Tuesday, February 24, 2009

A Vision of Students Today (by Michael Wesch)

Dr. Michael Wesch is a cultural anthropologist at Kansas State University. His work in digital ethnography has gained national and international attention. The most visible project is his work on YouTube and a video entitled "A Vision of Students Today" that was a collaborative project with 200 of his students. According to YouTube, this video has been viewed close to 3 million times and certainly raised the visibility of Dr. Wesch's work. In fact, he was recently named the US Professor of the Year for Doctoral Universities by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and the Council for the Support and Advancement of Education.

The point of this blog post is to call your attention to the work of Dr. Wesch as I do feel it has a great deal of relevance in the current environment of higher education. After watching the video above, or visiting links to the Digital Ethnography project at Kansas State, I hope you will click "COMMENTS" below this post and give us your thoughts on this work and describe how it does or does not impact your teaching.

A VISION OF STUDENTS TODAY (also see above):
YouTube Video

Digital Ethnography Blog:
Visit Blog

Article written by Dr. Wesch at Academic Commons:
From Knowledgable to Knowledge-able: Learning in New Media Environments

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Want to Get Rid of Grades?

A recent article at Inside Higher Ed, entitled "Imagining College Without Grades," raises the issue of not assigning letter grades in college courses. The alternative would be Pass/Fail designations or narrative evaluations. This story reports on a workshop at an annual meeting of the Association of American Colleges and Universities. Indeed, this is a complicated issue that would require a shift in teaching and assessment. Below, I have listed a few pros and cons that proponents and opponents of this idea have put forth:

-students will have greater academic freedom to take a variety of courses
-students can focus on learning, instead of worrying about grades and scores
-in the pass/fail system, faculty will spend less time grading and more time with students

-the amount of faculty time it will take to write narrative evaluations, especially in large classes
-many scholarships, graduate/professional school and job applications require a GPA
-students may lose the motivation to learn the material

I am sure that you can think of more Pros and Cons of this approach. So, click COMMENTS below and share them with us!!