Revisiting “A Vision of Students Today”

(originally published on Britannica Blog)

In spring 2007 I invited the 200 students enrolled in the “small” version of my “Introduction to Cultural Anthropology” class to tell the world what they think of their education by helping me write a script for a video to be posted on YouTube. The result was the disheartening portrayal of disengagement you see below. The video was viewed over one million times in its first month and was the most blogged about video in the blogosphere for several weeks, eliciting thousands of comments. With rare exception, educators around the world expressed the sad sense of profound identification with the scene, sparking a wide-ranging debate about the roles and responsibilities of teachers, students, and technology in the classroom.

Despite my role in the production of the video, and the thousands of comments supporting it, I recently came to view the video with a sense of uneasiness and even incredulity. Surely it can’t be as bad as the video seems to suggest, I thought. I started wrestling with these doubts over the summer as I fondly recalled the powerful learning experiences I had shared with my students the previous year. By the end of the summer I had become convinced that the video was over the top, that things were really not so bad, that the system is not as broken as I thought, and we should all just stop worrying and get on with our teaching.But when I walked into my classroom for the first day of school two weeks ago I was immediately reminded of the real problem now facing education. The problem is not just “written on the walls.” It’s built into them.

I arrived early, finding 493 empty numbered chairs sitting mindlessly fixated on the front of the room. A 600 square foot screen stared back at them. Hundreds of students would soon fill the chairs, but the carefully designed sound-absorbing walls and ceiling, along with state of the art embedded speakers, ensured that there would only be one person in this room to be heard. That person would be me, pacing around somewhere near stage-left, ducking intermittently behind a small podium housing a computer with a wireless gyromouse that will grant me control of some 786,432 points of light on that massive screen.

The room is nothing less than a state of the art information dump, a physical manifestation of the all too pervasive yet narrow and naïve assumption that to learn is simply to acquire information, built for teachers to effectively carry out the relatively simple task of conveying information. Its sheer size, layout, and technology are testaments to the efficiency and expediency with which we can now provide students with their required credit hours.

My class is popular. We only enroll 400 so there should have been plenty of seats but on the first day all seats were filled and it was standing room only in the back. The room was buzzing with energy as friends reconnected after the long summer.

I started talking and an almost deafening silence greeted my first words. I have always been amazed and intimidated by this silence. It seems to so tenuously await my next words. The silence is immediately filled with the more subtle yet powerful messages sent by 500 sets of eyes which I continuously scan, “listening” to what they have to say as I talk. In an instant those eyes can turn from wonder and excitement to the disheartening glaze of universal and irreversible disengagement. Perpetually dreading this glaze I nervously pace as I talk and use grandiose gestures. At times I feel desperate for their attention. I rush to amuse them with jokes and stories as I swing, twist, and swirl that gyromouse, directing the 786,432 pixels dancing points of light behind me, hoping to dazzle them with a multi-media extravaganza.

Somehow I seem to hold their attention for the full hour. I marvel at what a remarkable achievement it is to bring hundreds of otherwise expressive, exuberant, and often rebellious youths into a single room and have them sit quietly in straight rows while they listen to the authority with the microphone. Such an achievement could not be won by an eager teacher armed with technology alone. It has taken years of acclimatizing our youth to stale artificial environments, piles of propaganda convincing them that what goes on inside these environments is of immense importance, and a steady hand of discipline should they ever start to question it. Alfred North Whitehead called it “soul murder.”

The “getting by” game.

Reports from my teaching assistants sitting in the back of the room tell a different story. Apparently, several students standing in the back cranked up their iPods as I started to lecture and never turned them off, sometimes even breaking out into dance. My lecture could barely be heard nearby as the sound-absorbing panels and state of the art speakers were apparently no match for those blaring iPods. Scanning the room my assistants also saw students cruising Facebook, instant messaging, and texting their friends. The students were undoubtedly engaged, just not with me.

My teaching assistants consoled me by noting that students have learned that they can “get by” without paying attention in their classes. Perhaps feeling a bit encouraged by my look of incredulity, my TA’s continued with a long list of other activities students have learned that they can “get by” without doing. Studying, taking notes, reading the textbook, and coming to class topped the list. It wasn’t the list that impressed me. It was the unquestioned assumption that “getting by” is the name of the game. Our students are so alienated by education that they are trying to sneak right past it.

If you think this little game is unfair to those students who have been duped into playing, consider those who have somehow managed to maintain their inherent desire to learn. One of the most thoughtful and engaged students I have ever met recently confronted a professor about the nuances of some questions on a multiple choice exam. The professor politely explained to the student that he was “overthinking” the questions. What kind of environment is this in which “overthinking” is a problem? Apparently he would have been better off just playing along with the “getting by” game.

Last spring I asked my students how many of them did not like school. Over half of them rose their hands. When I asked how many of them did not like learning, no hands were raised. I have tried this with faculty and get similar results. Last year’s U.S. Professor of the Year, Chris Sorensen, began his acceptance speech by announcing, “I hate school.” The crowd, made up largely of other outstanding faculty, overwhelmingly agreed. And yet he went on to speak with passionate conviction about his love of learning and the desire to spread that love. And there’s the rub. We love learning. We hate school. What’s worse is that many of us hate school because we love learning.

What went wrong?

How did institutions designed for learning become so widely hated by people who love learning?

The video seemed to represent what so many were already feeling, and it became the focal point for many theories. While some simply blamed the problems on the students themselves, others recognized a broader pattern. 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.

But the problems are not new. They are the same as those identified by Neil Postman and Charles Weingartner nearly 40 years ago when they described the plight of “totally alienated students” involved in a cheating scandal (a true art form in the “getting by” game) and asked, “What kind of vicious game is being played here, and who are the sinners and who the sinned against?” (1969:51).

Texting, web-surfing, and iPods are just new versions of passing notes in class, reading novels under the desk, and surreptitiously listening to Walkmans. They are not the problem. They are just the new forms in which we see it. Fortunately, they allow us to see the problem in a new way, and more clearly than ever, if we are willing to pay attention to what they are really saying.

They tell us, first of all, that despite appearances, our classrooms have been fundamentally changed. There is literally something in the air, and it is nothing less than the digital artifacts of over one billion people and computers networked together collectively producing over 2,000 gigabytes of new information per second. While most of our classrooms were built under the assumption that information is scarce and hard to find, nearly the entire body of human knowledge now flows through and around these rooms in one form or another, ready to be accessed by laptops, cellphones, and iPods. Classrooms built to re-enforce the top-down authoritative knowledge of the teacher are now enveloped by a cloud of ubiquitous digital information where knowledge is made, not found, and authority is continuously negotiated through discussion and participation. In short, they tell us that our walls no longer mark the boundaries of our classrooms.

And that’s what has been wrong all along. Some time ago we started taking our walls too seriously – not just the walls of our classrooms, but also the metaphorical walls that we have constructed around our “subjects,” “disciplines,” and “courses.” McLuhan’s statement about the bewildered child confronting “the education establishment where information is scarce but ordered and structured by fragmented, classified patterns, subjects, and schedules” still holds true in most classrooms today. The walls have become so prominent that they are even reflected in our language, so that today there is something called “the real world” which is foreign and set apart from our schools. When somebody asks a question that seems irrelevant to this real world, we say that it is “merely academic.”

