Presentation: A Portal to Media Literacy

Presented at the University of Manitoba on June 17th 2008.

Kind words about this presentation from Stephen’s Lighthouse:

I picked this up from the CASL discussion list in Canada. It deserves wider distribution:

“Many of you have probably seen Kansas SU prof Michael Wesch’s thought-provoking video, “A
Vision of Students Today”.

Recently Dr. Wesch spoke at the University of Manitoba where he explained the the basis of this video in a talk entitled, “Michael Wesch and the Future of Education.” I found it fascinating! He describes how he so naturally incorporates emerging technologies into his courses from the smallest seminar type class to the largest lecture theatre filled class.

More importantly he not only talks about the technologies but how he encourages extraordinary participation and collaboration from his students by engaging them in meaningful learning activities.

Although the video is 66 minutes long…pour a coffee, iced tea or glass of wine and enjoy this dynamic presentation from a master teacher.”

Dubbed “the explainer” by popular geek publication Wired because of his viral YouTube video that summarizes Web 2.0 in under five minutes, cultural anthropologist Michael Wesch brought his Web 2.0 wisdom to the University of Manitoba on June 17 (see video above).

During his presentation, the Kansas State University professor breaks down his attempts to integrate Facebook, Netvibes, Diigo, Google Apps, Jott, Twitter, and other emerging technologies to create an education portal of the future.

“It’s basically an ongoing experiment to create a portal for me and my students to work online,” he explains. “We tried every social media application you can think of. Some worked, some didn’t.”


(note: now that YouTube has upgraded my account so I can upload longer videos I will begin posting some of my talks and lectures. I’ll release the Library of Congress talk on YouTube sometime around July 19th.)


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

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15 Responses

  1. Adam says:

    Great presentation – definitely worth a look!

  2. This was an excellent lecture. I am an American who has been living and studying in Australia. I am doing a multimedia degree with a focus on media studies. It is always very heartening to me when I see teachers not only acknowledge the existence of new media but also utilize it. Despite being in a degree with great media focus, I have only had one or two classes where teachers took at least some advantage of the tools they were teaching me about. This bothers me and certainly leads me to align myself with the majority who believe they are getting very little valuable experience in university education (or as it can sometimes more appropriately be described, indoctrination).

    It is my hope that more and more schools will become “wired,” because, as you show so well in this presentation, it opens doors to more information and greater critical analysis of that information. It is vital for lecturers to realize how new technologies have changed the way we interact with the world. Without realizing and using this, everyone has a very good chance of missing out on something. Many of the things you mention in this are very important, and so I’ll be passing it around down under.

    One thing I would like to mention is that the world system game you adapted for the course was very inventive and interesting. However, it seemed too highly constructed, and I hope you consider opening it up even more in the future. There were some economic fallacies (re: living on a dollar a day) made along the way, and I was very disappointed to see that one of the methods used was that news broadcasts, made by you, were “sponsored” by the fruit loops company, and that this, in turn, led everyone to buy fruit loops. This is magic bullet/hypodermic needle media theory, and it’s controversial, seen as most likely inaccurate upon further, modern study.

    Considering so much of the world system game seemed to be affected by the production, buying and selling of the fruit loops, using a questionable/dated theory like that as a foundational part of your game may very well have constructed a lot of the results, which would be a shame for the learning process. Also, not allowing (from what I could glean) students to participate in the news reporting and broadcasting process of the world possibly constructed things further and actually does not reflect how some news reporting occurs today.

    I hope if/when you discover a better way of grading, you’ll discuss it here! The current model, where really only the people doing the best or those near failing care about their scores, is hopeless.

  3. Salina says:

    i was looking for new ideas in this education world and suddenly bounced into this amazing lecture. it really widen my view towards education nowadays and how we can open up the students’ mind through technology and the www.

    amazing lecture and just what i needed for this coming semester…

  4. Tania says:

    This lecture feels like it goes by in 5 minutes and sticks like it’s been an entire semester. Very well done.
    And it makes me wonder – if a class can be captured in a YouTube video and then discussed by people across the world, I wonder what this means for the future of education. Much like information, we’ve always thought of education as being a thing in a category and in a place. But this lecture can be tagged with numerous subjects and can exist anywhere.

  5. Gloria Shaw says:

    I’m a student, also work in a company in internal communications and intranet and in addition I would love to teach some day so this lecture was inspiring in a lot of ways and I think it can help me in all my activities.

    Specially I loved the part of the group notes and putting words out there and all the students giving them meaning.

