Michael Wesch, Ph.D., cultural anthropologist and education advocate, detailed his vision and philosophy about learning in the digital age of technology as the keynote speaker for the Islander Forum at the Performing Arts Center at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi on Tuesday.
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The inaugural Islander Forum exposed professors and instructors to new methods and seminars to help students become innovated for success. Audience members attending the keynote speech were intrigued by Wesch’s approach to teaching and methods of collaboration of technology and relationships through this new digital age.
As detailed in his topic, “The World Remixed: Learning in the Digital Age,” Wesch explains that we are in a modern age transitioning from “the end of wonder” and into the “age of whatever.” Wesch explains that students need to transition back to the era of “wonder” where questions are the path to quest, inspiration and discovery.
Wesch targets the ever-changing technology in the classroom, such as social media and Wi-Fi, as one of the contributing reasons why students are neglected to engage in asking inspiring questions in the classroom environment. This reasoning is made because of certain structures that are set in place that restrain students from expanding their wonders of the world.
“Powerpoint presentations are structured in a way so that the presenter can better understand the concepts of the material over the learner,” Wesch said. These structured presentations are more for the presenter rather than the students. With Wesch’s philosophy of collaboration in the classroom, learning through digital technology can allow students to become more engaged with the material and have a stronger interest in it. It is not always the case that the students have the same interest as their instructors thus their engagement into the class and into the concepts are not the same.
Part of Wesch’s ideology of “wonder” is partly derived from his doctoral research in New Guinea. Over a period of eight years, he lived in conditions where no electricity or running water was available. He recalls the restless nights where he would sleep in his bed and refer to his sleeping bag as his “little America.” Day and night, he began losing a sense of himself. He calls this stage “wonderfully terrible,” and “a freedom to experience the world.”
He states that we are in an “age of whatever,” where the meaning of the word has evolved from, “Whatever, that’s what I meant.” Transitioning to the future of the word, “do whatever it takes.” He wants to bridge the gap between “whatever” and “wonder.”
Wesch shares his ideas so that other professors and instructors can follow his methods of engaging the students to follow in a collaborated effort through digital technology.
One effective way, Wesch states, to unite students through media technology is by allowing mediums such as iPads, iPhones, Kindle Fire and other technologies to unite the students to the content of the class. If Wesch’s concept holds true, integrating technology in teaching allows students to achieve new interventions for success.
-Richard Ochoa, Reporter (firstname.lastname@example.org)