Objects of Interest

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A blog about Social Learning, Instructional Design, Curriculum Development and Trends in Online Learning. 

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Michael Wesch, Cultural Anthropologist, Researcher in Digital Ethnography, and Associate Professor, Kansas State University, was one of the keynote speakers at the Campus Technology Conference this week. The title of his presentation was, "From Knowledgeable to Knowledge-Able: New Learning Environments for New Media Environments." There were a lot of thought provoking questions in the presentation. I am summarizing my notes here. 

  • What do we need to learn?
  • Who do we need to be as we prepare for whatever is coming next?
  • Who were we? Who are we? Who do we need to be?
  • Who are students today and who do they need to become?

As was evidenced in many of the videos he has created, students like learning but not the institutions we have created for them.


Digital artifacts are everywhere; even in the air ;-). We are sharing information and knowledge all of the time - shouldn't we be teaching (letting) students do the same? Literacies in today's world include connecting, organizing, sharing, collaborating. It is important to understand how to use the tools and software available to us, but we also need to recognize how the tools are using (and changing) us.


Media are not just tools, not just a means of communication; media is shaping many aspects of our lives and how we connect with one another.  As Media changes, our relationships change, and, our culture changes. Students today need to have different literacies than they did in the past; skills on how to find content, sort it, organize it, and criticize it. They need to be taught how to be critical thinkers! 


Web 2.0 is linking people not just information. We are using and sharing information in new ways:

  • User-generated content
  • User-generated filtering
  • User-generated organization 
  • User-generated distribution 
  • User-generated ratings

What is it like being a student today? (My thought - What COULD it be like being a student today?)

That is not happening in many schools. We can see this in the spaces we design:

  • What the walls say (classroom spaces) 
  • To learn is to acquire information 
  • Information is scarce 
  • Trust authority for good information 
  • Authorized information is beyond discussion 
  • Obey the authority 
  • Follow along

The web can enable individuals to find their voice and contribute in meaningful ways. We are seeing this all the time with citizen journalists and citizen media, which is often unleashed when regular media collapses.

Things to think about in a web-enabled world:

  • Knowledge-ablity 
  • Communication 
  • Thoughtfulness 
  • Empathy

As people, we search for meaning and significance. If we can unlock the creativity in our students, we can help them become meaning makers. Isn't that what education is really about?

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