A Vision of Students Today


Professor Michael Wesch has published yet another excellent video, looking at some of the most important characteristics of students today. In particular, how they learn, what they need to learn, their goals, hopes, dreams, what their lives will be like, and what kinds of changes they will experience in their lifetime. The video is a follow up to the amazing The machine is using us.

As a recent MBA student this video struck a deep chord within me. I strongly feel that Universities and Colleges need to work harder and smarter in their efforts at “blended learning” in a Web 2.0 world. It is true that we all learn and absorb information in different ways. However, the evolution of multimedia is allowing us all to learn things quicker and faster.

The growing number of foreign students (where English, may not be their first language) and distance learners are likely to derive many benefits from course content that is made available through podcasts or vodcasts. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not writing off the written word. But, in a rapidly developing digital world the appetite of younger students who have been brought up with iPods and YouTube videos will need something “stronger” than course text books to assimilate information. Web 2.0 technologies can help here.

I’m not alone in thinking Universities will need to change. I recently attended the Future of Web Apps conference in London. Paul Graham from Y Combinator delivered a presentation on The future of Web Startups. Among many areas, Paul discusses how he perceives the roles of University colleges will change in the future in relation to Web startups

8. College Will Change

“I grew up in a time where college degrees seemed really important, so I’m alarmed to be saying things like this, but there’s nothing magical about a degree. There’s nothing that magically changes after you take that last exam. The importance of degrees is due solely to the administrative needs of large organisations. These can certainly affect your life—it’s hard to get into grad school, or to get a work visa in the US, without an undergraduate degree—but tests like this will matter less and less.

As well as mattering less whether students get degrees, it will also start to matter less where they go to college. In a startup you’re judged by users, and they don’t care where you went to college. So in a world of startups, elite universities will play less of a role as gatekeepers. In the US it’s a national scandal how easily children of rich parents game college admissions. But the way this problem ultimately gets solved may not be by reforming the universities but by going around them. We in the technology world are used to that sort of solution: you don’t beat the incumbents; you redefine the problem to make them irrelevant.

The greatest value of universities is not the brand name or perhaps even the classes so much as the people you meet. If it becomes common to start a startup after college, students may start trying to maximize this. Instead of focusing on getting internships at companies they want to work for, they may start to focus on working with other students they want as cofounders.What students do in their classes will change too. Instead of trying to get good grades to impress future employers, students will try to learn things. We’re talking about some pretty dramatic changes here”.

Meredith Farkas has also published a very interesting presentation on the role of Social Software in Higher Education – a librarian that “get’s it”


I do hope that Universities focus less on their obsessions in raising student numbers (especially with foreign students). Rather, I hope they concentrate on producing and delivering digital course content that students can easily engage in. Though, for some teaching staff this could be a huge culture shock.

“Our students have changed radically. Today’s students are no longer the people our educational system was designed to teach”.

Mark Prensky, Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants

The machine is really teaching us…

Hugh Macleod’s talk at Mix ’07

Hugh’s MacLeod’s great talk at Microsoft’s Mix ’07. Hugh discusses the Blue Monster, his work with Stormhoek and his views on Web 2.0 Marketing, social objects (Web symbolism) and the power of blogging.

Chasing Leopard

The latest incarnation of Mac OS X, codenamed Leopard arrives next week. Almost a year after the launch of Windows Vista. As an operating system freak I am truly excited about this release. OS X is becoming more refined with each new release. Though, I do think Apple is pushing it’s luck a little with the promise off 300+ features. Many of the new ‘features’ were already available in xcode!

Pre-order you copy from the Apple Store now!

Diggnation #118 Live in London

Kevin, Jas and Alex

Diggnation finally made to London after 117 episodes! The live recording took place after Day 1 of the Future of Web Apps Conference. The atmosphere in the main hall was amazing! Anyway, check out Diggnation #118 Live in London below:

WordPress 2.3 and Windows Live Writer Support

Windows Live Writer (WLW) uses an XML manifest file to determine what features a blog supports. By default it does a good job supporting WordPress without a manifest file, but that doesn’t include support to mt_keywords (tagging) in XML-RPC methods. The included manifest file turns on tagging support in WLW.

  1. Grab the Latest version of Windows Live Writer.
  2. Now Download the File wlwmanifest.zip from WordPress Trac.
  3. Unzip and upload all the included files with directories into your blog Root Directory (Using any FTP program).
  4. Update or Add your Blog on the Windows Live Writer Accounts.

Then navigate through the tree until you get to HKCUSoftwareMicrosoftWindows LiveWriterWeblogs{blog-id}UserOptionOverrides where “blog-id” will be a long string of characters that refers to your blog.

For example, the entire string on my system looks like this: HKEY_CURRENT_USERSoftwareMicrosoftWindows LiveWriterWeblogs5b086434-14cc-4e6f-836d-c80ebdc69f25UserOptionOverrides.

Under the UserOptionOverrides you need to add a new string value called “supportsKeywords” and it should have a value of “Yes”.

OK, now launch WLW and click the little chevrons on the bottom to the right of “set publish date”.You’ll see a new entry called “Keywords”. You add your WordPress 2.3 tags here, all separated by a comma

Startup Life

Interesting stuff coming soon! In the mean time, enjoy the video