World Simulation (the full video)

Here is the full World Simulation video for Spring 2008. Several people have seen the sped-up “teaching with twitter” version and requested the original, so here it is. This won’t be up for long, so watch now!

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

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18 Responses

  1. roberto says:

    Oh, “Veoh is no longer available in your country”. How sad. :(

  2. Prof Wesch says:

    Wow. That’s crazy. Any ideas why?

  3. Joshua Works says:

    Wonderful simulation and documentary, Michael. Appreciation for “how we got to this point”, though not the most interesting or postmodern question provoked by such a simulation, seems an especially important one to be made.

    Perhaps every generation feels this way, but I often lament that the answer(s) to that question are not well taught or understood, and at a declining rate. Am I just a gloomy pessimist?

  4. Chris Duke says:

    I appreciate you posting the full video; although, I wish it did not have to be taken down at some point in the future. It’s such a valuable message – for me, as much educationally (effective learning design & activity) as politically and culturally.

    Have you published the details of how to run the simulation? I’d very much like to work with anthro faculty at my institution to replicate the experience. Fantastic work, and as always, enjoyed it.

    Also, I was also glad to see the more balanced article from Chronicle Higher Ed; much better than their last mention of the work you’re doing ;-)


  5. John Janeczek says:

    response to roberto:
    maybe too much illegal donwloanding was in your country from Veoh?
    response to Prof Wesch:
    wonderfull simulation maybe i will try to translation to polish language to mirror site about all of Prof projects?
    when the full video of simulation will be available to download?

  6. I’d just echo what Chris said above. The simulation is fascinating and I am also curious as to how you planned it out and what your role was in the process once the simulation began.

    Really great and inspiring work.

  7. A. Mercer says:

    We were discussing how technology is used in the training of pre-service teachers tonight ( One of the threads of that discussion was that teachers do not often see examples of how project based learning, with or without technology, looks like.

    I mentioned that I like your the Machine is Us/ing, and similar videos, but what really has impressed me has been the world simulation videos. I think these are your most powerful tool is showing what you do and how powerful this type of education can be.

    It’s a shame that it will only be up a short time because this is extremely powerful, and has a lot to teach us about how we can learn.

    Thanks for sharing!

  8. lisapaloma says:

    Yeah, “no longer available in your country” (El Salvador). Can anybody tell me why? How does that happen?

  9. Michael,

    You requested dialogue and here it is:

    I have been teaching anthropology for over 20 years now. I teach at a community college (if you need the pedigree, I have a Ph.D. from Northwestern and fieldwork experience in east Africa). My classes are about 30 students. I do 4 a semester. I do all kinds of interesting and innovative things with them and always have. And yet, I find, myself, having to defend my methods to my own IT people–Chris Duke, posting above being one. There is no question the technology people love you but I, as an anthropologist, have some serious issues with your message.

    The simulation is cool but it is only a hook not the be all and end all of Anthropology. In fact, your own “Rate my Professors” ratings indicate that your students love your lectures best of all, despite your youtube with the sad, forlorn students who don’t like lecture. And the suggestion of “doing” without reading isn’t supportable in a true academic anthropology. I can’t imagine a development anthropology project in which someone is dropped into a country and works out the project without a lot of reading and training being in place. And I know you would agree. In fact, I believe you have at least one “rate my professor” that complains about having to read.

    And, all deeply theoretical arguments aside, some of us are firmly interpretive in our anthropological approaches and simulations might imply an anthropology which seeks a more scientific approach–one not supported by all of us. But I get the whole motivation angle, I really do. I do a hunter/gatherer game with my Archaeology class, stolen from one of my former profs. Its silly and great fun and it works as a motivating factor but it is not “the” way to teach the course.

    So, without taking anything away from your remarkable success, could you give those of us struggling alongside you a break. It seems some of your messages have become a bit polarizing. Lecture and reading are completely acceptable and successful pedagogical techniques–in fact, they are necessary. I feel sure you would agree that copying your simulation will not transform the student world. And, maybe, just maybe students should meet you halfway and close the computer and read a book or article every now and then.

    Thanks for the opportunity to dialog.


