[Update 1/30/08: See Wesch’s response to this video here and this post in the Chronicle of Higher Education Wired Campus blog.]

To mark Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday, here is a new video [YouTube | TeacherTube] (or a video response to Michael Wesch’s “A Vision of Students Today“) [transcript here]

(Re)Vision of Students Today collaborates with Michael Wesch’s Kansas State students, who, according to the megapopular video, used Google Docs to collaboratively edit a document, essentially conducting a survey and, presumably, designing the video itself.

Wesch’s students’ video offers itself as a glimpse of today’s students. However, unlike Wesch’s even more famous Web 2.0 video, “The Machine is Us/ing Us,” which seemed to both capture and promote an image of technoculture, this video offers itself as an image of contemporary students (not “KSU Students Today” or “American Students Today”) without reflecting on its own particularity, its own demographics.

Wesch 2.0

Following up on his highly played and first Web 2.0 video, Wesch focuses this video on how today’s students have changed with respect to their relationship to classroom technologies and technologies brought to the classroom (such as laptops, cell phones, and pens). In the video, Wesch uses superimposed quotations and other comments to make a point that seemed implicit in parts of “Us/ing,” that technologies offer new possibilities but do not completely eclipse or erase previous technologies. I’ve tried to make that clear in my previous YouTube reaction to Wesch (Web 2.0…We Respond To We/sch). In that case, Wesch used a highly mobile pencil. In this case, he juxtaposes contemporary technologies with that pre-eminent display technology — the blackboard.

Further, his students also become display media. Or rather, they show the ways in which they can us any surface, including the walls of the room, as sites of inscription, means of participation, directly contrasting the blank screens of their faces and their reports of less-than-full class participation.

While Wesch raises these tensions and some very valuable questions, his use of students’ images, of human bodies, instead of merely inscription technologies, introduces new issues that the video does not address, namely issues of identity: who are the collaborators, who are faces to represent students today. Overwhelmingly, they are white.

Now we have two pieces. We have representative students who have been brought into this exciting networked collaboration (made more enticing by Wesch’s deft use of screen capture), and we have the overdetermined image of their racial homogeneity which (most importantly) goes uncommented in the statistics in this course on digital ethnography.

My critique is not to suggest that the video needs to correspond to KSU or even Kansas demographics, which are much more white than Southern California. But I think this moment clarifies the ways in which discussions of new educational technologies can get so caught up in “the wired generation” or Generation Twitter, that it loses site of the continuing digital divide and that picks up the time-honored project of universalizing whiteness.

Having been Us/ed by the Machine

This video response attempts to use the ethos and technology of Wesch’s “Us/ing” video to question the very inclusiveness of that “Us.” Many of those commenting on the YouTube thread seem to see these students as the epitome of the U.S. “us.” Even one of the students in the video makes note of the student beside her who is absent from class. What of the student who is absent from the university?

This video uses YouTube (perhaps a Web 2.0) and Camtasia and Garage Band (not so Web 2.0). Mine is a kind of intervention that cannot be done very cheaply (since Mojiti was recently swallowd by Hulu), and it can certainly be done with more gloss by those on the film/video side of things. But sometimes the quick and dirty tagging on the wall communicates better than the museum piece.

So where does this leave this conversation? To what extent does the euphoria over networked culture take over in exclusive environs?

[see Wesch’s extended response to my remix and further discussion of Wesch’s video here.]

[Musical note: the song in the background is my homage to U2’s “MLK,” and the video is an homage MLK himself.]

11 Responses to “A (Re)Vision of Students Today: Remixing Wesch”

  1. 1 Wimpy Wilson

    I will admit that I had seen the previous video and found it interesting. conversely after having watched your (remix) I am as interested on your take.

  2. 2 Mark Marino

    Wimpy, I must admit that I thought you were spam. Conversely, I think we’re all spam.

  3. 3 Scott S. Floyd

    Would you consider uploading this video to TeacherTube so we can see it at the school level? YouTube is blocked for most public ed settings. Thanks.

    Great Mashup, and I am blogging on it right now.

  4. 4 Mark Marino

    Thanks, Scott, I’ve added a version of the video to TeachTube under the name “Re Visions of Students Today.” Here’s the link.

  5. 5 Rich Bronson

    Great video. I think it can really help students learn in the classroom, if YouTube was allowed in most classrooms that is.

  6. 6 Greg Jenkins


    I was first introduced to Michael Wesch’s video in a professional development meeting for Literacy Coaches working in low performing inner city high schools. I admit I am intrigued with the ideas in the video and plan on sharing it with my colleagues, but I also noticed the lack of people of color in the video, and that it was aimed more at college students than high school students. I would be interested to see the statistics for a school with a more racially balanced student body. Rather than reusing Professor Wesch’s students, have you considered conducting your own survey and making a video of the findings? Most of the students featured in the Kansas State video are unlike the students in my school, and I would like to see the same types of questions addressed to a more similar group.


  7. 7 Mark23

    Its awesome, I liked the video very much, it really help students to learn very fast, thanks for putting the video under TeachTube. Now we can see the video in the classroom

  8. 8 Used Laptop

    Everyone has different concepts of learning we remix them and gat new thoughts and ideas and that helps in keeping us upto date on things.

  9. 9 Rake girl

    I had seen the previous video and didn’t find it interesting at all!

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