Check out the latest blog forum at Brittanica Blog: Brave New Classroom 2.0.
Today features Michael Wesch (“A Vision of Students Today & What Teachers Must Do)”) and Mark Bauerlein (“Turned On, Plugged In, Online, & Dumb: Student Failure Despite the Techno Revolution”).
Wesch is a cultural anthropologist at Kansas State University who created the much-viewed Web 2.0…the machine is us/ing us video, and A vision of students today. Wesch asks the question “How did institutions designed for learning become so widely hated by people who love learning?’. He notes that some blame students, and many blame technology; but “Texting, web-surfing, and iPods are just new versions of passing notes in class, reading novels under the desk, and surreptitiously listening to Walkmans. They are not the problem.” The problem according to Wesch is that educators take “the walls” too seriously — the literal walls of the classroom, as well as disciplinary boundaries and other academic boundaries and definitions. His prescription is “to stop pretending that the walls separate us from the world, and begin working with students in the pursuit of answers to real and relevant questions.” Applying this idea to academic libraries, I think we have to stop worrying about being gatekeepers.
Bauerlein, author of The Dumbest Generation: How the Digital Age Stupefies Young Americans and Jeopardizes Our Future; Or, Don’t Trust Anyone Under 30 summarizes lots of studies to support his assertion that “No generation has experienced so many techno-enhancements and produced so little intellectual progress”. As far as I can tell, none of the studies he cites actually attempt to establish causation, and none of them really show that today’s students are “dumber” than previous generations. Bauelein’s conclusion is this piece is less inflammatory than his book title would suggest … here he merely claims that students continue to “fail” despite technology; in his book he seems to say students are failing because of technology.
Both Wesch and Bauerlein seem to imply that technology in and of itself is not the magic bullet for education (I agree). Wesch highlights the potential of technology, while Bauerlein simply points out the failures.