Learning to Be

In his address to the faculty in 2011, Mike Wesch attempts to demonstrate the need for media literacy in today’s day and age. He poses the question of how we move students from being “knowledgeable” to “knowledge-able.” In the almost two hours he talked, Wesch made many points about how we use media and how we could use media.

Wesch did research in Indonesia (about two years worth) and in that time he discovered some things about our culture. We assume our identity is what we bring to the table, so to speak. Wesch claims that identity is not what we project out, but what is projected back to us. He says that in his time in Indonesia, he learned that his identity was around him in the faces and conversations of those in the village he was at, not in he himself. This brought me to the question of how social media impacts our “identity” and whether who we think we are is who we are. Does Facebook know who we are better than we know ourselves?

Media is more than a tool or a mean of ommunication. Media mediates relationships and when the media change, so too does the relationship. Think about TV. We think that we are gaining information, when it is actually more entertainment than knowledge. We need to think more critically and filter through the material. Is this not the goal of higher education: thinking critically?

To think critically, we must be fluent in the media. It is important to move from being a bystander and viewing media as a distraction and turn towards participation. We need to take a step back and look at what this network of communication is now and what it could be if more students became fluent.

I feel this DS106 class attempts to rectify, at least in a small scale, the amount of illiterate students when it comes to online information. By learning and growing, by learning to be instead of simply learning to know, we can learn more about ourselves and how we fit into this digital age. We, by learning and becoming more fluent, can be knowledge-able, rather than knowledgeable.

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