Not surprisingly, our students struggle to find meaning and significance inside these walls. They tune out of class, and log on to Facebook.

The solution.

Fortunately, the solution is simple. We don’t have to tear the walls down. We just have to stop pretending that the walls separate us from the world, and begin working with students in the pursuit of answers to real and relevant questions.

When we do that we can stop denying the fact that we are enveloped in a cloud of ubiquitous digital information where the nature and dynamics of knowledge have shifted. We can acknowledge that most of our students have powerful devices on them that give them instant and constant access to this cloud (including almost any answer to almost any multiple choice question you can imagine). We can welcome laptops, cell phones, and iPods into our classrooms, not as distractions, but as powerful learning technologies. We can use them in ways that empower and engage students in real world problems and activities, leveraging the enormous potentials of the digital media environment that now surrounds us. In the process, we allow students to develop much-needed skills in navigating and harnessing this new media environment, including the wisdom to know when to turn it off. When students are engaged in projects that are meaningful and important to them, and that make them feel meaningful and important, they will enthusiastically turn off their cellphones and laptops to grapple with the most difficult texts and take on the most rigorous tasks.

There are many faculty around the world who have enthusiastically embraced the challenge to bring meaning and significance back into the classroom. I hope that they will comment here and enrich us all with their ideas. If you are interested in the specifics of how I attempt to solve the significance problem in the large class featured in the video and discussed in this post, check out the World Simulation, a project in which students explore the dynamics of how the world works in order to create a simulation recreating the past 500 years of history and exploring 100 years into the future. I discuss the project and my use of technology in detail in A Portal to Media Literacy, available on YouTube, and in the essay, “Anti-Teaching: Confronting the Crisis of Significance.”


Associate professor of cultural anthropology. Ed Traceur. Hacker. Car-free.

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62 Responses

  1. Andreas says:

    Great piece!

    Your reflections ring true to me. Since graduating last year, I’ve been enjoying finding and exploring new knowledge more than ever – though I have less and less time to do it.

    What drives me is in part seeing new concrete ways of using that knowledge in direct relation to the work I’m doing, and the fact that people find value in that work and the knowledge behind it.

    I would wish that I had had the chance to make my learning much more concretely related to the world around me while I was in school. It sounds like what you describe as the “pursuit of answers to real and relevant questions” is exactly that.

  2. Bob Bell says:

    I retired from teaching after 30+ years. I taught art for 22 years and for the last eight I was the instructional designer for a small community college.

    In graduate school I was a T.A. which meant that I was not assisting anyone but actually taught freshman introduction art classes such as drawing and design. During my first design class, feeling impish, I chose to sit among the rows of design desks instead of standing at the front of the room to await the students. It is important to note that these desks were made of steel with Formica tops that lifted to expose a storage area. They couldn’t have weighed less than forty pounds and were at best awkward to move.

    Still young enough not to be identified as the instructor, I sat among the assembled students until I began to here “where is he” questions. At that point I turned on my “professors voice” and started to welcome them to the class. What happened next indelibly changed my vision of teaching. Every student picked-up or dragged their heavy awkward desks into a position that faced my position in the center of the class. The noise was deafening and on the struggling students faces were “dead serious” expressions. I was now the center of their attention. I was now the teacher. But now I was a teacher that had realized that he had little hope of ever being more than the students were trained to expect and who would never completely trust education, his or his students, to be free of indoctrinated expectations.

    Realizing the power of the simple arrangement of the room scared the crap out of me. This was 1970.

    I have followed your blog with interest and though retired am still anguishing over how education can get out of the way enough to allow learning to take place.
    Good work!

  3. alex says:


    Another great post, got me thinking, ruminating. I find your work, as ever, so near to my concerns, yet in a different voice, from another place, the ideal circumstances for critical engagement!

    So, here are a few of those thoughts. I’ve been thinking of them in the vein of “yes…and” or “and/then.” Not so much criticisms or oppositions but critical additions.

    First, your observations on teaching large lectures, and the cynical video that came from it. As you know, I teach in a small and expensive liberal arts college. My largest classes are about thirty. I’m currently teaching to twenty and eleven. Most of your observations about the love of learning occur continue to occur in my classroom simply because they’ve been bought and paid for. I am not saying I’m satisfied to teach within our current class-bound two-tiered system, but rather to say that your concerns may not so much about students altered by contemporary technology, and more about institutional change within academia. When you teach your small YouTube class, I assume most of the observations above are not so relevant. How do we bring the structures and possibilities of the small class to the large one? Not something I can speak on, in my current situation.

    Second, as for embracing and using these technologies in higher education. Yes, of course. However, in my experiments in doing just this (, I have recently considered that when new technologies are added to the traditional classroom two things must balance their tremendous power. 1) a teacher (who brings context, theory, structure).. and this person need not be a PhD, and this role can be shared 2) reality. It is key that the speculations and information that can be so easily acquired at some point get grounded in real world concerns and change. Both of these forces can serve to center and focus mediated learning which can seem chaotic and aimless without them.

    Third, in my digitally-augmented course, Media Praxis (, I have been delighted and amazed to see this small group of advanced students get completely turned on by 50 year old film theory. They move on and off the web-based part of the course to complement and build this passion, but not as a subsitute. Much of how we have taught and learn in the world before these technologies continue to work, continue to be relevant, and need to be cherished as we add the capabilities of new methods and machines to them.

  4. Greg Wilborn says:

    Perfect timing Prof Wesch! I was just collecting my thoughts on a few recent classroom observations and our (K-12) misunderstandings of the meanings and challenges of 21st Century Learning when I read your latest entry. It is amazing how relevent your observations are to the entire realm of education from K to post grad as well as the historic spectrum.

    In our small corner of the education world we have started a wiki aimed primarily at Colorado K-12 educators to discuss and share promising practices for 21st Century Learning ( I’ve been shocked and saddened at the number of colleagues who only relate 21CL to technology in the classroom and simply teacher technology at that! Inquiring minds really do want to know and relevancy, inquiry, teamwork, and creativity with little or much technology can go a long way towards inspiring learning at all levels of our system.

    Keep up the great work and thanks for the visionary leadership.

    Hated school, love learning,


  5. Grad Student says:

    Hi Dr. Wesch,

    I’m a Ph.D. student in South Carolina. I’m teaching a section of undergraduates an educational psychology survey course.

    I’ve been “gut checking” the fact that I am teaching in a very authoritarian way. While we do have a good time and there’s lots of humor, it’s still me droning on about the topics.

    Truth is, I don’t know another way.

    I ask them how it could be better done, and they don’t know either.

    So I’m working on it, and I welcome suggestions.

    Grad Student

  6. Adam R. says:

    Thought-provoking as usual, Professor.

