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

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Writing about Blogging: A Proposal

WritingThese past few weeks I've been working on a research paper about blogging as a learning tool and how it can be implemented in undergraduate classrooms. This topic is so exciting to me--having personally experienced the benefits of utilizing a blog in a course, I believe that research about how to optimize the use of this up-and-coming media is interesting and valuable for students and teachers alike. One of the greatest benefits for using a blog in an academic setting is to document the learning process. As I was discussing this paper tonight with Dr. Burton, my former professor for Digital Civilization, he suggested I model the process I'm talking about. When I told him about the proposal I wrote for my paper last week, he suggested I post it on my blog.

"It's valuable before it's complete knowledge," he said.

And I agree.

So here, in its entirety, is my proposal. Since its submission, I have done more research and have formulated more questions, which I would like to post soon. Any feedback is much appreciated.

(Photo credit: J. Paxon Reyes on flickr)

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

First Flight and New Horizons

My name is Ariel, I'm almost 21, and I have never ridden on a plane before.

Until today, that is.

Plane taking off from Sunport

I feel like I've passed an epoch in my life in some ways. I have now experienced an aspect of our culture that I have never been able to relate to before: the security hassles (no one told me that you had to put your laptop in a separate bin, so they put all my stuff through again), the seemingly endless intricacies of an international airport (what do all these numbers mean??), the moving sidewalks (so fun!), finding your gate, boarding, etc. When the stewardess came around with snacks, I had to get the peanuts--just to make the first-time experience complete, ya know?

As we were taking off in the airplane (with my professor and fellow student watching me curiously to see how I would react) I marveled at what a miracle flight is. This metal machine, weighing several tons, actually was going to fly us through the air for several hundred miles and get us to our destination in a fraction of the time it would take by car.  The flight was uneventful, though the changes in pressure took a little bit of getting used to. I still don't feel like I'm in Arizona, because when my family travels, we drive, and so I feel like I haven't spent enough travel time to get here. And yet here I am. As I took in the yellow Arizona sunset from the window of our rental car, it all seemed rather surreal.

We were all starving when we finally got to our hotel, so someone suggested we go out to eat. My fellow student, Kristen, just finished a field study in India this summer, so I suggested we go out for Indian food. (Note: I have never had Indian food before in my life.)

"Yeah, that sounds great! Let's go!"

So we went. On my suggestion. And while there was a little too much cilantro for my taste in some of the dishes we ordered, it was an excellent culinary adventure, and I got very full. I personally ordered the sag (spinach) shrimp, which I loved. Of course, I don't think I've ever met a shrimp I didn't like. We finished the night off with a quick jaunt to the Coldstone across the street from our hotel (which is rather posh, by the way).

It seems appropriate that my first flight was out to the National Collegiate Honors Council Conference, which is all about going further and reaching higher in education. I am so excited to explore the city and participate in this conference. In some ways I feel like I'm standing on another edge, ready to take the steps to take my education and my life to the next level. When I fully grasped the idea of taking control of my own learning and making my education what I wanted it to be, a whole world of possibilities opened before my view. I can't wait to step into the future.

Photo credit:  bobthemtnbiker on flickr

Sunday, October 16, 2011

The Digital Civilization Journey

A post in preparation for the National Collegiate Honors Council Conference 2011

Creative Commons Creativity Poster

As I reflect on my experience in my Digital Civilization course a year ago, I believe that out of all the  courses I've taken, this one has had the most profound impact on me as a student in general and as a learner in the digital age.

Dr. Zappala, one of my Digital Civilization professors, remarked in his reflective post that students found this class "disorienting" at first. Why yes--yes we did. I walked out of class the first day wondering, What in the world I have I gotten myself into?! Finding our own readings? Blogging about our learning process? Seeking out connections via the Internet with other people who were interested in our topics? This was...unconventional, to say the least. Not like your traditional go-to-class, do-the-reading, do-the-homework, turn-it-in type of learning process. The class required a radical shift in thinking; I felt like I had to re-learn how to learn, and sometimes that was downright hard.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

The Rapture 2011

Oh--you're still here?

Yeah, me too.

According to Harold Camping, a doomsday prophet based in California and the head of Family Radio International, at 6 pm on May 21st, 2011, the world was supposed to end. Well, more accurately, the righteous would be caught up into heaven, and this judgment day would touch off five months of torment for the wicked before the world ended for good on October 21st of this year.

As we know by now, that didn't quite happen. Well, a volcano erupted yesterday, but there was nothing close to the cataclysmic earthquakes and natural disasters that Camping predicted.

Now, I didn't believe that Camping's prediction would come true. I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, and while we do believe in prophets, we do not believe that Camping is one of them. However, from my reading about this event (or lack thereof) I have been struck by several things:

  • First of all, in reading the tract put out by believers in the idea of May 21st as the Day of Judgment, the tone was not condescending; it was a statement of what they believed to be true and a desire to share this belief in order for other people to be prepared. I can respect that. Also, as I skimmed Harold Camping's exposition on the Rapture, I found his tone to be similar: 

The big question we all must face is whether or not we are ready for our Lord’s return. Have we seen ourselves as the sinners we are? Have we repented of our sins, believing in the Lord Jesus Christ as our sin-bearer? Have we turned away from our sins, earnestly desiring to be obedient to Christ?

          He does not set himself up as more righteous than all others, which I can respect
          as well.

  • You know, I think it's healthy once in awhile to think about what we would do differently if we knew the world was going to end tomorrow. How would our priorities be different? Who would we spend our time with? What would we do? I think an exercise like this helps us to live a little more in the present. (I can hear the old turtle in Dreamworks's Kung Fu Panda saying, "Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift. That is why it is called the Present.")
  • This was also good cause to think about how prepared we are for emergencies/natural disasters. With all the earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes, and other such things that have happened lately, I don't think anyone can contest that it is wise to be prepared for such things and make sure we would have what we need to survive in the event of such an emergency. Do we have a first aid kit? Water storage? Food? Favorite blanket?
  • Finally, I think that anything that helps to turn someone toward God in some way has served a useful purpose. Yes, oh ye Rapture 2011 believers, God was using you--just perhaps not quite in the way you thought. :)
Here's to many more years of life well-lived for all of us.

P.S. You can read about Camping's reaction to yesterday here.

Image: Kata Rokkar / Flickr

Long Time, No Post

As you may have noticed, I haven't posted on this blog for awhile. I've been slightly more active on my personal one as of late, but I would like to revive this one a little bit. Whereas my other blog will be more about me and my life, this one will probably be more musings about concepts, issues, and so forth--staying more true to the principles of the class for which this blog was created in the first place. So there you are--just for your information. :)

Monday, February 7, 2011

Sticking to It

I heard a saying once that goes, "Good scholarship has less to do with intelligence and more to do with keeping your butt in the chair."

Well, if that's true, today I'm gonna need some superglue.

It was a late night last night (somehow I always have difficulty making myself go to bed at a reasonable time) and an early morning (studying for the first of my five midterms this week) and it's one of those days that I wish I could just go home and climb into bed. Hence, the superglue.

Provided I can find said chair to adhere myself to, that is, I thought to myself as I scanned the 4th and 5th floors of the library. Apparently everyone else has midterms this week too.

Happily, I finally found myself a study carroll in an obscure corner on the 5th floor, and if the guy sitting 2 chairs down keeps his music at a reasonable level we'll get along swimmingly, and I will be free to translate my Latin sentences and study the Romantic period of literature in peace.

Feel free to come unstick me at about 5:30-6:00; I'll probably be getting hungry around then, and I should probably make an appearance at FHE tonight.

P.S. My younger brother Nate actually tried gluing a girl to her chair once back in elementary school. Apparently Elmer's brand isn't quite strong enough for that kind of adhesion. :)

Photo credit: homard.net

Friday, January 21, 2011

Of Falling Asleep in Academic Institutions

I know I'm dozing off when my thoughts start getting weird.

Random things like pink encyclopedias and dinosaurs making cupcakes often appear in the midst (or mist? haha) of that transition between complete consciousness and full-on sleep. Of course, I only become particularly aware of these strange figments of my semi-consciousness when I'm trying to fight my body as it's attempting to shut down. For instance, grammar class this afternoon. Sentences and indirect objects start melding into verbs from my Latin test this morning and scenes from Disney's Up and someone is flying and there's chocolate and-- "What? Subject predicative? Well, that's, uh..."

Photo credit:
grampymoose on flickr.com
Well, it pains me to have to admit it, but I have fallen asleep in class before. My sincerest apologies to all my professors in whose classes this has occurred, especially if I was sitting in the front row (like I was today--yikes!). I promise I am interested in what you have to say--it's just that likely as not, I'm running on about 5 hours of sleep and not very much food, if any. (Mom, if you're reading this, I promise I'm doing better, in general, at taking care of myself this semester. Love you!) That's kind of what happened last night--I had some things to take care of earlier in the day, which meant that I didn't start my homework and studying for aforementioned Latin exam until about 9:45 pm. Not exactly conducive to staying alert in a grammar class at 1:00 the next afternoon. I promise that I want to learn and that I really do care--I'm just TIRED. (Is it breaking the Honor Code if I occasionally wish there were caffeinated Dr. Pepper available in the Cougareat? No, I honestly haven't ever taken caffeine for stimulus purposes, but I've been sorely tempted.)

Well, I technically haven't ever fallen completely asleep in class, but when you're devoting all your energy to just trying to stay awake, you might as well be completely asleep anyway; you're learning about as much. You know, I used to have no sympathy for the kids back in high school who would put their heads down and sleep through all their classes. (Side note--in one of my classes last year a guy fell asleep and snored through the entire Powerpoint lecture. There were some quiet parts too, when we were supposed to be silently reading, and we could hear the sounds of his slumber resonating from the back...kinda funny.) Anyway, sleeping in school always seemed rather disrespectful to me. I'm still pretty sure some of those snoozing high school kids didn't really care much about their education, but having done my share of dozing, I can look back on them with a less jaundiced eye. There have been times where I honestly feel like I CANNOT keep myself awake. My notes often reflect this--I've started writing a word, but it trails off into an illegible squiggle. I feel bad for my professors--with my fairly limited teaching experience, I know how discouraging/frustrating it can be sometimes when students don't seem to be engaged in the lesson (like those who are sleeping, for example). So will I stop falling asleep in class? Well, realistically, as long as I'm sleep deprived (which is the majority of the time) probably not. But I'll sure try.

(I propose we reinstate naptime for college students. All in favor? Tell you what--I'll let you sleep on it. :) )

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

An Encounter With Jimmer

You know this guy, the one pictured on the right? That one, with the big #32 on his jersey: the one who scored 47 points against the Utes last night in Salt Lake, and who was featured today on the front page of BYU's newspaper, The Daily Universe. The guy named as one of the top point guards in the nation--All-American, and Mountain West Conference Player of the Week eleven times. Yeah--THAT guy.

I stood next to him in line today at the Cougareat.

No, I didn't say hi, or congratulate him on the team STOMPING Utah last night (a defeat from which, my roommate smugly insists, they will never fully recover). Before you immediately label me a coward, let me explain my reasons for failing to pipe up to this guy who can really "throw it down" on the basketball court--literally. 47 points in one game is nothing to sneeze at.

First of all, yes, perhaps some of it was me being a chicken. Honestly, I was kind of afraid I would geek out on him, something along the lines of "OHmyGOODNESSYOU'REJIMMERFREDETTEandI'mACTUALLYSTANDINGNEXTTOYOU!!!" I generally try to avoid embarrassing myself in such a manner. I did, however, allow myself a private smile or two, basking a little in the glory of the superstar standing next to me.

Interestingly enough, he seemed to be by himself; he didn't talk to anyone as he stood in line. "Well," I thought to myself, "he probably gets people coming up to him all the time and gushing all over about what a phenomenal player he is--maybe he just wants to be left alone for a change." I mean, how would that be? People staring at you all the time in public and constantly being approached by perfect strangers, who, adoring though they may be, are perfect strangers nonetheless. All anxious to be acquainted with Jimmer Fredette, BYU basketball superstar well on his way to becoming a legend, just so they can say to their friends that they said hi to him one day in the Cougareat or in their History of Creativity class. But what about Jimmer Fredette, person? Does he ever get tired of only being recognized for his athletic ability?

One of my younger brothers is one of the most gifted athletes I know, and we have been told by several people of expertise that he is one of the top-tier soccer players his age in the nation. But he gets so tired of people just saying to him, "Wow--you are SO GOOD at soccer." Yeah, so what? It is a major part of who he is, but that's just it--it's a part. He has thoughts and feelings and ideas and characteristics not all associated with soccer. Maybe Jimmer would like to have a conversation that didn't mention basketball at all for a change. Maybe he actually cares about something other than turnovers and shooting averages, if anyone took the time to ask. Athletes are people too.

Well, Jimmer, I don't know what it's like to be in the limelight like you do. I'll probably never experience anything remotely close to the feeling of leading a nationally ranked team to victory in front of thousands of screaming fans. I do admire your tremendous talent, of course, and offer my congratulations on all your athletic accomplishments in addition to everyone else's. However, if I were to be again in circumstances similar to those earlier today, and did actually have the courage to open my mouth to release a coherent utterance, there is something I would want to tell you:

I sincerely hope you have a nice day. From one person, one college student, one human being, to another.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Romantic Inception

This semester I have British Literary History in the Talmage Building at BYU. That's right--an English class in the math/computer science building. Weird. Whenever I go in there I feel a little self-conscious, half expecting all the math students to somehow sense that I don't belong, like the figures of the subconscious in Inception. Well, I've been to class twice and haven't been attacked/stabbed/shot at yet, so we're doing pretty good so far.

ANYway, we are currently studying the Rrrrrromantic Period of British literature. All this was sounding vaguely familiar...goodness knows it should, considering we discussed Romanticism in all three of the English classes I took last semester. Today, in particular, we were discussing the writings of Wordsworth and Shelley in regards to poetry/poets (taken from the preface to Lyrical Ballads and from "A Defense of Poetry," respectively). I shall now regale you with an excerpt from the excerpt we read today from Wordsworth:
"What is a poet? He is a man speaking to men: a man, it is true, endowed with more lively sensibility, more enthusiasm and tenderness, who has a greater knowledge of human nature, and a more comprehensive soul, than are supposed to be common among mankind..."
To this, my professor added, the Romantic poet was a "super-emo guy"--I mean, these people were sensitive. I was thinking, as we discussed this passage, that we as a lone English class in a sea of math instruction going on around us, were kind of like the Romantic poets in the midst of the Industrial Revolution. While the students in the other rooms around us were toiling away at the nuts and bolts of computer programming and multi-variable calculus and the kind of more everyday, methodical things, we were smelling the roses (or, to acknowledge Wordsworth, the daffodils) of culture and refinement.

Please don't shoot me now. You can still be cultured as a math major, I promise.