As the official first post of the HubPages blog, I figured that I would throw out some thoughts that I have been talking to a few people about the past couple weeks or so. These thoughts in particular revolve around the ways that students are taught in schools, specifically college, how it hasn’t changed in the last hundred years or so and how HubPages can possibly help the situation get just a little bit better.
Yeah, I know that it’s a random subject, but it was something that I never really thought about until one of my friends and past co-workers, Mitch Maxson, emailed me a link to this YouTube video. This video was put together by a man named Mike Wesch who is a professor of Cultural Anthropology and Digital Ethnography at Kansas State University and he has become one of the huge supporters of changing the way that we currently teach students. Without going too much into it, he strongly believes that we need to better teach students how to utilize social technology and the information that it can provide us in a way that better prepares them for a very information rich world. So, as opposed to students all sitting in a packed classroom where they are only listening to and learning from a single professor, they should be collaborating with each other and using the information and platform that the web provides to learn more and to create more. He has done an amazing job evangelizing this idea and he really got me thinking how HubPages could potentially help out these up-and-coming students, too.
Seeing as our goal here at HubPages is to be the best possible place for people to write on the web, I got to thinking about the ways that I used to write papers in college, which usually went something like this:
- Pick a topic that’s assigned by the professor
- Do research online and figure out what I’m going to write
- Type out the paper into Microsoft Word(pure text) and cite all of my sources that I found online
- Either email my paper as an attachment to my professor or print it and turn it in(this is really crazy)
- The professor grades it, I move on to the next assignment and the paper that I spent so much time writing has been seen by one person, giving it a potential audience of exactly 1.
I’m not sure if you see the same same things that I do, but after reading through this list there are definitely a few things that I find a little backward and extremely limiting about this current process.
- The paper is written purely in plain text. Now don’t get me wrong, there is nothing with writing in pure text, but I would think that adding in some more engaging elements that are found on HubPages such as video, images and linking would add much more relevance to the subject at hand. By not having the ability to bring in all of these elements that are so easily found and so commonly used on the Web today, we are limiting the ability for students to learn how to utilize them in an educational and informative way.
- The content’s potential audience is only one person. Wow, all of that hard work and the maximum audience that this content will ever see is one person, the professor. Why sell our student’s work so short? Why not allow that research paper on cancer to potentially get read by other people around the world who are seeking that information? It just seems limiting to keep students thinking solely about whether or not their professor liked it – why not use a platform such as HubPages and potentially let the world read it as well?
- No opportunity for revenue from the original content. I know, I know, these are college researcher papers that we’re talking about, but we are also talking about originally created content that could potentially help a college student buy a couple of those expensive books next semester. There are writers on HubPages that make some good money writing just a handful of Hubs a month and who’s to say that some of those student-generated papers couldn’t do the same? We’re living in a content-driven Web economy and just think about how much potential revenue-generating content is produced by college students each year and is still sitting on a laptop somewhere, never to be read again.
To wrap this up, I’m trying to get the point across that I agree with Professor Wesch in the fact that I think students need to be better educated on how to not only be able to create content on their own, but they also need to become familiar with how to organize, collaborate and create content with the incredible amount of information that’s already out there and available for us all to use. Maybe adding a required HubPages assignment to the syllabus here and there might just help the cause? Hopefully I can get in touch with a few professors and get their thoughts on the whole thing…and then maybe I’ll even write a research paper on it.