  10. Prof Wesch says:

    Hi Pam,
    I think you have made a fundamental misreading of my argument. I don’t argue that “doing” is *better* than reading or sitting in a lecture when it comes to learning. I’m making the simple point that students learn what they do, a philosophical insight borrowed from John Dewey. For example, when students read they are not just learning the content, they are also learning how to read in the way that they are reading. If they are reading in order to memorize a few bold words in a text, they are learning how to scan a text and memorize bold words – which is not really a very important skill. If they are quietly sitting in a lecture hall writing down just enough notes to answer questions on a multiple-choice exam, they are learning how to obey an authority telling them what they should be learning and then memorizing it. Again, not a very important skill. (These are just examples, I don’t know any professors that actually strive for this kind of teaching environment, though many do “give up” and create such an environment when dealing with huge classes.) The World Simulation is integrated into a class of reading and lecture. It brings *significance* to the readings and lectures, and students (as you have seen on Rate My Professors) *love* the readings and the lectures because they can see their significance in the real world (which the simulation helps to make clear), and they feel empowered (and responsible) to make real contributions to the class. The simulation actually frames a “research project” of sorts, based around the question, “How does the world work?” Students find their own readings to discover answers, often going above and beyond the assigned readings, a good sign that some authentic learning is occurring. The simulation itself is just 50-100 minutes of the entire semester, but it inspires a tremendous amount of intense, engaged learning through the traditional modes of reading and lecture. In short, far from opposing doing to reading/listening, I have simply created an environment for more engaged and authentic reading/listening/learning. (In teaching evaluations, students report that they read more and work much harder in this class than they do in their other classes.)

    There are many ways to create a rich learning environment, of course, the simulation just being one of them. The real key, to me, is teaching in a way that illustrates in an undeniable way the significance of the learning beyond the classroom walls, and inspiring students to *do* critical, productive, and creative thinking, so that they *learn* critical, productive, and creative thinking. The tech angle comes in simply because reading and writing today goes far beyond the printed word. To be effective global citizens, students need to be literate in multiple media, and understand the ever-changing landscape of media.

  11. Jeff says:

    I too would like to urge you to keep this video up. Or perhaps a downloadable version for those of us who would like to share with others down the road?

  12. Marlin says:

    I came across your student’s video about how they learn in classrooms about a year ago. So I have been watching several of your videos, presentations. I was drawn here by your referral to this simulation and wanted to watch it. I have always has an interest in simulation games (Risk when I was growing up and Civilization and others on the computer). As well as being a gamer I have taught history (American and world) in high school.

    Anyway, I was wondering if the results of the the simulation would be different if you introduced “technology”. I mean while the resources of the world are being used up, and many times in criminal ways — exploitation and genocide, there is hope for improved life in the world through technology. What if you somehow randomly introduced the idea of some new discovery that made some resource less needed or powerful. It would change the structure of the world.

    I admit I am a fan of the Gene Rodenberry utopianism that believes that technology will bring better and better times. Although I was fascinated that in Deep Space Nine they actually explored some of the ideas that even in a future world there was exploitation. But I do really believe that with each step of technology we have the chance to harness different and new “resources” and that with greater knowledge we might not end in the complete world war that your simulation projects, because it is a simulation based on continual limited resources.

    Just some thoughts.


    Marlin Bynum

    BTW — I am a public school teacher in an disciplinary alternative education program. I am in charge of the math curriculum.

  13. Prof Wesch says:

    Hi Marlin,
    We are definitely trying to integrate technology change into the simulation. We have never been entirely successful, but it is in making the effort that the learning is done.
    Thanks for the comment.

  14. Dan says:

    Prof Wesch,
    I had an opportunity to hear you speak in Madison Wisconsin a few years ago (WiscNet FTC). It was great, and I have followed your work ever since your early YouTube days. I wish I had the fortune to have met you when I was still a student (proper.) But I am thankful that some two decades later I still get to have a glimpse into your classroom as a lifelong learner and social media addict.
    Keep up the great work!

  15. Thank you, Prof Wesch! Thank you to all your students!

    I discovered your work one week ago and It was like a big Aha!, my eyes are red of seeing videos and my head is full of new names that I need to investigate, thanks!
    I have a private middle and high school in Buenos Aires, Argentina: Colegio Aula XXI. I founded it 20 years ago as an alternative school trying to interpret the kids needs at that moment, and at that moment the Howard Gardner´s multiple intelligences theory was very important as a guide to respect the different types of approaches to reality, the diverse ways to grab the knowledge student have, their emotional intelligence specially. We even invited Howard Gardner to lecture in Argentina. Now it is incorporated to our way of teaching, it became part of us.
    Many years passed, the reality changed so quickly, and I was feeling that the basic idea of the foundation of the school was vanishing : respect for our student´s intelligence, their culture. We integrated technology but it was like a visitor to our classes, we were using it but not as the kids used it. Since I saw your work, we had many, many talks and we began to plan how we are going to really integrate those new ways of learning. We have a new challenge and that is great.
    Best regards to all of you
    Veoh is not longer in Argentina, how can I see this video??

  16. Jerry Glisson says:

    It is ironic that the same people who think human exploitation for the benefit of another people is reprehensible also believe in the Theory of Evolution. If survival of the fittest is good enough for the nature of life, why not for cultures.

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