Wednesday, 12 May 2010

H800: Week 13 & 14 Activity A1a: A vision of students today

Mike Wesch's VideoA vision of students today

I have seen this video before – I think someone posted a link to it in a discussion forum back in Week 5, when we considered Wesch's other videos.

Personally I think the video is excellent, and I have previously emailed the link to several colleagues. I think it contains a very powerful message and is presented in a succinct way. It certainly has more impact in this format than it would in a purely text-based presentation.

The central message I take from the video is that students do engage with learning materials in different ways nowadays whether teachers like it or not. They have access to information from a much wider range of sources and they communicate using different networks. Teachers cannot ignore this, no matter how they might feel personally about it. Some exceptional teachers might be able to engage students using a traditional approach, but in my experience such teachers are actually quite rare. Prior to the widespread availability of ICTs students had little choice but to persevere with traditional learning approaches if they wanted to get through their courses, but nowadays they do have a choice.

I can relate quite strongly to the message of the video. I see students in my own lectures, and in those of colleagues who I observe. I notice that students might be in the lecture room, but they are not 'there'. They have their laptops, their iPhones and so on, and they can be anywhere. The messages from students in the video about buying text books that they never read, and about spending far more time reading Facebook than they do reading course materials also rang true for me.

Deep down, I don't think the attitudes of students have changed fundamentally. The environment of higher education has certainly changed (in the UK at least) so that it has become a mass system as opposed to an elite system. But students have always been reluctant to do anything more than they need to. The big difference is that we do now have these ICTs which provide an opportunity. As a teacher I think the challenge I have is how to harness the potential of the ICTs so that students can engage more effectively with the course. In my view I think the key is flexibility – i.e. that students are not constrained by lecture theatres, timetables, library opening hours, part time jobs and so on.

1 comment:

  1. Hi, Tony your point '(HE) has become a mass system as opposed to an elite system' is key, I think - and not only applicable to UK: in Spain in fact it would relate to HE and also to Secondary education.
    I don't believe, from what I see here at any rate, that there has been a serious attempt to accommodate different ways of learning/teaching in the wake of this increased number of what may be (as defined last week, Richardson et al) 'undesirable learners' . Rather, it seems that many teachers feel nostalgia for a 'golden age' when students were self-motivated individuals with a background in study. I don’t believe there ever was such a time, as you say students have always tried to avoid doing more than the minimum, but it is probably fair to say that with fewer and perhaps more ‘docile’ students teachers felt more in control. The challenge with IT is, I agree, how to harness its potential in order to engage students more fully and, I’d add, in a way that doesn’t alienate teachers or further ‘devalue’ the student in their eyes.