Saturday, January 16, 2010

A Vision of Students Today and The Machine Is Using Us

Please watch these two movies and give us your feedback in a comment. You will find space for your comment just below the blog post. We would be especially grateful if you would respond to these questions:
1. To what extent do you accept the implicit and/or explicit arguments of these two movies?
2. Are there any implications that you can identify for the College of Education and/or the courses you teach?
3. If we were to attempt to meet the future technological needs of our students, what assistance would you need?
4. Any other comments you would like to make.

Thank you!

Times are given in minutes and seconds

A Vision of Students Today by Michael Wesch 4:45

The Machine is Using Us(Final Version) by Michael Wesch 4:34

If you find these videos interesting, you would also find Dr. Wesch's 2008 presentation to the Library of Congress fascinating. It is 55:33 long, but it is well worth the hour you will invest in watching it. If you have the time, watch it as well.

Your comments would be appreciated on the videos you watch.


  1. This week's videos reiterate the message from videos viewed the last two weeks but with a greater emphasis on the students we teach at the university level. That message is, "teach us (deliver instruction) in the manner in which we communicate and learn." I had to laugh about the quote on the contribution the chalkboard has made to teaching and learning. But I want to cry when I see that so many instructors are still using it as a primary teaching tool. I believe that in on-line courses, the faculty is delivering instruction that is more in line with how adult students learn. Some of this has to do with the delivery system but another aspect is the fact that all students are required to take part in the class through discussions and working together in small groups. They cannot sit by quietly and not participate like they can in a face-to-face class.

    On a related note, today I observed a student teacher delivering a lesson on fractions to a class of 3rd graders. Fractions are typically a challenging topic when first introduced. However, the student teacher incorporated the use of student-generated manipulatives AND the Smartboard to represent parts of a whole. During the lesson, she asked students to select different fractions to make up a whole. She tested each suggestion by dragging the pieces on the Smartboard to demonstrate whether or not it equated to a whole. The students made many wrong suggestions but became increasingly determined to figure it out as they watched the parts add up to more than or less than the whole. The student teacher had to interrupt the lesson in order for students to go to P.E. and I actually saw third graders disappointed and not wanting to leave the math lesson! It was very exciting to observe firsthand the role technology played in this classroom.

    The only downside to this story is that the student teacher did not know how to operate the board until she was assigned to field experiences and learned it from the cooperating teacher. As a rule, student teachers are on the cutting edge and introducing new ideas to their cooperating teacher while they learn about the culture of the school and basic operating procedures from the classroom teacher.

    I believe this is one area in which the COE could better prepare our students and understand that we are headed in that direction with the installation of Smartboards in the UCOM.

  2. I recently viewed a recorded webinar delievered at an ASCD conference entitled "Death by Powerpoint." As I watched the first video and saw the comment about the chalkboard, I was reminded of that webinar. I think powerpoint has become the new chalkboard in many classrooms. The audience sits passively and listens to the teacher read diligently from the slides. I don't see a whole lot of difference in a chalkboard and powerpoint these days.

    In the webinar, the speaker talked about how students now "expect" teachers to use powerpoint, though, when asked, the majority of them don't like it. So, why do teachers continue to use powerpoint in an ineffective way? I think it's because it allows them to feel good that they are using "technlogy" in their instruction. Because they have powerpoint slides on a screen, they can say they have infused technolgy into their instruction.

    I feel the same way about how many teachers are now using SMART boards. I have been in classrooms where the SMART board is being used as nothing more than a glorified worksheet, and in other classrooms where it is being used as a valuable part of instruction where the students are actively involved in the lesson(just as in the example Karyn described in her comments).

    If we don't ask "What is the central purpose of our lesson or presentation?" and then create the delievery of it in a way that it "sticks" with our audience, what is the point? We all need to start with that question. The messages on the papers the students hold up in that first video tell us exactly why we must work harder to design instruction for today's students.

  3. Karyn,
    I agree and am glad we have a resource (Smartboard)to prepare our preservice teachers to integrate tech tools already in the classroom. I am especially excited about modeling the ability to respond to and understand visual arts with the interactive Smart tools!