Live Online Conversation Class with Michael Wesch on WizIQ
World Renown Educator and Keynote Speaker
“Michael Lee Wesch is associate professor of cultural anthropology at Kansas State University. Wesch’s work also includes media ecology and the emerging field of digital ethnography, where he studies the effect of new media on human interaction” (Wikipedia). Today, Professor Wesch is one of the most sought after keynote speakers in the world. It all started with a class of students who conducted a research study on digital ethnography on Youtube videos.
Keynote Speaker at EdMedia Conference in Denver
I gave two workshops at EdMedia in Denver on Moodle and WizIQ on June 27 and June 28, 2012. On June 28, just before my afternoon workshop, I had the honor of meeting Michael Wesch. I approached Mike and introduced myself as one of his Facebook friends. I was sure he would not know me because most of us befriend complete strangers on Facebook. To my surprise, Michael not only knew me, but moved the conversation on me. He mentioned the work that I do and how he admires me for what I do. That’s when I realized that my online hero was bigger than life. He had a heart of gold. He placed the person in front of him before himself.
Students at the Center
Michael is an educator who places his students first and his position as a teacher second. I know that many teachers would love to do the same and enable students to have the freedom to learn. However, from my conversation with teachers at the EdMedia conference in Denver and around the world, most are worried about losing their teaching job if give their students the freedom to learn and learn by teaching or what I call active learning.
Freedom to Learn
When Michael Wesch began speaking about the work he does with his students, I began to envy the man. His students had the freedom to learn. He allowed his students to be active learner. Generally, teachers do most of the learning because they plan the course syllabus, do the research and add the reading lists and resources, and do most of the speaking in class. In Michael’s classes, the students do the work. Michael is able to let go of his power as a university professor and place his students at the center. His students are the teachers in his classes. Many teachers only let go in secrecy so that the school does not call them lazy or tell them to do their job. The teachers job is to teach. Teachers get paid for instructing and students pay to hear their teachers speak. That’s how the system works, or doesn’t work.
“The End of Wonder in the Age of Whatever”
I sat in the front row of the auditorium gazing up at the stage where Michael walked and talked about vulnerabiltiy and “The End of Wonder in the Age of Whatever”. The people in the auditorium were laughing, crying for joy, and inspired as the speaker spoke about his experiences in Papau and how being away from our comfort zones brings creativity and vulnerability that is so human. Michael spoke said that “It is not enough to merely deliver information in traditional fashion to make our students “knowledgeable.” Nor is it enough to give them the skills to learn, making them “knowledge-able.” Knowledge and skills are necessary, but not sufficient. What is needed more than ever is to inspire our students to wonder, to nurture their appetite for curiosity, exploration, and contemplation, to help them attain an insatiable appetite to ask and pursue big, authentic, and relevant questions, so that they can harness and leverage the bounty of possibility all around us and rediscover the “end” or purpose of wonder, and stave off the historical end of wonder” (abstract for EdMedia, June 29, 2012).
Keynote Presentation at EdMedia
The World is on Fire
Learn how the social media is making a difference in the world. “There are layers and layers of creativity happening” in the world, today via music and the social media. Michael Wesch is a speaker for social change in the classroom. In the Ted Talk video he shows us how wonderful the world is, today, because people are able to unite and save lives. So many success stories in what’s possible outside the classroom. We should enable our students to “share, collaborate, and publish” and not just to study for tests.
State of Wonder
Michael speaks of the state wonder in the classroom where students should come up with questions rather than knowledge and answering the teacher’s questions. He distinguishes between “knowledge and knowledge-able” students in today’s world. According to Michael, our students should be dealing with real problems that even the teachers have no answers to. We should be raising wonder and curiosity in our students and not forcing them to search for answers that are already there.