Seeking help with “A Vision” for tomorrow

To my delight, “A Vision of Students Today” is currently the most blogged about video in the blogosphere. I have read nearly every blog and comment posted about the video, and thought I would offer some of my responses here.

First off, it is remarkable to read all of the different interpretations of the video. Some have portrayed me as a luddite who thinks all technology in the classroom should be done away with, while others have suggested that I am a technophile who thinks technology is the answer. Others focus more on the words of the students, and suggest that whatever problems we may have in higher education can be blamed on them, the technology, or both.
To give a little bit more context to the piece, it might be useful to point out that it was originally created as Part 2 of a 3 part series on Higher Ed. Part 1 has been published as Information R/evolution. That piece tracks the way information creation, critique, and distribution has changed, ending with the question “Are we ready?” and the answer: “R U Feeling Lucky?” (altering Google’s I’m feeling lucky button). Placed back to back, this would then lead directly to the door opening to the empty classroom.

Part 3 is planned to be an exploration of different teaching technologies and the ways in which they shape the learning environment for better and for worse. It will begin where this video left off, with a chalkboard (which IS a teaching *technology*, though we often overlook it as such), progressing through PowerPoint, onto the web, SecondLife, etc.

I think many of the misinterpretations of the video are due to my attempts to frame the issues in a way that subtly suggests both luddite and technophile solutions as actual possible solutions.

The conclusion I hoped would be drawn from the video, has been most eloquently stated by Tim Bulkeley at SansBlogue:

More striking and visceral though, for me, was the opening of the video which sets the scene and poses the issue in an empty classroom! The environment in which we teach (onsite classes) is alien and sets up a model of information which is no longer true! Information is no longer scarce, no longer “out there”, no longer even ordered and organised the same way. It is not what we teach, it is how we are teaching that is the problem!

What teaching in the 21st century needs is not “better/more use of technology” – though that would be nice, nor (surely people do not actually believe this!?) students who are “as well educated as we were”, but simply new ways of doing and being. Many of our deep-rooted assumptions are enshrined in material forms, “class” rooms, whiteboards, “lecturers” and the like. So, what do we do to change how we are teaching?

I think Tim asks the right question here, though I would like to change it up a bit as I prepare to make “Part 3″ of this series on Higher Ed: What are we DOING to change how we are teaching? If you have any great examples of how you have changed up your classroom (or “classroom”) in ways that are more in tune with the information environment in which we all now exist, please comment. I am looking for examples that span all the possibilities – some of which I expect to be technology-focused, while others may not use any technology at all (my own project, the World Simulation, is very light on tech).

Thanks in advance to all those who can offer any examples.


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

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  1. October 20, 2007

    [...] Here’s the follow-up to the Kansas State University video that I posted earlier. [...]

  2. October 20, 2007

    [...] See his recent blog on current reactions to the video. Write a comment [...]

  3. November 1, 2007

    [...] Digital Ethnography wiki asks: What are we DOING to change how we are teaching? If you have any great examples of how you have changed up your classroom (or “classroom”) in ways that are more in tune with the information environment in which we all now exist, please comment. I am looking for examples that span all the possibilities [...]

  4. November 4, 2007

    [...] After watching this video, I would like to address some logical problems with a number of the opinions expressed by the students. I will mention first off, though, that I really like the way the creators/collaborators structured this short video. It is thought-provoking, and I really appreciate the conversation it is starting (or continuing) across the country, specifically regarding our educational system. I am grateful for anything that promotes healthy dialogue and discussion about all levels of education (public and private) within the United States. If anyone wants to read more about this video project and the professor who began it, you can find more info here. [...]

  5. November 5, 2007

    [...] Dr. Michael Wesch, instructor of the course, later added this post in response to the varied — and sometimes hostile — responses the video inspired. [...]

  6. November 27, 2007

    [...] The general conclusion that “education needs to change in broad terms” is relatively easy to grasp after watching this video, or many others similar to it. The most difficult question to answer, however, is “what do we do to change how we are teaching?” shared by Tim Bulkeley at SansBlogue and echoed by Michael Wesch. There are multiple answers to this question, but some of my main thoughts on this subject include the following: [...]

  7. January 4, 2008

    [...] • Michael Wesch responds to responses to his video “A Vision of Students Today.” [...]

  8. January 15, 2008

    [...] This comment, part of a discussion about higher education, is posted on Digital Ethnography. Digital Ethnography is a working group of Kansas State University students and faculty dedicated to exploring and extending the possibilities of digital ethnography. The context of Miss B’s remarks provide a fascinating glimpse into higher education from the viewpoint of students (A Vision of Students Today) and professors (Seeking help with “A Vision” for tomorrow). This is a must read for parents of college students or college-bound high school students and educators at all levels. [...]

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  11. June 17, 2014

    […] a better job editing the video and delivering my message. Perhaps it will all make more sense once Part 3 is complete and it is put together with Part 1 (Information R/evolution) as well. In the meantime, the […]