Don’t Trust the Teacher!: Advice for/by Students

I wrote in an earlier blog called ‘Who’s Learning From Whom?‘ about my dismay over the years that the views and ideas of students are often not given the weight they deserve by their peers. That post shared a video with Catherine Shelley, a recent Deakin University graduate now working as an Event Producer, which signified the next stage of my quest to emphasise the importance of student contributions to unit content. I’ve included students in segments of my teaching videos in some form or another since I began making them in 2013, although this gets increasingly difficult when I teach fewer seminars directly and I can’t build enough of a rapport to get many students confidently standing in front of my camcorder. However, the ‘trust issue’ alluded to in the title of this blog takes on a different form than this…

Sometimes the last people students will listen to are teachers. I’m not actually being cynical or negative in saying this (you might not believe me, but that probably underlines my point even more, hehe). I’m also not advocating the mass dismissal of things that teachers have to say… obviously. But the truth is that if students did constantly heed teacher advice withough question, then everyone would show up to every seminar, read every reading set for them to read, and always start assignments long before the deadline. That said, these aren’t the kind of things that I’m concerned about in this post.

My key point here is that there is some advice that is best delivered to students by students. As the below podcast on gamification highlights, having students tell their peers what works and what doesn’t is often the best way to communicate the value of being active online and collaborating online…

I’m not sure whether the power of students articulating key messages stems from an unconscious perception by some that ‘well, the teacher gets paid to say that’ (technically, that’s actually true on one level), or whether it comes from the fact students just find their peers more relatable. Maybe it’s a bit of both; it doesn’t really matter. Most crucial is that when they are given a genuine and engaging opportunity to listen to each other, students trust students. Plain and simple.

I try to give a lot of space to student voices, though in the end it’s up to students to embrace the opportunities the online world gives them. As if to emphasise the importance of students giving advice to students even more, within a few of hours of uploading the above podcast and at the same time I was writing this blog, another student had created and shared a follow-up podcast of her own:

I’ve never felt compelled to justify myself as not being elitist; however, I imagine the early stages of the Talking Digital Media video playlist I’ve been developing over the past few years, which mostly incorporated guest lectures or interviews with other academics and industry practitioners, probably didn’t give the impression of something that was ‘open’ to student involvement. In early 2016, I filmed conversations with current PhD students on areas they knew more about than me, and not long afterwards it seemed clear that other students were the best people to speak to regarding the crucial themes of student agency, being motivated, learning by doing, showing initiative, getting experience, and working together online. This playlist would not be anywhere near as substantial as it now is without the generous assistance of students – and hopefully they’ve benefited in different ways from being involved too (getting ‘interviewed’ by a lecturer on camera is never the easiest thing to do).

I look forward to relying on students more often in future, as it should never be students who rely solely on me. And beyond these videos instigated by myself, what I will see transpire in future weeks is students taking the initiative to give more advice to each other in ways that I will often have nothing to do with – and might not even notice happening. That is exactly the kind of valuable community of interactions that teaching and learning with digital media can facilitate. As they tweet to each other, peer review blogs, and no doubt do other things that I never expected, students will learn from and with each other.

If you’d like to hear (and learn) more from past student experiences, you won’t regret checking out some of the below conversations… if you still trust me enough to believe that. Thanks to everyone who helped out with the below content:

The above video is available as a podcast here.

The above video is available as a podcast here.

The above video is available as a podcast here.

The above video is available as a podcast here.

The above video is available as a podcast here.

The above video is available as a podcast here.


Featured image: A weird guy, by Adam Brown.


3 Comments Add yours

  1. Reblogged this on hellotheinternet and commented:
    Getting active early, keeping your social media platforms up to date and giving yourself the best platform for success is key in engaging online

  2. ryjclay says:

    That guy in the floral shirt. – 10/10

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