A varied and sometimes erratic record of what I'm learning inside and outside of the classroom

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Reflections on the Journey Thus Far

Well, this has been quite the journey. When I signed up for the Digital Civilization course, I don't think I knew quite what I was getting into. (Translation: I really had no idea.) This class has proved a challenge for me, but I am making progress and have learned a lot so far.

First of all, I feel like my basic computer literacy has moved up a notch. I had no idea what bytes were or what programming meant or even what hardware and software were. Well, now I know; in fact, I've even been able to identify the problems my laptop has been having as hardware problems (which have led to software problems and little adventures such as the one described in my earlier post). Have I been able to fix them? No, I'm not there yet, but at least I have a basic idea what's going on so I can kind of understand what the computer geeks at the Apple store are telling me.

As I commented in class the other day, this course has made me constantly reevaluate my algorithms for learning. And I have come to the conclusion that one of the keys to managing the vast amount of information that I need to sift through for this course is to, if I may coin an acronym, Find Your Own Focus, or FYOF. :) As we have moved through the course content, drawing parallels between historical ideas and the digital revolution happening now, I have found most interesting the aspects that apply to me as a journal writer, book lover, an English major, and an aspiring editor. The OCR software I found through my research on print culture and Project Gutenberg was an exciting find because I had wondered about the possibility of computers translating handwriting to text because of my journals (see earlier post). I'm thinking my next post may be about exploring what the increasingly virtual economy might mean for me as an editor... which would probably be good to know, since that's where we seem to be going.

One of the most fun parts about this class has been connecting with other people and seeing how ideas have sparked off one another. As Kevin commented in his reflective post, a comment I made on his Printing Press=Internet Press? post sparked another post by him and more research and still other posts (on my discovery of OCR and Distributed Proofreaders) by me. The interconnectedness and continuance of the discussion outsider of class via digital means offers new and exciting methods of learning from our peers.

I've also enjoyed putting my new digital tools to use and showing them to other people who might find them useful as well. After learning about Google Docs in our Digital Literacy Lab Meetup last Thursday I immediately put it to use for assignments in a couple of my other classes; it has been especially helpful because my laptop has been touch and go, and with Google Docs I can easily access and edit documents because they're stored on the Internet and not my hard drive. Diigo has also been a delightful little tool in tracking my online research for my other classes. And after learning about Quizlet from Sarah Willis, I've used it to make flashcards for this class and other classes and recommended it to a girl I visit teach as well. It eliminates writer's cramp and saves time and trees. Everyone's happy. :)

So, while I still feel slightly overwhelmed sometimes, I am constantly learning and reevaluating, and by choosing to face the challenge of this class I feel I will come out better for it, and leave a much more digitally literate person. And even more than that, I feel like I am learning how to learn about technology and our digital culture, which I suspect will be an ongoing process even when I am no longer in this class. The journey never ends...

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