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

Friday, November 12, 2010

Reflections: Round 2

© Copyright David Maclennan and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence
It's interesting to look back and see how far I've come and the areas I still need to improve in in this class. Sometimes I still feel a little overwhelmed with the nature and volume of everything I need to do and fitting that all in the time I have to do it, but freak-out sessions are becoming fewer and far-between. I've learned to focus my learning more and not worry so much about all the content I can't cover in my blog posts. I still feel like I come to class every day and learn something that blows my mind. This is a good thing. I still feel like I'm digitally illiterate, but though I don't have all the digital skills I would like at this point, I feel that I know better how to acquire them. I still feel like I need to improve in every area--blog posts, self-directed learning, commenting, digital literacy labs, and so on--but I am definitely better at managing these things than I was before. It's a continual process, and I am trying to be patient with myself and remember that I can't make everything perfect all at once. So, that said, I've evaluated myself in the three areas listed below.
  1. Historical Content: I do my best to hit every historical period within the week it is assigned with a post on my blog; frequency has been a bit of a challenge over this evaluation period due both to some trying personal circumstances and the fact that I've been without a computer for the past month (I can hear your gasp of horror). I've been using the ones at the library and/or borrowing from other people, but I FINALLY got down to the computer rental place this week and now have a laptop, even if it is an older PC and extremely slow. Oh Mac, I miss you--how far I have fallen. Anyway, through my own research, reading my classmates' blogs, and going to class, I feel that I have a pretty good sense of the ideas and events that constitute each period we cover. I have also been able to make connections to the material we are covering in my other classes and use what I've learned to increase my understanding--for example, I'm writing a paper on Romanticism (see my post on the subject) right now, and I have a much better idea of what I'm doing due to what we covered in this class.
  2. Computing Concepts & Digital Culture: I think due in large part to Dr. Zappala's ability to explain computer concepts effectively to non-computer science majors, I now have some basic knowledge of important concepts to understand for the average computer user (for example, the importance of password diversification) and can now have an intelligent conversation with those who have always known more about computers than me (i.e. my younger brother who likes to ask such things as Stump-the-Ariel questions, but will now be foiled in his attempts). This knowledge has also come in handy in the ongoing quest to get my computer fixed before the semester is over.
  3. Self-Directed Learning: I still sometimes have a problem with the wild horse of Consume running away with me, but I have come to realize that part of the beauty of this class is that I don't have to cover everything by myself; I focus on one or two things in my blog post, and then I learn about all the other things my classmates have done by reading their blog posts and listening to the discussion in class. Hey--it's like Adam Smith's invisible hand; I do what is my self-interest, producing what I can do most effectively, and by all my classmates doing the same thing and trading information, we all come out better off than we were before. And economics isn't even my best subject. Nice. And I have learned to focus my consuming better because I've gotten a better feel for the strengths of my classmates and can draw on their knowledge; Jeff Whitlock is quite the economics whiz, for example, and his post helped me to better understand Keynes idea of the government spending multiplier. However, commenting on my peers' blogs could use some improvement, as could digital literacy labs, although I do know what kinds of things I want to do (Twitter, connecting my blog to Facebook, Wordle, etc.) and have explored a few things that I have not yet reported on (new web browsers, Goodreads, and blog search).

Honestly, I feel that this class has revolutionized my approach as a student. Like I told Dr. Burton in my interview for his other class, I've had to change my thinking; Digital Civilization has figuratively dragged me out of my little learning box by stretching and challenging me in ways I've never been challenged before, and once I stopped fighting it and learned to roll with the punches, I could stand up and realize that the view is actually a lot better out here. (Please excuse the mixed metaphors.) For example, I had a huge epiphany last week about social discovery--lights going on, bells ringing, sparks flying, etc.--when I realized that our learning becomes more meaningful and significant when it is part of a larger discourse between people, whether by digital or other means. Knowledge does little good in isolation. This realization has motivated me to seek after ways to connect with people not just in my classes, but in general, to share what I know and to learn from them as well. I still have a long way to go to take advantage of all this class has to offer, but I am pressing forward, and enjoying the view along the way. Onward and upward!

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