    “Our students are so alienated by education that they are trying to sneak right past it…consider those who have somehow managed to maintain their inherent desire to learn.”

    I think those who are finding alternatives to paying attention to your class are not “not learning,” but learning from the platforms they’ve come to depend on: Twitter, Facebook, Wikipedia, etc. As you’ve hinted, the age-old model of “sage on a stage” is long dead. If I want to listen to a speaker (and I often do), I’ll download the podcast. But if I’m going to drag myself to a class (which, I should note, I haven’t done since grad school about 10 years ago…), I want the experience of being there *in person* to be substantial and meaningful. Which is exactly opposite what most teachers/professors provide.

    Yes, your role as educator is in direct competition with these sources of knowledge as well as the gaming and movie industry. Can you be that entertaining every week?

    “We don’t have to tear the walls down. ”

    Well…maybe a major remodeling is at least in order. After all, how effective can the learning environment be in a room like you described?

  7. Mihaela V says:

    I started writing a comment, but it was more of a blog post. Since this page doesn’t allow trackbacks, <a href=”″here’s a manual one :)

  8. ZenMot says:

    Your post reminds me of the eduational experiments that Phaidros in ‘Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance’ tried.
    Could you have stumbled upon an anthropological invariant? :-)

  9. M. Anderson says:

    Thanks to Mihaela V for linking me to this post.

    This is one of the best education-related articles/entries/etc. that I have ever read.

    I work for an education technology company and you have summed up what we believe is the most pressing issue facing education today. Perhaps, funding (or the lack thereof) eclipses this sublect, but

    At any rate, is it possible to include a link to this entry in our “Eye on Classroom” newsletter (with proper credit)? Rather than making it another form of advertising, we like to include relavant information like this.

    Thanks again for sharing. I look forward to reading the comments and future posts.

  10. Prof Wesch says:

    @ M. Anderson, sure, that would be great.

  11. M. Anderson says:

    Thank you very much!

  12. Let me just start by saying a huge thanks for all of the work you are doing to contextualize these technologies in ways that make sense for learning and teaching. In case you don’t know it, you have a huge following on the K-12 level.

    Having said that, some push back. While I loved this post and agree with many of the comments above, for me, everything kind of came screeching to a halt at the last section. I’m guessing what you meant when you said the solution to all of this was simple was the conceptualizing the solution part, not the implementation. I can tell you after slogging around trying to paint much the same picture for educators for the last five years, the barriers to implementation feel actually more hardened today than they did in the past. Down here, very, very few classrooms and even fewer schools look anything like what you hope for, even when the teachers at the front of the room embrace the shifts you describe. We don’t want, by and large, students with devices in their hands. We don’t want to give up this illusion that we still control the information and knowledge because we have no way to assess any other reality. And finally, the percentage of teachers who actually own the uses of these technologies in their own learning practice is very, very, very small.

    Change “down here” is incremental, and I’m talking about both change in thinking and change in pedagogy, and it’s anything but simple. And I’d be interested in hearing to what extent you see change in these areas is occurring in higher ed.



  13. “What went wrong?
    How did institutions designed for learning become so widely hated by people who love learning?”

    If things seem contradictory, check your premises. I think your premise is false. And Will Richardson’s comment
    adds support to a comment I left on your entry about Kilpatrick,
    namely that while there will be no shortage of bright educational ideas, they will rarely be implemented in institutionalised education because the purpose of institutionalised educaction is other than allowing learning to take place (that is part of it, but not the prime one). Gatto writes with compassion and genuine sadness about the many bright, eager minds that will dash themselves again and again against the unfeeling and unbending walls of institutionalised schooling. We have the less-than-perfect (and getting worse, and this is equally true in Japan as in the US) educational system that we have, because it vitally supports the kind of economy that we have. Once the connection between the two is understood, the apparently moronic and infuriating conservatism of schools is seen as inevitable. Without this understanding, you’re just pissing in the wind: fun tho it may be, it won’t achieve anything.

  14. Prof Wesch says:

    Marc, I hope that you can propose some form of solution (or a road to a solution) other than that this is simply “inevitable.” You and Will are both looking for systemic change. I would propose that the road to systemic change might be won through the adoption of a Gandhi-like method of non-cooperation. Like him, we must become increasingly aware of the structures (economic, social, and cognitive) that surround us and begin to manipulate and leverage them in ways that serve our own subversive ends. Through non-cooperation with with the structure we can find ways to use the power of the structure against itself.

    One of the best guides for this, in my opinion, is Postman’s “The End of Education” – especially the last chapter.

  15. S. Anderson says:

    As a teacher that teaches at the same institution with the same types of tools to guide my courses, I find that my students, lately more than ever, are frustrated by my encouragement of technology’s place in our class. My classes are much smaller, usually between 18-22 students, and I am constantly faced with students that just see the technology as impeding their ability to just “get by,” which may be a happy consequence.

    And, I find myself growing frustrated with their insistence that the pieces of technology that we use are too much for them to handle. I think somewhere along the way they bought into this “over-thinking” notion, and in some cases, the desire to over-think and explore has been taught out of them. I try hard to ensure that they see the relevance that I do, and I try to only use technologies that are likely to have future industry implications for them, but I am not sure the majority see it. Although, they might when they get out into industry.

    I was wondering if you are having these experiences with your students and what you do to combat them. How do you get the buy-in from these students that only want to “get-by” and seem frustrated that I am trying to get them to engage?

    p.s. We use this video as a talking point in class, and I don’t think that students like the picture it paints any more than we do!

  16. Gavin Heaton says:

    The “real world” / “ivory tower” debate is also reflected in the traditional distinctions that many of us still make — offline vs online — as if they are different realities. It is important for us all to understand that these are indeed, artificial constructs that help us define and control a world which is inherently uncontrollable.
    The sooner we incorporate this understanding into the way we live our lives, the sooner we will be able to see lasting change taking place.

  17. Michael,

    Having spent much of the last few years working with innovative school designers/architects around the world when I led, I want to thank you for speaking to the impact of space orientation. Clearly the assumptions that go into space design is one of the most compelling influences in the student/teacher relationship…while remaining one of the least talked about with regards to ‘future of learning’ discussions.

    Precisely what allows an individual to correctly ‘identify’ a ‘school’ space (orientation of the ‘teaching’ spaces vs. the ‘student’ spaces) is what prevents a re-imagination of what it means to ‘learn’ on most campuses. The moment we say ‘classroom’, a time-tested image is constructed in our head. Architects and school leaders work diligently to provide the most common space use archetypes that echo the tradition of schooling (from preK through university).

    In the few design partnerships that bravely re-write the initial architecural question that often echoes the “What do you want your school/classroom to look like?” premise — to “What will collaborative learning look like in the future? and “What spaces will best support such a vision of a learning-centric future?” — is when we are able to realize a true re-wiring of the student/teacher and student/information and student/question relationships.

    I will also say that we are facing a Catch-22 at the university level now that ‘college’ has slowly become the default setting (by mandate and social pressure) for all 18 year olds, with a sense of ‘failure’ if it is not achieved.

