Is technology and new media changing the face of education?

I just watched the above video which is a presentation of Michael Wesch.  Michael is a professor from Kansas State University studying Anthropology. I remember seeing one of Michael’s presentations live at the University of Regina and being so amazed at what he knows about technology. Some of the things that Michael talks about in the above video are some of the things that he shared at that presentation that I attended.

In the video Michael talks about his own experience going to a very small community somewhere in New Guinea. The culture there was very different, the people ate spiders, spider eggs and snakes (Makes me feel sick just thinking about it). Michael stayed in a little hut with some of the people who lived in the village. He talked about the people solving conflicts as a community. When I saw Michael live, he talked about how each side of the story was listened to when a conflict arose and those people learned to talk things through to help the relationship. When the first form of media came to that community it was in the form of making maps and naming the people in that community. There were a few more changes that were made as well; the houses were rebuilt in a straight line in order to the numbering on the census and when a conflict arose it went to court. Michael was just sharing an example of how media changed that whole community. Michael made the statement that, “When we try to use media, media uses us. There is no opt out option. It changes everyone” (that’s probably not word for word but close to the idea).  

I remember after seeing Michael live I wondered about the community that had been changed from media. That community was quite happy and solved their own conflicts in a way that was beneficial to everyone. Once the conflicts started going to courts, families were torn apart because someone would win the case and the rest of the family would be on the other side. Media changed that community, but not in a positive way.

In the video Michael moved on to show a few slides of another video that he collaboratively made with his students. He shared that a lot of information that University Students are learning is not relevant to them and so they aren’t left asking questions, wanting to learn more.

To me media and technology is mesmerizing. I think back to my grandparents working the fields with a horse and a plow. They have seen so many changes. Back in their days they didn’t even have telephones, let alone cell phones and skype. Looking back through the years it’s so obvious that technology and media has totally changed everyone. There are so many people now that rely on their cell phones. People rely on computers and internet to run their businesses. If it weren’t for technology we wouldn’t have running water, electricity, vehicles or really anything that we take for granted every single day.

I believe technology and media is changing the face of education. Before internet teacher’s had to go to a library to get resources or buy them at a store. Now teacher’s can find resources online. Twitter, Diigo and Delicious are just a few sites that have made it easier for teachers to share resources. Youtube has all kinds of videos that can help teachers show information in more than one way to students. One day during my internship a student asked me a question that I did not know, to answer that question I turned to Google and got the answer after about two minutes. As teachers we don’t know everything in the world, but someone else in the world may know the answer to our question.

I believe that it’s our job to help students understand that technology helps us connect with others and through that connecting we can learn more. I believe that Michael is trying to send us that message through his presentation. What do you think?


About ashleymcdougall

I'm a candidate teacher finishing my last year of studies at the University of Regina. I'm focusing my studies on Early Childhood Education.
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