Micheal Wesch: Knowledgeable to Knowledge-able reflection

Micheal Wesch delivered at keynote speech to UMW in 2011 entitled “Knowledgeable to Knowledge-able: New Learning Environments for New Media Environment.” He conveys how we need to have knowledge in “information literacy” then develop to “meta-media fluency” and ultimately “digital citizenship.” He defines “digital citizenship” as the capacity to use technology in order to collect, create, imagine, and make a better world in order to engage in society, politics, and government participation. Wesch introduces the idea that we need to introduce “digital citizenship” to the classroom and beyond in order to create relationships, engage students, and make a better world.

Wesch examines how technology can be used to create a community. While doing field work in New Guinea Wesch observed as the small village he was living in was overtaken by government and technology. The introduction of technology in the form of a census led to more distant relationships between the villagers. I can relate to this as our generation participates in arguments over twitter and other sources. For example, the other day Taylor Swift and Nicki Minaj got in a Twitter fight, over a misunderstood tweet, within minutes everyone was talking about it and it became a major headline. This shows how media mediates relationships. Media can also create relationships, like when a singer filmed himself conducting his new song and then asked others to post videos of themselves singing the song, he then produced a video of him directing 180 people from 12 different countries performing the same song. Another, more global example, of creating relationships is when Juan Mann, made a video of himself holding a sign saying “FREE HUGS.” Other people began holding signs and giving hugs. He then posted the video to YouTube and immediately received a million views this launched a global movement that led to thousands of events Worldwide. To date the video has 77,103,01377,103,014 views. These examples show how as media changes, relationships change.

Wesch wants to create a learning environment that engages students and challenges them to learn and develop. When his students answered the question of what the walls of the classroom say they had 6 responses: to learn is to acquire information, information is scarce, trust authority for good information, unauthorized information is beyond discussion, obey the authority, and follow along. I completely agree with these 6 responses, in the classroom we are not taught in a way that allows us to grasp the concepts. We are taught so that we remember it just long enough to reciprocate the information on an exam. Some of the best teachers I have had have challenged students to come up with the solution themselves and have had them discuss ideas with classmates. This is what Wesch does in his classroom by creating online dialogues and assignments that engage students with others and technology.

Wesch believes that “digital citizenship” can create a better world. He speaks about a man who dropped out of college in order to end poverty in Bangladesh. He creates YouTube videos and now has 300,000 Twitter followers. He connects people who want to help with people who need help, he provides them with the necessary tools and then he gets out of the way. He also talks about a website called Ushahidi, after the 2007 elections in Kenyan erupted in violence. They created a website that allowed people to post photos and post directly from their phones to show that people were okay or to ask questions. The pictures were all linked to a map to show where people were. This technology was used 3 years later when Haiti was hit. This exemplifies the power that technology holds.

In all I really enjoyed and agreed with Wesch’s keynote. I wonder how Wesch has continued to improve and evolve his lessons as technology has revolutionized over the years. I believe that we hold the power to change the world, the problem is that less than half the world has access to the internet, and the even bigger problem that Wesch states is that people don’t know how to create and read media, and that is what needs to change. We need to become “digital citizens.”


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