    If an 18 year old does not have to go through a rigorous value proposition choice with regards to why he/she should attend a post-secondary institution and the more and more that college is simply where one must go to ‘get a job’, authentic investment and authentic engagement on the part of most students diminishes.

    On the other hand, if our culture provided a multiplicity of robust/dynamic learning/working environments for 18-23 year olds to consider after high school as part of a lifetime of skill/intellectual development, I believe we’d see those who chose college ‘lean into’ their classroom opportunities rather than simply “get[ting] by” as you described. On the other hand, if college is nothing more than the ‘new high school’ in terms of future opportunities, why should the average student be truly invested within a given classroom experience?

    2 years ago, I left the school design/architecture field to return to 9-12 classroom teaching. During this same stretch, I have also left behind my role as an active edu-blogger and as a ‘future of education’ consultant/speaker in order to serve my the specific group of HS kids I see every day in my classroom. What has shocked me more than anything upon my return to the classroom is not my students’ reluctance to learn (they are actually very well trained to ‘play school’ and give off all the indicators of success you could hope for).

    No, the students’ attitudes/behaivors are not what have surprised me. They are the same as I was a generation ago in their same HS seats, with a few new tools thrown in the mix. What has been truly unexpected is my own instinctive return to a relatively traditional teaching style in spite of all that I know and have advocated for over the last few years, in spite of a wide range of innovative technologies that my my students use in the pursuit of our learning goals, in spite of an internal belief that the future of learning looks far different than how I was taught in my own academic experiences.

    I am convinced that the entire promise of school demands this. Parents and students demand it by not considering that school be more than a matter of information exchange. Teachers/professors, too, demand this because the very relevance of their positions are supported by generations of codified expectations. This has always been the case, rather than something that is only recently ‘broken’ (as our edu-blogging voices seem to imply regularly now that we’ve drank from the school 2.0 kool aid).

    Learning, on the other hand, is not bounded by formal rules, nor formal roles. But schools never promised us ‘learning’ so much as they promised us a path to specific ends.

    Perhaps our greatest conflict at this point in our educational history lies in facing our reluctance to let go of our sudden compulsion for school to suddenly be about ‘learning’ (rather than to simply accept its limitations/opportunities as being sufficient). Perhaps we’d be better served systemically and personally to help our students (and colleagues) construct their own customized learning networks/paths where ‘school’ is but one of many components working doggedly on behalf of the student’s growth.

    I do, however, believe that the work of you and your students the last few years has been vital to our ability to challenge core assumptions we all have about students, teachers, and schools. Like your reflections at the top of this piece, I have been both drawn to and repulsed by a growing malaise about our students’ engagement in formal education. And like you, I’ve been wrestling with what our emerging technology biases suggests about our roles as educators in the decades to come.

    Thank you for posing the paradox in the first place, as well as your willingness to circle back to challenge what came so easily to you at first pass.

  18. This post spoke deeply to me as a teacher, Michael. It resonated with many, many experiences I’ve had.

    Your comment, though, leads me in a different direction. When you write “a Gandhi-like method of non-cooperation”, I wonder:
    a) what will it take to get more people following such a method, beyond early adopters? (cf Moore’s chasm-crossing)
    b) what is the role of support staff, from librarians to academic computing folks? I remember your “get out of my way” line, back in April (NITLE summit, San Francisco), and am pondering if another role would be to get more instructors following this method.

    The first half of this post reminds me of several famous projects, like Summerhill and Black Mountain.

  19. Katherine says:

    Just watched your video and read your article, and I’d like to say that as a student, I prefer a class where the instructor stands in front and lectures while scribbling on a board.
    I take notes by hand in a note book. I detest powerpoit presentations.
    I effing love it when class disgussions are squashed because the lecturer knows where the class should be and is taking us there.

    the new digital media is bright and shiny but whenever I must do something on a computer I am inevitably sucked away from the subject at hand by the pull of all the knowledge all the hearsay all the information in the universe. I can learn many things from facebook or wikipedia or TVtropes but they are not the things I need to be an educated person.

    I am currently attending a community college so that I can transfer to a university. I did not graduate highschool. I recognize that because I have had to fail first and still face to possibility of further failure that I care more about my education (about showing up to class,not just “getting by”, the content of the classes I take) than my friends who attend university.

    I also recognize that the low pressure, small classes, and supportive enviroment, that characterize a community college are completely different from the massive impersonal landscape shown in your video. I have heard the horror stories but I still look forward to transferring to bigger and better things. it is to be hoped that university, like everything else, will give me back the care and attention I intend to put into it.

  20. I post today as a product of K-12 public schools with siblings who together span 17 years from eldest to youngest, my parents having a perspective of the changes in education from 1950 to 1981; as the mate of a public school teacher of over 35 years experience, with post-grad qualifications in ESL and special ed; as the parent of three children in K-12 public schools from 1988 until 2011; and as a person who loves learning and takes great pleasure in fostering that love in others.

    I think a statement of the obvious is needed: the problem is much more complex than 200 students can describe. In no particular order:

    The top-down model has worked for decades. Not for everyone, not as well as some might wish, but generations of academically competent people populate our society. What has really changed? Why are we now producing marginally competent or incompetent people? From my POV, the answer must start from an examination of every other facet of life besides education. Find and describe those other factors first, because it is much too easy to focus on the “local” aspects, thinking one can find answers and solutions there without the need to work beyond those boundaries.

    In my experience, the primary change has been the discarding of the mentor-apprentice relationship. For a variety of reasons, the increasing power of anti-intellectual bias being prominent, teacher-student engagement has been actively denigrated to the point that one must expect those 200 students to make exactly those comments. The relationship attribute I’ve seen changing is the student’s expectation of being taught to take the mentor’s place someday. It’s not just knowledge, but the practical and value-driven application of that knowledge. Personally, the symptom of this disengagement is the decline and death of “vocational” programs at the secondary level. The shift to test preparation and away from rational and cognitive skills is a reaction to disengagement, not a cause.

    One part of the video caught my attention in the strongest possible terms: the complaint about relevance. When did it become valid for the student to define the boundaries of relevance? Is it because teachers voluntarily surrendered that responsibility? Is it because the students were raised in an educational atmosphere that actively avoided fulfilling that responsibility? Again from my POV, the answer to the latter questions is a resounding yes.

    The relevance complaint is also a symptom, not a description of cause. Teachers fought the good fight for quite a while, but they lacked or lost support from administrators facing budget cuts, from unions who were focused on warm-body counts instead of professional quality, and from parents who were sold a bill of goods by corporate and industry marketing that said earning potential was more important than job and career satisfaction.

    I’m not an education professional, I just live with one and together we’ve raised three children. I suggest that what was true and important in the past is what has been lost. I suggest that new times and technologies require adaptation and adjustments, not wholesale replacement of prevailing wisdom. By all means seek out and implement approaches that meet the requirements of the times, but unless the foundation of the approach promotes and supports teacher-student engagement, it will fail. We saw that failure in the video.

