Political discourse without the spin.
The holiday season is upon us; that phrase has been said ad infinitum, right? But this time, it means something. For the last 4 months, I’ve been deeply engaged in classes that are pulling things out of my brain which might not ever be unearthed in a non-academic environment. And, I enjoyed it; that’s the part which is amazing. I couldn’t be a technologist without realizing that I don’t know everything when I show up. This particular class was really interesting in its alternative take on the way we created and submitted our assignments. It’s the study of studying; how to conduct research using various tools, with a concentration on getting it done electronically.
Following are responses to questions for the last English assignment.
Over the years, I’ve been called many things, but a ‘documentarian’ has a nice ring to one who thinks they’re a scribe. My ‘engagement with technology’ began a long time ago; however, its application in this class was interesting, to say the least. The first thing that made me comfortable was when the Professor said she wanted us to create blogs in WordPress. As long as I could use one an existing ones, I was alright. She looked surprised when I made the request, but that’s the typical response I get. Used to it, it’s ok.
Creating space in my Politics blog for homework sounded strange at first, but it was the only logical place to insert it. The other ones – with topics on deregulation, conquering breast cancer and life in general, and a living memorial – weren’t applicable at all. I combined the social justice and responsibility with political commentary; not bad for 4 months of work!
Let’s start from the beginning. The first assignment was on someone whom I’d never heard of, June Jordan. It reminded me of the Intro to African-American Studies class earlier this year. All of my people in academia whom I hadn’t run across in my readings are taught at R.U. There are many more to discover.
The article on “hashtag activism” was interesting, but what was more interesting is that in only 6 years, it was already dated. What applied in 2008 no longer does. The Malcolm Gladwell article was good, as is all of his work, but unfortunately, we didn’t review it. Instead, we spent extra time on the Clay-Shirkey article. Not that it wasn’t good, too, but Malcolm is my guy.
We spent a lot of time discussing the technical aspect of seeking information, from traditional library sources [albeit electronically] as well as general Internet sources. It’s interesting that in academia, the Internet sources are really considered to be questionable unless they come from good stock. That’s not necessarily true, but… that’s how the course is written.
That’s why programs such as CAEL / PLA [The Council for Adult & Experiential Learning / Prior Learning Assessment] are so important. All knowledge and expertise – surprise! – does not originate in academia. The problem is getting that particular fact publicized. There were, however, many fascinating databases accessible through the R.U. Library that an info junkie can just melt into. It’s like Kroch & Brentano’s at your fingertips. Now that was a bookstore; too bad they didn’t last.
The assignment on the “Digital Nation” video was enlightening. Who knew that the Korean children went through withdrawal programs? As for the rest, Americans always wind up succumbing to the corporations who are monetizing any given situation without considering the consequences to the general public. It hurts them? They’ll get over it. This explains the attitude of the corporations. That was my take-away from “Digital Nation.”
Prezi was offered by LinkedIn at least 4-5 years ago, so I’ve used it for a while. Even so, the search for a subject for the English assignment wasn’t easy. The fact that I did know the program had the opposite effect. Rather than being a help, for a moment it turned into a hindrance. Why? Because I was looking for perfection. A person who didn’t know the program would’ve been satisfied with first few drafts. I changed it 90 times, when the first few were more than worthy of submission.
How was a multimedia experience different from writing traditional papers? A good answer would take much too long. The abbreviated version is that using tools that have been available to us for many years means the classrooms have finally caught up with real life. There’s a lot still missing as the college curriculums of the world are the last to change, but this is a good start. This is an observation of one returning to school after a long hiatus, as well as an analysis of the system as it stands. That particular discussion would take days to complete.
The most difficult obstacle was creating a video. It’s unfortunate that I’d never done it before, but that was the case. Looking everywhere for conversion software, files going from 4 MB to 400 MB, all kinds of mishaps. However, I left it alone for a couple of days and started again with YouTube’s video editing features to create my video, and it came out well. It could be better, but for a first one, not bad. For my classmates, every video was good. Maybe it was generational; they grew up making videos, I spent time making presentations. Believe me, there’s a big difference.
In conclusion, I salute the professor for being able to make me pay attention; that’s not an easy thing to do. Not only did I pay attention, but learned many things that were previously not in my arsenal. That was an accomplishment, and I appreciate it.
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Political discourse without the spin.
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