Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Sensationalism in the world of technology and pedagogy?

The Chronicle's 2/12 article  "A Tech-Happy Professor Reboots After Hearing His Teaching Advice Isn't Working" sounds like big news - Professor Michael Wesch of Kansas State University, renowned for his innovative, student-centered, tech-integrated approach to teaching and learning, acknowledges that what he does with students is not working for his colleagues.

The article, especially the headline, infers that Wesch, somewhat of a teaching with web 2.0 technologies guru, is now rethinking (or renouncing?) his pro-technologies approach after learning it did not work for some of his colleagues. He's also been thoroughly inspired by the teaching of  a colleague, Chris Sorenson, who uses tech-free, good old fashioned lectures.

But the real story is much more nuanced than Wesch's supposed turn-around on whether technologies help students learn and professors teach. Some of that story is even more obvious in the Comments. Here's an excerpt of one from Wesch:

"Not everybody has to teach with technology, but it does need to be deeply embedded throughout the ecosystem we create on campus - and not because "that's what students want" or "that's where the students are." The surprising-to-most-people-fact is that students would prefer less technology in the classroom (especially *participatory* technologies that ask them to do something other than sit back and memorize material for a regurgitation exercise). I use wikis, blogs, twitter and other social media in the classroom not because our students use them, but because I am afraid that social media might be using them – that they are using social media blindly, without recognition of the new challenges and opportunities they might create. I use social media not only as an effective teaching tool that encourages participation, but also as a way to broaden the media literacy of our students. In this regard, we still have a great deal of work to do. We need to embed new media literacy more deeply into the curriculum so that it isn't just this "one crazy Anthropology class" (as I have heard my class fondly referred to by students) that showed them how they can effectively use these tools in ways they had not yet imagined, while also allowing them to see a little more clearly how these tools are using them, altering their habits, sensibilities, and values as well as the larger structural contexts in which they live."


1 comment:

  1. I agree with Wesch--if we are to be the teachers of the present/future, we need to help our students understand social media and its implications for, well, right now, everything.