  21. Ed Webb says:

    Franklin – thank you for those thoughts. I think you put your finger on one important aspect of the problem (although, as you rightly point out, the problem or problems are multi-faceted and complex): the teacher-student relationship. Good teaching engages learners, and does so through human relationships. Such relationships can be mediated by and in all sorts of technology, spaces, and institutional frameworks. I think a problem with identifying current learners in the K-12 & college domain with certain technological trends (‘digital natives’ and such) is that it has the tendency to encourage teachers to think about the technologies rather than the relationships. Road to nowhere.

  22. Ed, my wife provides an example of that “road to nowhere.” Two summers ago, she went to formal training and spent two months in a pilot program for a specialized, computer-based reading support system. It was complex because its sophistication is what made it effective. It gave the teacher control over each student’s reading material whether they were working by themselves at the computers or she was doing group instruction, but eliminated many of the hours of preparation needed for that level of personalized instruction. It was also designed to be limited: it was an adjunct to teaching reading, not the primary approach. It had the potential of being an example of technology facilitating the personal teacher-student relationship.

    Fast forward to this year. The software is in use in many schools, but principals are being jerked around with teacher transfers and such. My wife was prepared to coordinate the use of the software at her school, but last-minute, forced roster changes motivated the principal to arbitrarily assign another teacher to that role, a woman who had never seen the software before let alone been trained in its use or been given experience with students using it. It was a clear example of that learner-technology trend governing decisions. In fairness to the principal, he wasn’t any more familiar with it than the other teacher.

    FYI, my wife provides special ed services to 9th and 10th grades, for classes of mixed learning- and emotional-support children, the first and primary snafu. :-(

    My thanks to Prof. Wesch for making this topic accessible to public comment. I’ll bow out now before straining my informed-layman’s grasp of terminology and concepts beyond their limits. I will follow further discussion closely and with great interest.

  23. Hugh Davis says:


    I don’t believe the majority of students are trying to “sneak past” education; instead I think they focus on passing the assessments rather than on deep learning, and so the significance of the educational experience is indeed missed.

    We set assessments (courseworks, examinations, etc.) in the hope that they will lead to and motivate learning. However we know that far to often they become the only purpose of the learning. Too many of the assessments I see, particularly summative examinations, are concerned with testing recall and simple applications of knowledge; yet as you say, the average student carries around devices with which they could quickly find the answer to most multiple choice questions (actually I would like to disagree with that – but I get the point!).

    So surely the challenge for us academics is to change the assessment and grading of students to be relevant to the modern world and the students who made “A vision of students today”. Why are students sitting tests and examinations with paper and pen? Why do they not have access to the internet? Are 90-minute examinations a useful measure of a person’s abilities? Did the set-work motivate them to study and learn or simply to pass the assessment? How do we know whether coursework is a good representation of a student’s ability or whether it is a representation of their ability to get help? Does it matter?

    I’d like to see a (student) vision of assessment tomorrow!

  24. Prof Wesch says:

    Right on, Hugh. I am writing a paper right now that poses assessment as the core of our problems as you state. I’m trying to round up the promising alternatives. One of the best I have seen is the Visible Knowledge Project at Georgetown: Any others you can think of?

  25. Joe the Commenter says:

    Ditto, Hugh. I was a college freshman 20 years ago and I was expecting better from college even then when it came to assessment. And for some classes, I realized the only goal of the professor was to help his students pass the tests and quizzes. Then I realized that while not all my profs were like him, the rest of my classes certainly could be approached in that manner. Awful.

    When I finally graduated, the WWW was in its infancy, but I was already using it for school. Several years ago I took a college course, and I was floored that assessment was still as it was, that class was taught the same way, that it was like the Internet didn’t exist — it was just like when I was in first grade. Actually, I’d say of my first grade teacher that she handled assessment the best out of all my years as a student. So sad. I remember she used to give us one-on-one oral interviews and tests. But that was a class of 18, 13 second graders and five first graders, and she had a student teaching assistant half the time.

    FWIW, I feel like I learned more in my first year out of college than the six years in it. And I want to go back to grad school? What am I, nuts? No, I want to go back and work on these very things. I’m bookmarking y’all.

    P.S. Something is wrong with your server. This site is extremely slow to load. And the front page has yet to load all the content for me.

  26. Bob Price says:

    I firmly believe that in 10 years, “push to talk” technology coupled with IM and Educational linking Social Networking will mean that students will learn more via their ‘iPods’ than they will from their teachers.

    The ability to learn a language by talking and colaberating with students from other countries exists now. What is missing is the tools to make the linkups easy. A school based Facebook (Schoolbook ?) would facilitate hook up by education interest with students around the world.

    Imagine the understanding of cultures that could exist if this technology was around at grade (primary) school level !

    I am soaking up all you are writing. Keep going !

  27. As I was reviewing my iGoogle Personal Learning Network of Blogs (just another sign of the times) – I stumbled upon this post. I had seen the YouTube video, A Vision of Students Today, a while back and actually embedded it into my Wikispace, Trends for 21st Century K12 Education –

    I love the video but didn’t expect to see anything new until I came across the question:
    “How did institutions designed for learning become so widely hated by people who love learning?” I am an avid learner, have a doctorate, teach both college and gifted elementary and found almost all of my K-20 education to be painfully (and I want to emphasize painfully) boring. As all of the tech didn’t exist at the time I was a student, I always hid a book in the class text and watched impatiently time go by. As I love learning – my passion, my hobby, my leisure time enjoyment, I just kept going to school as it gave me ideas what to study, research, learn once I left classroom – spending hour upon hour in the college library stacks. Now, these hours are spent cruising through the Internet.

    So back to the question that drew me to your post – I know the physical structure of the lecture hall lends itself to . . . uh . . . lectures, but am confused and respectfully inquiring why you were teaching using pedagogy contrary to what was demonstrated in your video. In both my college and elementary-level classrooms, I am often criticized by colleagues about my hands-on and project-based learning, cooperative and collaborative learning, group discussion and lack of lecture. They call me non-traditional, but as I see it, I am as traditional as they come as this is how learning – and its associated love of the process – occurred prior to the institutionalization of learning.

    So how do I model my classrooms and learning environments? I model them in a way that I wished I had been taught. As “the” teacher I become the tour guide of learning possibilities and then I get out of the way so the students can learn. Here is an example of this being created by a group of my upper elementary students (and collaborating with classes in Illinois and the country of Turkey)

  28. John Reilly says:

    In the past few years there’s been a considerable amount of research done on how to improve the classroom and other spaces in the learning environment. As noted before classrooms have remained static and unchanged in the face of advancing technologies and changing learning behaviors such as collaboration.

    Unique classroom geometries support displays of information that generate greater participation and immersion in content. The student participation climbs, content is absorbed faster and the enjoyment of learning is achieved.

    It’s been researched, tried and tested and universities are beginning to discover it. Check it out.

