if these walls could talk

Michael Wesch, creator of The Machine is Us/ing Us, has collaborated with 200 students in his Cultural Anthropology class to create a new video, A Vision of Students Today:

The video, set in a 60s- or 70s-era stadium-seating lecture hall, presents the technological and educational habits of the 200 or so students in his class. It highlights the fact that contemporary students are multitaskers, that they have disparate interests, that there is not enough time in the day, and that they learn by active engagement. They use Facebook, read barely 50% of the assigned readings, and some never crack a book. The vast majority don’t believe their teachers know their names. There is an interesting (though I’m not sure successful) causality argument taking place about the spaces of education, the amount of time students spend with their education, and the amount of time students spend using technology.

Also significant is the media used to present the message. Several writing spaces are employed: walls, chairs, notebook paper, Google Docs word processor, and a chalkboard (the latter of which is overlaid by a quotation heralding its invention, though the remaining footage seems to mock the space itself).

As an exercise for students, I can see the value of such an assignment: use multiple media to create a message about your experiences a student and individual in contemporary society. And I support the overarching theme: that the spaces in which learning occur in most university classrooms inhibit the kind of pedagogy that is effective with Student 2.0. It is an argument I make often. Yet, for some reason the video leaves me unsettled. Perhaps it is the passivity of the students’ messages. Perhaps it is the retread of some of the material from The Machine is Us/ing Us. Or, perhaps it is because there are no solutions offered. We know the complaints. What, students, are some of the solutions? Hopefully, we’ll see such a video from these talented students in the future.

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