Considering Academia 2.0, Writing, & the Community College
“It’s not about timing. It’s not about keeping it short. It’s about relevance.” –Mike Wesch, Assistant Professor of Cultural Anthropology, Kansas State University
Wesch is right. Information is not scarce. But even in an information age, knowledge making can be. Writing is more than a container for knowledge; it can help processing, development and production of new knowledge. For this reason, writing to learn and examining expression might present an attractive study for college students. Students crave forums for expression; they want to be heard. Learning information alongside learning to persuade is powerful and rewarding. Personal purpose and goals make information relevant, but understanding that we have to talk to one another within different social structures is some of what rhetoric and writing provides in its educational long-term.
If we accept the Academic 2.0 argument about the importance of teaching the “how” and not merely the “what” of information, we embrace the importance of writing and rhetorical studies. We can then work to implement communication activities beyond the lecture and can accept communication’s interdisciplinary habits in addition to its residing within the domain of the English department.
That said, community college students often face a wider digital divide than assumed under Web 2.0 arguments. It’s incorrect to assume all students have been naturalized to blogs, wikis, mashups, or mobile networks. This is not to say community colleges give up. The opportunities to write and research with these technologies are likely to accelerate, and ignoring the latest developments because not everyone knows them will only widen the technological divide. However, it is important to acknowledge what many (considering that the majority of students in the country are community college students perhaps I should say “the majority of”) freshmen are not digital natives. And if their professors must immigrate to the digital too, there is a tendency to go with what is most comfortable: chalk and talk, lecture and note take, and read/discuss.
While I see nothing wrong with these classroom approaches in general, academia needs to consider seriously Wesch’s earlier observation that The Machine is Us/ing Us, for our media platforms rewrite how we compose and make language (and therefore knowledge).
Or as one of the comments under the Academia 2.0 video says,
Academia is dead! learning can be done faster and better outside of universities, renting an office space and committing yourself to learning a subject has far less distractions...
Community colleges’ missions center on learning and job training, so I say, Why not put the media machine into the curriculum? It’s influencing how people gather information and make personal, civic, and business decisions. Academica can become more relevant if entry points to the network are practiced in and outside the classroom.
So blog on…