Anthropology teacher uses videos to educate

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YouTube.com is one of the fastest-growing video-sharing Web sites in the world, and the popular site is now being used in the classroom.

In particular, K-State assistant professor of anthropology Michael Wesch collaborated with students to create a video for YouTube that has been viewed more than 1.5 million times.

Wesch said it began as a simple discussion about the future of students and ways to improve teaching and learning in the classroom.

“All I did to start it off was say, ‘Let’s reflect on teaching and learning today and how it can be better,'” he said. “That’s when they started generating ideas – that’s how it all got started.”

Wesch’s spring 2007 Intro to Cultural Anthropology class decided to create another video titled, “A Vision of Students Today.” The video, which is up for a YouTube Most Inspirational Video of 2007, features students in Wesch’s class describing their experience as a new generation of college students with different examples of today’s struggles.

Some of these challenges included high student expenses, large class sizes, busy schedules and lack of sleep.

These issues were addressed in “A Vision of Students Today,” which is just one of several videos that have been posted on YouTube by Wesch’s classes.

Wesch’s Digital Ethnography class created videos as student projects. The course is based around the exploration of effects on culture – specifically digital media – and last year, the students in Wesch’s class did semester-long research projects and created videos to highlight their results.

Wesch said students from the class were able to post them on YouTube, and some even received awards for their work.

Adam Bohannon, senior in anthropology, was a student in Wesch’s Digital Ethnography class. In the class, Bohannon decided to do research on self identity and media ecology.

“I was interested in how interacting on the Internet affects how we see ourselves as people,” he said.

Bohannon said he has several of his videos on YouTube, one of which has had nearly 4,000 views. Bohannon said the skills he learned in the course have helped him find and succeed at a job. He said he owes most of his knowledge of the subject to Wesch and his class.

“Dr. Wesch gives a lot of leeway – that’s what makes him such a wonderful teacher,” he said. “He understands that we live in a world now where we have all this access to information. Now that we have all these abilities to access this information, we need to learn how to use it, and Dr. Wesch realizes this.”

Wesch is encouraging teachers to use videos in the classroom, especially if they think videos might be beneficial to the class.

“The key is to not be afraid of it and that making videos has been the easiest it’s ever been,” Wesch said. “If they think video has a place in their curriculum, then they should pursue it.”

To view the video made by K-State anthropology students click below or go to:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dGCJ46vyR9o

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