Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Digital Civilization Reflection

Shortly after I returned from my mission, I quickly realized—though I am not sure exactly how—that I could organize and enrich my life by using new digital tools that I had never before considered using. I therefore started using Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Voice, and Google Documents...see the trend? Though these tools are very useful, I found myself in the Google rut. Luckily, our Digital Civilization class that has challenged me to expand my borders and use new digital tools to consume, create, and connect. So how have I done this?
This class has both introduced and inspired me to seek new ways of finding, filtering, and consuming digital media. Since starting this class, I have begun to use the following:
  • Google Reader: Yes, this still is a Google product but on a broader scale, it has helped me to understand what RSS feeds are and how they are used. They are brilliant!
  • Diigo: Simply put, I love it. It is funny how oftentimes you will think "wouldn't it be nice if they had...?" Then soon after having this thought, you soon find out that what you desired actually does exist. That is how it was with Diigo and me. I am a multi-computer user and I have frequently bemoaned the fact that I could not use bookmarks effectively. Well, now Diigo has come along and effectively solved that problem for me. 
  • Evernote: In many ways, Evernote is similar to Diigo but read here to see how I have found it to be most useful.
  • Blogs: Prior to this class, I believe that I could count on one hand the amount of times that I had read someone’s blog. I have now been fully introduced to the beauty of blogs as a both an exciting and valuable means of consuming digital
Overall, one of the greatest aspects of our Digital civilization class is that is gives both the opportunity and incentive to keep a regular blog. