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

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.

So I'm sitting at my computer a little while ago gathering material for my linguistics paper, and as I'm doing so I think back to before class today when I overheard some of my classmates commiserating about the fact that they've had a difficult time coming up with a paper topic for the three-page paper we have due in a week. Having done my fair share of racking my brain before finally coming up with one, I interjected and suggested that they could try perusing the "Additional Activities and Paper Topics" pages at the end of each chapter in one of our textbooks, Linguistics at Work, and use that as a starting point for coming up with their own ideas. So they're appreciative, and I don't think much more about it. Later I'm on a computer in the library checking my email when I see one of those mass emails sent through Blackboard (a website for posting assignments, class syllabi, announcements, etc. for university classes) from a person in my linguistics class asking for notes because they were sick or out of town or theirs were accidentally deleted or some such thing. Almost every BYU student has had one of those pop up in their inbox at some point or another, and it can get a little excessive. All of  a sudden the light goes on: If people can use this email feature to ask for notes and stuff from all of their classmates, why can't I share a few suggestions I've come up with for finding a paper topic? I'm sure that sort of email would be much better received. After all, it is offering help on something everyone in the class is concerned with, and perhaps it would facilitate interaction between some of the students. I know it would at least make me feel more invested and like I was contributing to other people's success as well as my own.

So I did. I wrote up my little email with a few suggestions that I thought would be most helpful in getting the creative juices going, and clicked "Submit." Less than an hour later I got an email in reply that read:
Bless your heart! You are so nice help us along! I really appreciate it. :) Thank you so much!     --Aleesha
How nice of her to reply! And now I know that not everyone marked it as spam and/or deleted it without looking at it. Score.

Learning is discourse, and I am grateful that I had Digital Civilization to help me realize the importance of that principle. (By the way, if you're curious as to what I'm writing my paper on, I'm analyzing the way certain linguistic principles contribute to the effectiveness of Brian Regan's humor. That's right--it's gonna be AWESOME. Perhaps I'll post a link to it when I get it written.)


  1. Good for you! That's good study karma you have going. Sounds like your linguistics project will be fun, too.

  2. Ariel, you're awesome! Way to be altruistic! Also, I love Brian Regan, and I want to read your paper when its done!

    I think you're making the world a better place, and I'm proud that I know you!

  3. Ariel, if you don't link to that paper, we can't be friends. Maybe you can expand to include Patton Oswalt and Jim Gaffigan... :)