Reflections: Michael Wesch—A Cultural Anthropologist Looks at Digital Technology

Last night I was thrilled to have the opportunity to listen to an interview with Dr. Michael Wesch, Assistant Professor of Cultural Anthropology at Kansas State University, through Elluminate thanks to the wonderful Steve Hargadon and The Future of Education network. As many of you know, the work of Dr. Wesch and Wendy Drexler has inspired the design of my Media 21 Capstone project I am piloting this fall with English teacher Susan Lester here at Creekview High School.

In last night’s interview that lasted slightly over an hour, Dr. Wesch provided an overview of the framework and thought process behind his teaching methods and way of framing learning.   In addition, Dr. Wesch provided a brief but fascinating overview of his work as an anthropologist and his interest in digital ethnography. To me, his teaching methods are  truly grounded in the theory of connectivism and represent a 21st century model of learning in which students collaborate, construct knowledge through social interaction, and are immersed in multiple literacies, not just traditional forms of literacy.

While I am still processing last night’s conversation and plan to listen to it again in the next week or so, these thoughts stand out to me; these are idea I will be trying to unpack during the summer.

  • Advice for those starting with the Wesch model: “Why am I doing this?” and “Why is this important”–always be able to answer these questions effectively.  (echoes of Dr. Bob Fecho, University of Georgia)
  • A discussion about the difference between assessment and evaluation, one in which I’m still mucking about.
  • Learning by doing is very important in this kind of learning environment.
  • The “Knock Your  Head Off Idea” concept
  • Teaching as a subversive activity
  • Creative thinking encompasses critical thinking if done right”
  • Focus on creating a strong relationship w/ students so they are willing to go with you” (in response to my question, “What advice would you have for those just starting out with this model of teaching and learning?”)
  • Must have purpose and a connection for great learning environment”

Dr. Wesch also recommended these two books to help frame this paradigm:

If you missed last night’s interview or just want to revisit the interview, the recordings and chat log are now available at http://www.futureofeducation.com/forum/topics/michael-wesch-a-cultural .  You can learn more about Dr. Wesch at his website, http://ksuanth.weebly.com/wesch.html, and his blog, http://mediatedcultures.net/ksudigg/; you can also follow him on Twitter. I also recommend you check out his YouTube Channel and course NetVibes page. Last but not least, another interview with Dr. Wesch is available at this link.

You may also want to check out this resources to learn more about how Dr. Wesch runs his class:

Although I use social media on a daily basis, I have to confess to still being a bit awe-struck at having the opportunity to actually connect in real time with someone who has influenced my thinking so deeply the last six months.  Last night was truly a rich opportunity to enhance my existing understandings that underpin my Media 21 project.  I want to thank Steve Hargadon for hosting last night’s show and Dr. Wesch for graciously sharing his time with over 200 participants who sat in on the live broadcast.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s