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

Friday, December 17, 2010

A Final Look Back on Digital Civilization

Wow--what does one say after a semester such as this? Looking back, I've learned so much from this class, both in terms of content and in terms of my classmates themselves, and I know that the principles I have learned here will shape my future as a student and as a citizen of the digital age. So, as a farewell to Digital Civilization, I present the semester in review in the three content areas we focused on in this class. These are the posts I'm most proud of that I feel met the learning outcomes the best.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Sad Day

Photo credit: jaliyaj
So I have to admit, I've kinda been avoiding the blogosphere lately. Why? I guess it's because I don't like going back to places where I know everything has changed and nothing is going to be the same anymore. It kind of depresses me. I am really going to miss this class--I feel like I learned something new every single day and was challenged in ways I've never been challenged before. But more than that, I will miss the people. My classmates (and my professors as well) are such a vibrant, intelligent, diverse, and talented group of individuals, and I will be sorry to lose the interaction I have enjoyed with them all semester long. Good luck to everyone--I am honored to have been a part of our journey together.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

As Promised...

THE Stick of Power and Glory
It's the moment you've all been waiting for!! No, not the Digital Civilization event. And no, not the end of finals or Christmas either. It's the OTHER moment you've all been waiting for! Announcing...the unveiling of my paper on Brian Regan!! Ta-daa! Please, enjoy.

Linguistic Elements in the Humor of Brian Regan

This was fun to write, but admittedly not as well done as some of the other things I've written. Speaking of which, while I have your attention, I would really love some feedback on another paper I wrote awhile ago--I consider it the crowning achievement of my freshman year. :) I've been thinking about perhaps getting it published somehow, and would appreciate some suggestions as to where and how to do so.

This paper, explicating my Theory of Inherent Attraction, was done for an assignment in my freshman Honors writing class; we had to sell an intrinsically worthless item on eBay, basically off the power of our writing alone. I chose a stick. Mine was the highest-selling item in my class ($9) and the paper accompanying it received an A. I'd love to hear what you think.

Theory of Inherent Attraction

P.S. I've never met anyone who has refuted my Theory yet. :)

Come One, Come All...Making Connections

I think I'm actually getting better at this whole "Connect" thing; maybe it's a sign that I'm becoming more socially competent! Anyway, I've been a little surprised at how easy it has been to invite people to our big event on Thursday night and how much interest people have shown so far. (Not that I doubted the collective awesomeness of my Digital Civilization class; I just had less confidence in my own abilities to spread the word.) I have found that if you are passionate and excited about something, it is easier for other people to get excited too. Here are some of the things I've done to spread the word and share the love.

  1. I asked Dr. Burton if I could make a pitch to the other class I'm taking from him, which I have on the same day as Digital Civilization. We've been using the same learning objectives of Consume, Create, and Connect in that class, which made it a little easier for me to customize my approach to that particular audience. I told them that this class has really revolutionized my approach to learning, and I believe that digital literacy will be critical for students to be most effective in the digital age. That same day I also pitched to my American Lit class with Dr. Phil Snyder, who knows Professor Burton and endorsed attending the event (he says he might come too!) I gave out all of my flyers that day--I was pretty proud of myself. 
  2. I brought up the class and our event in conversations with friends and acquaintances whenever I could, and invited everyone to come. There's a guy in my ward who's a computer geek and knows all about open-source software and writes code and runs LINUX on his computer and the whole nine yards. He expressed a lot of interest when I invited him. I've also talked to coworkers, roommates, and friends who have said they would like to attend.
  3. I have yet to make my online pitch/invitations, but just this evening I talked to my mom on the phone and told her that she could watch the event video streamed live on JustinTV.com, as Dr. Burton describes on his post (Thank you, Eric Collyer!). She plans to attend. After I finish writing this post I'm going to get on Facebook and send some personal invitations to old roommates and friends from back home to see if they would like to come or, if possible, watch it live via video stream.
I am getting excited for this event. Honestly, I have done my best to base my approach on the fact that I believe this information to be useful, and not just on the fact that there will be milk and cookies at the end of the presentation. This is something I care about that I believe will be worthwhile, because it certainly has been for me. Like I've said before, learning is discourse; let's get as many people as we can involved in the conversation.

So You Want To Make Your Own Mormon Message?

Photo credit: Stef48 
The journey has been long, but well worth it. Here are some tips for making a Mormon Message of your own.

  1. Come up with an idea. Decide what you want to do and how you want to do it. Do you want to illustrate a gospel principle through a conference talk? Make a Mormon music video? Know someone with an incredible story of faith? Decide on the message you want to convey and the tone you want your video to have. We decided to do something along the lines of the classic Mormon video, "Out of the Mouths of Babes," and interview little kids about love in their families. See the contest website, lds.org/videocontest, for more ideas, rules, and guidelines.
  2. Decide on a plan of attack. Evaluate your ideas and resources--make sure you will be able to accomplish what you want to do in the time frame allotted.
  3. Gather your materials/people. Find a camera and make sure you know how to use it. If you don't, find someone who does. Having a friend or relative with video making/editing expertise will help you immensely in the process. Our group is very grateful for the help of Dave Potter's sister, a recently graduated film major, who lent us her camera and generously allowed us to draw on her expertise. Keep in mind that for all distinguishable locations and for all persons in the video you will need to have signed location and model releases.
  4. Film. Make sure in the process that you continually evaluate the intended purpose of your message and that the footage you take will convey what you are trying to get across. Also, you may only use music under the categories listed on the contest website, and any copyrighted material (such as logos on people's clothing) is not allowed.
  5. Edit. This part takes a LONG TIME, so keep that in mind. Our group used the program Final Cut Pro, available on the computers in the BYU Harold B. Lee Library Multimedia Lab (mmlab.lib.byu.edu), which was handy because there's a technical assistant in there who can teach you how to use the program. You could also use another program such as iMovie, which is a little bit simpler than Final Cut. We had huge issues with downloading and transporting our files--make sure your hard drive is compatible with the computer you will be working on, and that you will have enough space to save your files. Helpful tip for BYU students: Reserve the same computer for the entire time you will be working on your project and save yourself a lot of hassle. Ugh. Back up your project in a couple different places, if possible.
  6. Upload your finished video to YouTube. You submit your Mormon Message by putting the video URL on the electronic entry form (available through the website).Contest judging begins February 1st, 2011, and you will be notified if there are issues with your video or if you have been selected as a finalist. 
A project like this takes quite a bit of time and effort--not gonna lie. But I have learned so much and don't regret my time invested at all. It is my hope that even if our video is not selected as a finalist that we will be able to share it and use it to uplift others and help them to feel the Spirit each time they see it.

