combining technology and collaboration in the classroom is one way to keep students engaged and meet the demands of “hyper-thinkers”. Imagine if for three hours we sat and listened to our Prof. talk about social media but never actually got to spend the time online, engaging in the social world, learning at our very fingertips. I know for sure, I wouldn’t take as much away from this class if that were the case.  Smaller class sizes that are conducive to discussions, round tables designed so students see each others faces, and professors at eye level – eliminating the classroom hierarchy are all ways to help keep students engaged and inspired to learn.


May 27, 2009 - Posted by | Review of Monitored Site

1 Comment »

  1. Interesting read and video, Kim.

    As I’m writing this comment in the back of my mind I’m thinking about all the other work I have to do for school this term. Some classes I’m taking because they’re in the field I love and others I’m taking because of university regulations and requirements for my degree. For the courses I don’t really care about but am forced to take I really am just “trying to get by.” Don’t get me wrong I really do love to learn, but when a course is pushed on you I kind of get my back up and lose interest before the class even starts.

    The disheartening thing about university required courses outside of your discipline is that sometimes they take away from the learning that goes on in the courses you may genuinely care about and will use in the future. For example, I MUST pass microeconomics to get my BPR. In order to do this I must devote a great deal of time to studying for examinations because this type of subject is not one that comes naturally to me. I feel like the extra time I spend trying to “get by” in economics means I end up also just “getting by” in the courses I like because I don’t have very much time to devote to them.

    So because of this, I guess I would have to disagree with Wesch’s idea that technologies are the reason students are just getting by. I feel like it’s more the university structure itself that puts students in this position. As the video points out, students have more hours of things to do in the run of a day (26.5 hours) than there are hours in the day. Forcing irrelevant classes on students so that they just have the bare minimum knowledge on a subject that they’ll only regurgitate for a final exam and then quickly forget is not creating they type of well-rounded individual I think university’s are hoping for. Technology isn’t the reason for this problem; it’s the institution itself.

    I agree with what you say, though, Kim. Technology is less a distraction and more of a helpful tool to me, as well. As the world becomes more and more technologically advanced and we rely more and more on such technologies it is increasingly important to embrace them in the classroom as opposed to making them the enemy.

    I’ll get off my soapbox now.

    Comment by traceyboland | May 31, 2009 | Reply

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