    For the grading you talked about, I’ll give you an idea, maybe it needs some polish buy it might work. When we are assigned in a course to do group work and then expose to the class the truth is that there are few that participate in the group and the class isn’t always very receptive. I believe it has a lot to do with not being the “authorised” spokesman. Also here in Argentina most of the students work a 8 or 9 hours shift and then go to class so they have little time. Taking a lot of what you said, just with a turn: you can divide the class in groups then each has to work with some key words, different for each team, who can be given pointers or reference authors. Then each team should upload in the wiki the information, the relationships, the comments in any kind of format video, audio, text, graphics and include discussion rooms where questions can be made. Also a presential class could be good. Afterwords individually everyone would be graded on topics in which they didn’t work sow they need to work has a network and learn from the research done by their classmates but also can interact with them in forums or in the same wiki.

    The final grade would be composed in three parts:
    50% the grade on the test (topics they didn’t originally worked on) With this grade you find out what they know about all the assignment and not only the topics they worked on.
    25% Each student would give points to the material from which they studied the topics they were tested on (made by another group) this way you can find out if the outcome of the different team works were useful. The student would not give away too much points because if the information was excellent buy they didn’t do well in the test then it’s their fault, but at the same time they know they will be graded too so they shouldn’t be too harsh, just fair. The result would be the average of the points received for each group
    25% Each student should give points to the other members of their group anonymously. This way you know if everyone participated. Also the result would be the average.

    For example.

    Maria – Juan: research topics A and B
    Federico – Martin: topics C and D
    Natalia – Sofia: topics E and F
    Carlos – Sara: topics G and H

    Then: María would be graded by:
    The test of topics E and H
    The the average of the points given by the members of the other group who have been tested on the topics A and B, in the example could be Martin, Natalia and Carlos.
    The average of the points given her teammate/s, in this case Juan (it should be with bigger groups)

    At the same time she would:
    Grade the information about this two topics
    grade Juan’s participation in the team work

    While I was writing it I realized that it is may be too complicated. But I’ll posted anyway. Maybe someone finds a better way using some of it.

    Anyhow THANKS, it was a fantastic and inspiring lecture.

  6. achilles3 says:

    Wonderful presentation Prof. Wesch. Thank you and the University of Manitoba for sharing it with the world.

  7. Alexandre says:

    Possibly a more interesting presentation than the LoC one. Deeper, less “dazzling,” more thought-provoking, and more direct/frank.
    The parts about critical thinking, knowledge, and learning could all serve as bases for large discussions. The “crisis of significance” sounds like a newer version of the “crisis of representation” which happened in ethnographic disciplines during the last twenty years. Because “significance” is an important concept in my own research, I was personally taken by this idea, even though I don’t tend to focus on crises.

    Of course, it’d be nice to hear more from KSU students. It might well be that the best way is to go through Netvibes.

    To be honest, I found the portion about the classroom game somewhat confusing. The goals and learning materials involved are easy to understand (especially for fellow anthros), but I had a hard time following the logic behind the presentation and keeping in mind the “crisis of significance” dimension. Part of it might have to do with my background. This type of game/exercise isn’t very common in Quebec and I tend to associate it with elementary or secondary education, along with the controversial “word problems” in mathematics.

    Overall, a rather useful presentation. Might use it in teaching.

  8. Bryn says:

    I’m sorry – I loved The Machine and the “An anthropological introduction to YouTube” but I repectively suggest Piaget and Vygotsky had a grasp on individual and social learning that has not been significantly added to here – possibily connectivism is an the next evolution of that but I have my doubts. Obtaining (dumping – whether it be in the classroom or on a screen) information is not the same as constructing understanding.

    Delivering information – whether it be in person or by e-means is not teaching. Learners must engage and construct / deconstruct and re-construct to develop internal understanding. That understanding may not be externally correct but through a cycle of construction and deconstruction that understanding gains greater value and meaning. There has to be a conversation taking place – that can be externally or internally – questions, whether to the expert without or the novice within, must be asked if one is to achieve learning.

  9. Joe says:

    Very invigorating presentation. Really fires me up just when I wasn’t feelin’ so fired up! Readin’ others posts and visitin’ their sites is helpful. Helpful in seeing what others are thinkin’, experiencing, contributing…revives my excitement for the subject of media/visual/community(?) literacy. Powerful stuff!!!

  10. Hery Yanto the says:

    From what you have presented on the video, I can get the point that the most important thing to make human success in learning is the intelligence. “Learning don’t have to deal with always agree with someone that have the authority.” I 100% agree with this and I told my students several times about that. I like to create questions in my test that sound ridiculous for others, such as “What you will do if you have borned at the era of World War II and you are the president of this nation?” Students will come up with various answer and that presented their capability to do a creative thinking. But, this questions would not be accomodate in national exam. Even it is ridiculous and “strange” for some people(teachers) I still keep going on, coz I know that will make my students think something in different ways. That related to what you called, “meaningful connector”. Even what they do was not directly connected to the test/exam material but they will remember the ‘ridiculous’ situation and make them remember somewhat of the information they need to do the test. Ow now I know that “Question is catalist to best learning.”

  11. I’m not sure I’m following you. Would you mind elaborating some more on your first point?

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