Monday, December 6, 2010

A Potential Presentation Introduction

I've been put in charge of introducing our video/giving the presentation for our event on Thursday, and as I've thought about what I might say, there are a lot of different directions I could potentially go. This is one of them--let me know what you think.

It is a truth universally acknowledged that the Protestant Reformation could not have happened without the printing press. Reformation ideas had been circulating for quite some time, but it was not until the years following the advent of the printing press around 1460 that those ideas were able to take root. Martin Luther, reformer, commandeered the printing presses in his area, and the printed material that circulated as a result sparked the Protestant Reformation, which was an important event in paving the way for the Restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ on the earth.

Once again, in the 21st century, we find ourselves faced with a new means of spreading information: the Internet. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints has made tremendous efforts recently to improve their use of this new media in sharing the gospel and educating members in ways that they can do the same. One of these ways the Church has provided is the International Video Contest , running from October 18th, 2010, to January 31st, 2011; members can submit their own Mormon Messages, like the ones shown on lds.org. The site (lds.org/videocontest) reads:
The purpose of this video contest is to give more members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints an opportunity to strengthen their testimonies as they share their talents with worldwide members and to “join the conversation” in sharing the gospel with the world. This contest will also help gather videos and material that could be used in future Mormon Messages and other Church video projects.
We must join the conversation; we must use this new media to share what we know to be true and let our voices be heard. The Church as an organization is wonderful, but it is in the lives of our members that we find the true manifestation of our faith.  We can make this known by taking advantage of opportunities such as this contest to use new media in ways that will touch peoples’ hearts and invite them to come unto Christ by sharing personal testimonies. This has been our goal in the making of our own Mormon Message, which we have entitled, “The Greatest Joys,” based on the talk by President Henry B. Eyring entitled, “Our Perfect Example.”

Saturday, December 4, 2010

An Exercise in Problem-Solving (and Patience!)

If only sleep was in the foreseeable future... Photo credit:

jpockele on flickr


You know how when something is difficult/stressful someone will often quip that "it builds character?" Well, I am building character all over the place with our Mormon Message project. I have wished ruefully that things would just cooperate, the stars would align, the universe would turn in our favor, and we could work happily along on our project and everything would go smoothly. But alas, no rest for the weary.

Friday, December 3, 2010


So we've run into some technical difficulties saving our video files to a hard drive. It looks like we should be able to figure out a solution, but it has been a little stressful.

Remember the days when your projects consisted of making posters and stuff and how the only computer problem you had to worry about was your printer running out of ink?

Yeah--sometimes I miss those days.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

And Ariel's Blog Post Nominations Are...

What could they be?? Photo credit: gAbY on flickr

Drum roll, please:
  • Historical Content: One of the (many) strengths of Kristi Koerner's blog is her demonstrated understanding of historical content. A great example of this is her post called Leading Up to Mormonism, in which she discusses the way historical concepts previously discussed in class are reflected in the Mormon faith; it is obvious by the way she discusses each principle that she fully understands it, and she has provided a valuable reference point for those of her classmates looking to improve their own historical posts.
  • Computing Content: Alex Gunnarson's post about lynda.com is an ideal example of the digital literacy lab blog entry. He begins with an overview of what the tool is (a website of video tutorials for a plethora of software programs, like Microsoft Office, Adobe Photoshop, etc.) and why it is useful, and then goes into how he found the tool and his purpose in using it. With multiple screencasts, he walks the user through the process of finding a tutorial (he uses Adobe Flash Catalyst as an example), making the process clear and easy to follow. Thanks to his post, I will be using lynda.com in the future.
  • Self-Directed Learning: Jeff Whitlock is passionate about economics, and it shows in his extremely well-informed, well thought-out blog posts that combine in-depth research with personal experience. Two of my favorites are about cell phones in developing countries and  microfinance. Clear and concise, Jeff's posts show a great deal of personal investment in his topics and help even a lay audience (i.e. people like me, who know relatively little about economics) understand and feel enlightened.
It has been a privilege for me to interact with so many people with so many great ideas over the course of this semester. Like I've said before, learning is discourse, and I appreciate the way that each of my classmates have improved the quality of my learning by getting their ideas out there via their blogs. As others have expressed, there were so many exemplary posts that it was difficult to choose just a few. Great job, everyone!

    Wednesday, December 1, 2010

    Beyond Blackboard: Making A Personal Connection

    Do I love Blackboard? Not really. But it was the logo
    with a personal touch. :)
    Photo credit: Barry D on flickr
     I feel like this Digital Civilization class has really revolutionized my approach to learning; I can see the Consume, Create, and Connect mindset that we've worked hard to cultivate in this class cropping up in other areas. For example, it occurred to me to use the connection Blackboard provides between students for a purpose other than bombarding everyone's email with requests for missed notes.