  29. Chris Barker says:

    Your musings on the lecture theate outlined that, as educators, we stand before a new language, process, and way of viewing relationship. If we dare to regard the shimmering suface of information – forever shifting, liquid and avaliable in the i-phone and “ubiquitos surfaces” streaming information in the pockets of students, we will see a challenge unlike anything preceeding it in the history of knowledge exchange.

    Some would argue that the social function of the institution as power will out, as I see some have already, encouraging you not to piss in the wind, but these information sources and surfaces are not kidding, nor ‘pissing about’- they will overwhelm even the notion of containment, or surveillance, or ideology (How do you contain an ‘I’ which is multiple, and similtaneous?)

    It would be hubris to think that the Academy can somehow ‘contain’ or ‘envelop’ this beast. Relevance will always win in the development of language. Eloquence is hard to come by, but the key to eloquence surely must involve USE.

    The difficulty the Academy has with this particular type of eloquence is that it finds it difficult to assimilate its current architectural assumptions (sit down and shut up) with the erosion of the usefulness of a ‘singular, verifiable source. The problem is architectural, wherein the lecture theatre is a material legacy of a entirely different knowledge/transmission model.

    Your world building project, and the questions you raise are interesting in that they ask – how best do we create a new architecture which is aware of, and inclusive of, networked knowledge technologies (and, more importantly, modalities)?

    I am interested in this learning question as a design question – as a series of questions of facility, augmentation, and familiarity. We should be interested in designing tools which facilitate new modalities of practice and communication. A favorite question, which gathers with it a lot that is difficult and problematic with networked knowledge is “how then shall we encode depth? How shall we know, and support deep and abiding engagements?”

  30. Dear Dr. Wesch,

    I’m teaching digital literacy and related subjects at about 700 students per year at the Medical School and the Faculty of Educational Sciences in Firenze. In my last post ( ) that I wrote as a final contribution to my participation to the connectivism course facilitated by George Siemens and Stephen Downes ( ) there is a short description of the methods my students and me are experimenting.

    One of the students translated your post in Italian. We would like to post the translation in the blog or the wiki of our courses and therefore we are asking your permission to do this.

  31. Bob:

    Very interesting your video. Im a teacher from Argentina. I have a blog with a lot of opinions about this, please read (in spanish)


  32. As a university professor I’ve taken to ripping the tree up by the roots; I created a documentary on a Sudbury school ( and have started my own ( It’s curious to see how caught we are in our desperate attempts to preserve teaching. This generation has found its AGENCY and nothing will stuff it back.

  33. Patrick says:

    Thinking about this video.

    For me my college experience has been profoundly different. I have had the opportunity to go to a small private liberal school. I think that for my education has been dominated by huge classes, but of the same problems exist. At Knox College, their seems to be an unwritten rule to fight so me teachers call grade inflation. I think that is a great thing on most levels, but what does this say about out education? Does it mean that students coming out of Knox are less bright than those from others? I worry as a student that graduate will think that? So how do we fix this problem?

    My second is to do with power point professors. I think it should be outlawed. I have a two teachers who teachers who teach exclusively with these things, and they have taken subject that I have interest and practically made me hate them. Now, here is the bad part. Why do I hate them? Sadly, I hate them because of all the extra work that I have to put into them. It is one thing to be able to attack a problem and make head way because you have got some basic understanding from going to lecture, but when lecture is terrible. It become attacking a mountain’s worth of information with dull end of shovel. Here is the second part to this problem. Both of these teachers are….tenured. So they don’t care. They have a completely secure job future. This has to change. We have to make a way to keep teachers from getting lazy once they get tenure.

    Thanks! I would love to hear you thoughts!

  34. says:

    This is a great tool to use in the Freshmen Orientation Process.

  35. Geoff Cain says:

    I found the original video exhilarating. I knew people who interpreted the video as a negative thing. I did not understand that. I thought people would see that video and say “it is time to change how we teach.” I really thought that it was about time. Instead, they would say “those poor kids” and talk about how we should be banning computers in the classroom. I celebrated the video because I knew that those changes in our culture were already happening. Students today do not read paper; they do not read journals, and they don’t subscribe to newspapers. The current culture of teaching prepares students for a world that is already gone. No one is going to ask them in the work place to solve a problem by writing a ten-page research paper.

    The original video was one of the inspirations for our class (Health Information Management 101). This class utilizes social networks, new media, and is portfolio assessed. There are links to this class on my blog. I felt that it was important to create a class that taught students how to build knowledge networks of peers, advanced students, and professionals. We also have classes where students are creating videos and podcasts in place of traditional papers. Since the students are utilizing the internet and networks for their main source of information, it is extremely important that we facilitate critical thinking about new media and social networks.

  36. Very good clause about a life of students

  37. At the end of the twentieth century it was noted that education systems, were obsolete, this constituted a major factor in students demotivations.

    It should be noted that education systems, at the time, did not meet the needs of society.

    The teacher had the information, the learning process we focused on her, and students were no more than objects.

    Above predominated unidirectional communication, so the students could become involved a few times in the learning process.

    The academy was the holder of knowledge, but the inertia meant that the contributions of the students were ignored.

    In modern societies, knowledge is considered a major competitive advantage, the new reality requires a professional adequacy of the skills required, students should have the ability to think critically, to work as a team and to transform information into knowledge

    With Web 2.0, the learning process is no longer centered on teachers and shall be centered on students, promotes the critical spirit and collaborative learning and develops team spirit.

    It is noted that one group is able to do much more than a collection of isolated individuals, assuming the teacher has only a guiding role in the process.

    However, for these new educational systems can be disseminated around the globe is necessary that students have access to technology.

    Thus, we believe that developed countries prove to support, in cooperation with international organizations, so which education takes place in a sustained and affordable for all who need it.

    Lisbon, May 26, 2010

    Grupo 2

  38. Joaquim Pinto - Groupe 2 says:

    At the end of the twentieth century it was noted that education systems, were obsolete, this constituted a major factor in students demotivations.

    It should be noted that education systems, at the time, did not meet the needs of society.

    The teacher had the information, the learning process we focused on her, and students were no more than objects.

    Above predominated unidirectional communication, so the students could become involved a few times in the learning process.

    The academy was the holder of knowledge, but the inertia meant that the contributions of the students were ignored.

    In modern societies, knowledge is considered a major competitive advantage, the new reality requires a professional adequacy of the skills required, students should have the ability to think critically, to work as a team and to transform information into knowledge

    With Web 2.0, the learning process is no longer centered on teachers and shall be centered on students, promotes the critical spirit and collaborative learning and develops team spirit.

    It is noted that one group is able to do much more than a collection of isolated individuals, assuming the teacher has only a guiding role in the process.

    However, for these new educational systems can be disseminated around the globe is necessary that students have access to technology.

    Thus, we believe that developed countries prove to support, in cooperation with international organizations, so which education takes place in a sustained and affordable for all who need it.

    Lisbon, May 26, 2010

    Groupe 2

  39. Paula says:

    Dear Professor Michael Wesch,

    Here’s another comment from the group of the online Master Course on E-Learning Pedagogy at Universidade Aberta in Portugal.

    Thank you
    Marina, Paula and Telma.

