Digital Ethnography

“A Vision of Students Today” Transcript

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“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 these walls could talk …

What would they say?

If students learn what they do …

What are they learning sitting here?

The information is up here.

Follow along.


Of course, walls and desks cannot talk.

But students can.

Open Google Document: A Vision of Students Today.

What is it like being a student today?

Add Collaborators.

Collaborators (200).

200 Students made 367 edits to this document,

and surveyed themselves,

to bring you the following message:

My average class size is 115.

18% of my teachers

know my name

I complete 49% of the readings assigned to me.

Only 26% … relative to my life

I buy hundred dollar textbooks that I never open.

My neighbor paid for class but never comes.

I will read 8 books this year

2300 web pages

and 1281 facebook profiles

I will write 42 pages for class this semester

And over 500 pages of email

I get 7 hours of sleep each night

I spend 1 ½ hours watching TV each night.

I spend 3 ½ hours a day online

I listen to music 2.5 hours a day

I spend 2 hours on my cellphone

3 hours in class

2 hours eating

I work 3 hours every day

3 hours studying

That’s a total of 26.5 hours.

I’m a multitasker.

I have to be.

I will be over 20,000 in debt after graduation.

I’m one of the lucky ones.

Over 1 billion people

Make less than one dollar a day

This laptop costs more than some people in the world make in a year.

When I graduate I will probably have a job

That doesn’t exist today

(showing scantron)

Filling this out won’t help me get there.

Or deal with …

war, inequality, ethnic conflict, pollution, (and many more)

I did not create the problems

But they are my problems

Some have suggested that technology (alone) can save us …

I facebook through most of my classes.

I bring my laptop to class but I’m not working on class stuff.

“The inventor of the system deserves to be ranked among the best contributors to learning and science, if not the greatest benefactors of mankind.”

- Josiah F. Bumstead


… on the benefits of the chalkboard.

Writing on a chalkboard …

to be continued …


  1. Tara

    November 11, 2009

    I really loved how this video was created, i thought it was very unique which made it interesting for me to watch. Overall in the beginning of the video it seemed to me like something that was made for older parents and teachers teaching them about what it was like to be a student in today’s world, however towards the end it changed drastically to much more serious problems and this is what got me lost. I didn’t really understand the final message although i do realize it is about how technology is effecting us today. And I definitaly think that what they found was true, i know people who don’t go to class and who facebook during lectures and its daunting to realize that we do read more facebook profiles and emails than we do actual books. so overall i thought it was really interestingly made, true at most parts, but the end just confused me.

  2. Stephanie

    November 12, 2009

    Overall, I liked the video especially because of the “statistics” the students wrote on the looseleaf papers. I related to probably 50% of them. The buying textbooks that you do not open really struck a chord with me because I spent over $900 in books because I thought that was what I was required to do to be successful, but I don’t use half of them. Everytime I think about it, it kills me because It is a lot of money that I don’t have. Additionally, I liked the focus on the chalkboard at the end of the video because I have one professor that actually uses an “old school” chalkboard and I enjoy listening to his lectures the best. I think it is more wholesome and I still learn the same.

  3. Stephanie

    November 12, 2009

    Overall, I liked the video because I related to about 50% of the “statistics” the students admitted on the looseleaf papers. Especially the one about the textbooks bought and never used. I spent over $900 on textbooks (half of them I do not need to be successful in the classes) because I thought I was doing the right thing. It kills me to think of all that money my mom and I that needs to be paid back! I also liked the end focus on the chalkboard. I like chalkboards in classrooms. They get the job done because I still learn the same amount.

  4. Katie

    November 12, 2009

    In one word, this video is real. All of the information was true to students today and easy to relate to. Unfortunately, this leads the viewer to believed that one day, probably soon, chlakboards will become obsolete. I think physical teaching versus virtual teaching is far better for the develpment of the student in the long run. However, in the future technology will overtake even more aspects of life. Although most people could not part with their cell phones, computers, or ipods, some of these technologies have eliminated interpersonal relations. This video accurately depicts this and opens the viewers eyes to the world we live in.

  5. Michael Manning

    November 12, 2009

    I enjoyed the video because most people are unaware of what the modern student faces. Every year tution goes up, book prices going up, it eventually will spiral out of control. But the video made one think how miniscule all that is compared to the real problems of life. Gave me hope knowing mabey if I get through college after being blessed, I could help those who are not

  6. Nina

    November 12, 2009

    I think the video conveyed its point quite clearly and accurately. Sitting in class, I see people on their computers doing anything but what is required of the class. I feel like we spend so much money on college, but a lot of the time we don’t get the full education because of other distractions. The video accurate stated the problems that students are facing today.

  7. Trish

    November 12, 2009

    I really liked the video that was created. It was very truthful and i liked how they presented the statistics and the information. This vidoe hits home with almost every college student, including myself. It is crazy to think about all those facts, like the wages under (or at) a dollar or and the chalk board. If people did not know these statistics then the video opened their eyes but if they did know then this video allows them to feel they are not alone in the world, there are other poeple who have the same issues and that one day somethings will have to change, for better and worse.

  8. Jen

    November 13, 2009

    i liked the video but i was unclear of what the overall message was.

  9. James

    November 13, 2009

    This video is amazing. I wonder though how many students have read a portion of these blog entries? I read through some and find the comments fascinating. To me this video demonstrates what is wrong with our educational system. Not technology. The fact is that technology has changed us as a society. We learn differently now, and the traditional educational institution has not. I believe students crave interaction and that learning is not one-way where the instructor imparts wisdom to the student. Instead, I believe students can also impart wisdom to the instructor. But truly what is amazing about technology is the ability to have both instructor and student work and engage in a way that elevates education/learning to a new level. I think that is what this video, in part anyways, is trying to communicate. That learning has simply been reduced to regurgitating information. However, it is changing. It is a process, but it is changing.

  10. christine

    November 13, 2009

    i really liked how the video was put together and the beginning drew my attention with the claims written on the desks and walls. i was confused with the exact message of the video though. i understand that it is attacking today’s technology but there was a lot of facts about people not wanting to go to class and how they are wasting money and also time by not wanting to do the scantron tests. i would have liked to seen more claims as to how it is ruining our education. however i think it was well put together and creative how students would randomly raise their hand with their thoughts to it. the topic was also an original choice and definitely made the mark that today’s society is different than previous generations through technology and education.

  11. Lauren

    November 13, 2009

    The main goal of the video seemed to be shock value. Because I feel that most people are already aware of the rise in technology disractions for students and all people, this video was primarily made only to see the reactions of others. Though that goal was obviously met, creating a video for only that purpose seems less impactful. I think the video could have done a better job of portraying the issue by offering suggestions to move away from a technology-dependent society.

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