On Michael Wesch

This will seem kind of short compared to my last post, but I guess I just don’t have as much to say. I watched Michael Wesch’s speech (here and here), and though it was long, it was definitely worth my time. Every minute was fascinating, thought-provoking, and spot-on. He brings up an excellent point about modern education: it’s aimed to make people knowledgeable, but that’s no longer what really matters. Knowledge – that is, information – is everywhere now, and what’s important is not obtaining it, but learning how to filter it. Wesch brings up some excellent points about the implications this has for today’s learning environment.

The problem, of course, is that professors used to be the ultimate authority over knowledge, and obviously that’s how they would want this to stay; they don’t want to admit that information is everywhere. Plenty of people in academia loathe tools like Wikipedia, despite the fact that I’ve probably learned more there than I have in any of my classes, and possibly in all of my classes combined. So progress will probably be slow in changing the goal of education, but I have faith that eventually the right thing will be done, especially once the online generation starts taking control of the universities.

One minor point I think is odd is how much time students were said to waste in their classes going online. I have yet to attend a class where the professor allowed the use of laptops during lectures. Maybe it’s different at other colleges. Or maybe I just have yet to be in those classes.

No Responses to “On Michael Wesch”

  1. David Gurri says:

    Fair enough – after all, we talk about learning how to filter through information, but what isn’t clear is the specifics of how. There isn’t a clear and obvious way of doing it yet, so I can see why plenty of teachers don’t have any interest. Still, I think that, at least on a subconscious level, the idea of authority is a big barrier to discovering ways of doing it, especially in fields like math and science where facts aren’t really subjective. After all, they studied for years to know what they know, so to them it must seem ridiculous that any old fool posting stuff online could ever be as credible. But yeah, I’m sure there’s plenty of other factors too.

  2. Cheryl Colan says:

    The problem, of course, is that professors used to be the ultimate authority over knowledge, and obviously that’s how they would want this to stay; they don’t want to admit that information is everywhere.

    I have to disagree with you on that point, David. I’m an adjunct faculty and I know a lot of faculty as colleagues, coworkers, and friends. While I don’t doubt there are some professors out there that want to be the expert authority, most of us will admit to learning as much from our students as we teach them. Sometimes more. So I really don’t think that’s why things stay status quo.

    There are lots of other reasons. “I’m an English teacher, not a technologist or web designer,” is one I hear a lot. I think some faculty are resistant to learning something outside their area of interest or expertise. There are other reasons, mostly boring stuff. But please don’t assume we all want to be the ultimate authoritative source on our subjects.