    “A vision of Students Today”
    This is a catchy video. The music and imagery help to convey a quick overview of what students college life is today in the U.S., but which can be extended to other continents. The classroom transpires apathy and indifference, partly derived from the teacher’s actions maybe. Like you said in another video using Neil Postman’s words this is an environment of “irrelevance, incoherence and impotence”. The scene of writing on the blackboard is an old razor-sharp image of this vision. These are what you called the “physical, social, and cognitive structures working against us”.
    The whole thing oversees a kind of information that is orderly and structured, but also corseted and fragmented. But the fact is that we do not know what kind of knowledge is generated from the social interactions based on Web 2.0 tools. Faced with so much change, you may need some order and structure to serve as a counterbalance. We do not believe that the division into disciplines is totally negative. In fact, it is remarkable to notice that it is you, Professor Wesch, with your classes, the one who gives the example of an approach that goes beyond your subject of Digital Ethnography.
    The answer to the question posed – if technology can save us – becomes clear when you apply the quote from Josiah Bumstead regarding the advantages of using chalk in 1841. Indeed, the most important thing is not technology, even though it provides new media environments, it is rather what we do with it. As a true believer you consider that the spirit of the Web 2.0 is sufficient as it provides “new ways of relating to one another, new forms of discourse, new ways of interacting, new kinds of groups, and new ways of sharing, trading, and collaborating”. Perhaps we are at the beginning of a social revolution. However, the question remains whether these tools can really help students to achieve the transition from being knowledgeable to knowledge-able. Education was always a conservative area, but perhaps this is necessary, anyway it is also opened to change. The hardest thing to modify is not physical structures, it is the methods and philosophies and the old means of dealing with the learning process. For example, you know that there is no ideal alternative to an evaluation of students’ work based on these new forms of learning.
    It is necessary that students and teachers use the advantages and be aware of the possibilities of new digital tools to improve their way of teaching/learning. Your innovative spirit, close relationship with students, and significant activities are already giving the example of ways to alter the vision pictured in the video. You and your students are an inspiring example of the change we all aspire to get.

  40. Hello, Mike Wesch Teachers, we are a working group of the Master in Pedagogy of E-learning at the Open University – Portugal.
    For unity “Network Society” and through our teacher Antonio Teixeira, we learned of its existence and its excellent work around the Web influence on education and culture worldwide.
    After viewing some of your videos and website, where we put some comments, the result of teamwork, we find its concern to show the world the impacts included in the network society.
    Through videos simple, but highly significant, can show us the changes that occur in this mediated world, making us change social processes breaking the cultural past.
    We realized easily, from the message you want to address. Sure that their students, take delight in having a teacher with this dynamic entrepreneur.
    Sure that we will follow this path that we decided to go.
    We wish you continued excellent work she does.

    Yours sincerely


    At the end of the twentieth century it was noted that education systems, were obsolete, this constituted a major factor in students demotivations.
    It should be noted that education systems, at the time, did not meet the needs of society.
    The teacher had the information, the learning process we focused on her, and students were no more than objects.
    Above predominated unidirectional communication, so the students could become involved a few times in the learning process.
    The academy was the holder of knowledge, but the inertia meant that the contributions of the students were ignored.
    In modern societies, knowledge is considered a major competitive advantage, the new reality requires a professional adequacy of the skills required, students should have the ability to think critically, to work as a team and to transform information into knowledge
    With Web 2.0, the learning process is no longer centered on teachers and shall be centered on students, promotes the critical spirit and collaborative learning and develops team spirit.
    It is noted that one group is able to do much more than a collection of isolated individuals, assuming the teacher has only a guiding role in the process.
    However, for these new educational systems can be disseminated around the globe is necessary that students have access to technology.
    Thus, we believe that developed countries prove to support, in cooperation with international organizations, so which education takes place in a sustained and affordable for all who need it.

    Lisbon, May 26, 2010

    Ana Torres
    Carla Maria Elías
    Joaquim Pinto
    Nuno Miguel Oliveira
    Tercilia Assis

  41. Hi, Prof. Wesch

    We are five students of a master degree in E-Learning Pedagogy, in Universidade Aberta, Portugal.

    We analyzed some of your videos and we focused on the following questions: the social function of education in the network society , the recovery of the community dimension of education and its relationship with the notion of self-training.

    We have watched and analyzed your video A vision of students today, which we found very important because it makes us reflect about what education should be nowadays.

    The world became networked and most of the communication established today involves the Internet, but most classes seem to have ignored that. This video, supported by a text created by the students in a collaborative way, is an excellent example of the use of the technology to make students learn and cooperate, or even better, to make students learn because they cooperated. Although we think that the books and the blackboard still have their place in education, we couldn’t agree more with the message of this video. The aim of education is to make students learn and to help them acquire the skills necessary to be successful in our changing world, so we can’t continue working with them like in the 19 th century, as you point out. Education must integrate the new communication tools and the new research tools, in order to provide meaningful learning to the students. By doing so the result can be as interesting as this excellent video.

    Fernando, Margarida, Helena, Denyze and Joaquim

  42. Carolyn Baker says:

    Annotated Bibliography
    Carolyn Baker
    Walden University
    Dr. Colin Winkelman
    Understanding Students: Learning, Development, and Diversity (EDUC – 6165 – 1)
    October 3, 2010

    Critical Summary: The articles I viewed show several thoughts I have for my research. One area I never had give a though about is that the non-traditional students are intrinsic motivation. When I attended school some of the non-traditional students were motivated others were not. I would have to agree part the reason is the emotions of the young student could be the reason (Bye, Pushar, & Conway, 2007).
    The article that I would have to say I am not so sure about is the one where it stated that most universities are geared toward the younger generation (Kasworm, 2009). This may be true but I know most adults I have spoke to do have a little trouble when they first enter college. Once they have an understanding of what is expected they seem to be more active in the classroom.
    Most of the journals did work well with my research but there is one area I would like to add to my research, this is in the area of technology. Many of the non-traditional student have problem with is technology. That is one area I would like to see if I could find a little more information on how technology is affecting non-traditional.
    Kasworm, C.E. (2009). Adult learners in a resarch universty. Negotiating Undergraduate Study Identity, 60(2), Retrieved from

    Bye, D., Pushar, D., & Conway, M. (2007). Adutlt eduation quarty. Motivaton, inerest, and positive affect in tradition and nontrational undergraduate students, 57(2), 141-158.

    Project Parameters: As being a non-traditional student there were many problems and issue I had to address. At the time I was in school no one seen to have to answers to some of my questions. Non-traditional students are defined as students who are over the age of 28, traditional student are under the age of 21. There are several differences in traditional and nontraditional students (Bye, Pushar, & Conway, 2007).
    Research question: What makes nontraditional students different than a traditional student?
    Literature search emphasis: The sources will include article and journals, which will show some of the differences of the nontraditional student learn process and address some of the issues they will have to deal with. There are several areas I would like to look into. There are struggle with nontraditional students is it their class or social background. Why did they wait to attend school? Was social or economical factor behind these students to attend school?
    Bye, D., Pushar, D., & Conway, M. (2007). Adutlt eduation quarty. Motivaton, inerest, and positive affect in tradition and nontrational undergraduate students, 57(2), 141-158.

