“A Vision of Students Today”

is the title to this video by Dr. Michael Wesch and the students of Introduction to Cultural Anthropology,  Class of Spring 2007 at Kansas State University:

which presents a question about how to effectively employ web technology in the classroom.

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Obamagogy

image via Consumerist, from MoveOn

“What we’ve been doing is trying to teach people to do what Obama does during his speeches — to tell their own stories to motivate others,” he says. “You’re building this sense of commitment to both the values and people, but you’re structuring it purposefully to achieve goals like, ‘In this district, we need 2,000 votes.'”

Via Wired on October 29, 2008:

Obama is the first to successfully integrate technology with a revamped model of political organization that stresses volunteer participation and feedback on a massive scale.

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The virtues of online learning

From the introduction to “Students’ evaluations of the use of e-learning in a collaborative project between two South African universities,” by Poul Rohleder, Vivienne Bozalek, Ronelle Carolissen, Brenda Leibowitz and Leslie Swartz, The International Journal of Higher Education and Educational Planning, 20 August 2007:

Amongst the claims and acclaims made about the virtues of e-learning, Johns (2003, p. 431) ascertains that they can be divided into five categories:

1. Material is made more accessible to learners who can log on at any time which suits them.

2. Web-based material offers the opportunity for learners to explore those areas of the work they find difficult to understand, spending as much time as they wish to with these materials.

3. Web-based material can provide bridges between theory and the world of practice through, for example, organisational sites of social service practice on the web.

4. Web-based learning offers more opportunities for active learning, where students would engage with materials rather than passively receiving knowledge from lecturers.

5. This type of learning offers opportunities for learning activities such as problem-solving and information-gathering skills, and, from a pedagogical perspective, being conducive to ‘‘deep learning’’ rather than ‘‘surface learning’’.1

And that’s not all:

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Maybe Nicholas Carr is part of the problem

On September 25, 2008, Nicholas Carr appeared on the Colbert Report to promote his new book.  In the interview, he speaks of an evolution of the Internet into a “worldwide computer,” and talks about the increase of people using the Internet as an online storage space instead of their individual computer.  Carr says that the Internet and Google are useful, but he also sees a problem due to how much the Internet is used.  Carr’s concern is that people are starting to think like the Internet. That we are ‘starting to act like the tools we use,’ and “think like a computer,” “jumping from piece of information to piece of information.”

Carr thinks that we are losing the ability to think deeply because of the Internet.  I find this laughable.

Carr believes that the Internet has caused people to lose the ability to stay focused on one thing, that we are losing our ability to concentrate, reflect, and contemplate.  He is concerned we are losing our ability to “slow down and think.” Carr suggests that “we’ve become so connected to everything, that we are actually disconnected from any one thing.”  He says he has noticed that when he reads a paper book, “something that used to come naturally,” he finds that his mind ‘starts to wander’ and wants to do what it does when he is online.

The Internet does allow us to quickly jump quickly between sources of information.  But this is not the same thing as the “superficial relationship with information” that Carr is afraid of.  The Internet permits the exact opposite of a “superficial relationship,” because it allows an individual to look beyond any one source of information, and produce their own connections between the material they find.  The investigation of related information is a form of deeper thinking.  It can be the contemplation of one subject, at a far deeper level.

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The “Real World” and the Internet

From the Pew Research Center on August 17, 2008:
Key News Audiences
The findings by the Pew study include this finding of an interesting type of behavior by Internet users:

A slim majority of Americans (51%) now say they check in on the news from time to time during the day, rather than get the news at regular times. This marks the first time since the question was first asked in 2002 that most Americans consider themselves “news grazers.”

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