Video Uses Student Voices to Explore New Directions in Education

Michael Wesch, an associate professor of cultural anthropology at Kansas State University, began “The Visions of Students Tomorrow” on January 18. It is a new video-collaboration project that he hopes will help generate a conversation about the “media-ated life” of many students. He wants not only to gain insights into how students interact with their dense and ever-changing media environment, but also to tackle the question of whether instructors have kept pace with it.

Mr. Wesch has been responsible for such popular video projects as “Web 2.0 … The Machine is Us/ing Us,” which has more than 11 million views on YouTube, and “A Vision of Students Today,” with more than four million views.

He wants “to hear from probably the most important voice in the question of where to go next with education, and that voice, of course, is the students themselves.”

To gather those voices, Mr. Wesch is soliciting videos from students, ranging in lengths from three seconds to three minutes. He hopes to collect a sufficient pool by February 15, and then to remix them into one video that represents a “summation of students’ experiences with their education today.”

The project will also help generate discussion about “whether or not the learning environments we are creating in the classroom are adequate and are a good match for the learning that needs to happen today,” he says.

The project has received support from several groups, including the MacArthur Digital Media and Learning Initiative and the Mozilla Foundation. Most of the funds will go towards helping start and maintain a Web site that will curate the remixed videos and describe resources on media literacy and better teaching practices.

“Are we teaching in a way that is going to create the types of students who can harness and leverage this new media environment, or are we failing our students?” Mr. Wesch asks.

The project is meant to serve as a combination of experimental video techniques and a message about education and learning. The remixed videos will use formats such as HTML5, which can link to information outside the video, including an interactive list of resources and contributors.

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