    Summary of the finding:
    Nontraditional student have a more intrinsic motivation compared to the traditional students. There are a total of 300 students that was recruited for this research. A sample of the students represented the total university population was taken.
    In the research traditional students who are no different than the nontraditional when it comes to being motivated. They are motivated, if are predisposed to move toward becoming a life long learner and students motivated to gain knowledge. Also emotions can play a part, it can broaden people momentary thought action. The study does show that nontraditional student do have intrinsic motivation. The degree of interest and goals can greatly affect motivation (Bye, Pushar, & Conway, 2007).
    Kasworm, C.E. (2009). Adult learners in a resarch universty. Negotiating Undergraduate Study Identity, 60(2), Retrieved from

    Summary of the finding: University is constructed to meet youth-oriented culture at the school. Most university has a more
    Youth full dominant background. The classes are geared toward the younger student each vocal expressions offer a paradoxical experience. The younger student is dominant in the interaction with the faculty; the adult student will reconcile expectation of the environment. The adult students will identity through a more active role in the classroom. Adults will use their personal and intellectual interactions with faculty (Kasworm, 2009).

    Galvin, C. R. (2006). Research on divorce amoung postsecondary student. The family journal, 14(2), Retrieved from htt:// doi: DOI:0.117/10664070629141

    Summary of the finding: In the United States 33% of the nontraditional student are divorces, separated or widowed. Up to 45% students are married or living with someone. When an individual is stress it can cause other areas of their lives to be stressed. Some students delay college because of financial reasons or lack of confidence. Others start college but drop out because of various reasons. Some of the nontraditional students come back because of divorce, advance careers, midlife career change and to follow their dream. College can affect family due to the challenges of college workload and stress (Galvin, 2006).
    Jenning, M., Werbel, J.D., & Power, M.L. (2003). The impact of benefits on graduation student willingness to accept job offers. Journal of business communication, 40(4), Retrieved from htt:// doi: DOI: 101177/0021943030400004

    Summary of the finding: Communication will enhance organizational effectiveness. This suggests that employee communication is contingent upon many variables. The finding are important to students because companies are likely to offer help in order to secure a larger application pool.

    Voigt, K. (2007). Theory and rseach in education. Individual choice and unequal participation in higher education, 5(1), Retrieved from doi: DOI:10.177/1777857073617

    Summary of the finding: The background of a nontraditional student is less likely to attend a university or particular at institutions. Nontraditional students in higher education remain a problem of social justice. Class or ethnic background should not affect these individuals from attending universities yet many nontraditional students are a little apprehend about attending a university. Nontraditional students will apply once they realize the benefits out weight the cost (Voigt, 2007).

  43. Rita Albuquerque says:

    Hello, Prof. Wesch,
    We are students from the Masters’ in e-Learning Pedagogy from the Portuguese Open University.
    “A Vision of Students Today” is a notable video. We loved the squeaking door sound opening for a grey and dull classroom as a metaphor for the old ways such imagery represents. The huge distance created between the teacher and the students such room evokes is even enhanced by the number of seats, as if “the more, the merrier” was the proper motto for education (By the way, are you sure that rooms and furniture cannot talk? ;-)).
    But it is not easy to see happy faces in our classrooms; more usually the long faces the video (mostly) shows, even when they were acting in these simple and effective ways of showing real data about what’s happening, in general, in classrooms all over the world, the main characteristics of today’s students, as they learn, what they need to learn, their goals, hopes, dreams and what kinds of changes they will experience in your life.
    The thing that amazes us most is that messages can be passed effectively without so much technology, just in the right portion for it not to interfere with the real content. Form and content can be a very fruitful “couple” for reflection, that’s for sure. Thank you for showing us that Ethnography can be such a wonderful tool to read the world, even such a technological loaded one as ours.
    Best regards
    Manuel J. Matos (Portugal) and Rita Albuquerque (Brasil)

  44. Hello Professor Mike Wesch,

    My name is Deborah Cunha. I am a student of Masters in Elearning Pedagogy of the Open University in Portugal and, after analyzing the contents of some of your videos, I thought important to share some of my conclusions.

    On the video A Vision of Students Today, we note the following issues raised through a brainstorming exercise: how students learn today, what they need to learn for the future, what goals, hopes, dreams, how will their lives, what kind of changes they will experience.

    This video gives us a call for change, a concern. The world has changed, it changed the way we communicate, how we are … Consequently, the method of teaching and learning should be rethought in other molds, trying to follow the evolution in the ways of learning to absorb the information and communicating. Information can also be required out of the classroom; the Internet allows us an infinite field of learning and the tools that Web 2.0 offers open up new perspectives to exploit by educators. There is a need to train producers of knowledge and non-reproductive knowledge; the student must develop skills such as critical thought and they should be able to select precisely the quality of information they want to absorb.

    Today there is apathy in permanent classrooms, a lack of motivation, which must clearly lead teachers to reflect on the urgent innovation of teaching methodologies.

  45. Gonçalo Carvalheiro says:

    Dear Professor Michael Wesch,
    We are a group of students taking an online Master Course on E-Learning Pedagogy at Universidade Aberta, in Portugal. The teacher of Education and Society on the Web assigned us the following task: analyze and publish a post with a comment on your video.

    It appears that the current instruction is not in tune with the world “outside” the classroom (or with the future). The way he handles the teaching and learning in schools is still similar to how they processed the teaching learning process in the nineteenth century.

    The current education system was designed for a different time. It was conceived in the Enlightenment and the cultural environment in economic circumstances of the industrial revolution. In short, the conditions existing in the nineteenth century are quite different from those existing today.

    In a way, the video seems to indicate that these new technologies are not yet being exploited in the learning process. In fact, there are new ways of teaching and learning. The teacher to student system (only one direction) is not compatible with the immense technological possibilities and changes in mentality as a result of the existence of these technologies.

    The video also takes us to the role of teacher and student. If the teacher only brings information into the classroom, he just brings something that can be found at the click of a button on the Web. On the Web, explanations are more attractive than those made in the classroom. In other words, do not bring anything!

    Dissociated two realities: how do we learn in school and how do we learn ….

    Alice, Filomena, Gonçalo and Miguel

  46. Paulo Ferreira - Equipa Omega says:

    Hi, Prof. Wesch.
    We’re posting a comment to your interesting video that was written in a group work by the students that are attending the Masters in Elearning Pedagogy of Open University in Portugal (
    This video is meant to emphasize the paradigm of traditional education versus collaborative learning. As expected, this second dimension in recent years comes to occupy a place which is recognized in many ways and places the first in a deep slump. A more formal education, more traditional, now gives way to a new approach that focuses more on the use of new technologies. We watched the video over to a clear picture and adoption of technology as a new way of being and communicating, withdrawn and more traditional images still linger in our memory.

    Omega Team