Today I went to the Teaching & Learning With Technology Conference hosted by the Maricopa Community Colleges. It was great to see some folks that I have met at other conferences. However, the big thrill was the keynote speaker Dr. Michael Wesch. He is the guy who made the amazing YouTube video The Machine is Us/ing Us.
In his keynote, he started by highlighting his own culture shock as a anthropologist when travelled to the Papua New Guinea and then described the cultural revolution he observed that was brought on by a government census.
Then he talked about the cultural revolution we are currently in the middle of and how it relates to higher education. “The most significant problem in higher education is significance itself” was one of his assertions. He continued that the “problem in higher education is a cultural gap.” this point is highlighted by his YouTube video A Vision of Students Today this is also referred to as “if these walls could talk”
The crisis of significance is that students are the ones limiting their own learning with the question “will this be on the test?” Learning must transform from the acquisition of information into: discussing, challenging, critiquing, and creating information. We can not depend on the students to know how to leverage the new environment (technologies, etc.), we have to learn WITH them. We have to look at the students as a network of multiple relationships (see Metcalf’s Law) and not a one to one relationship of instructor to a group of students.
That keynote left me excited and with a reading list to go find and look into. I attended a session on Quality Matters which is a toolset of evaluating the design of online courses and I also was able to sit in on Dr. Wesch’s session where he talked about and demonstrated a course project from his cultural anthropology class, a World Simulation and the tools that were used to facilitate this course project.
The lunch speaker did a great job of profiling today’s K-12 students and really challenged the fact that today’s so called “digital natives” are not really digital natives. She used statistics of computers in the classroom from when high school seniors were in first grade versus today’s fourth graders and what they had in the first grade classroom and how the fourth grades can run circles around these seniors.
It was a great conference and as you can tell, I picked up some great ideas (you should see my notes).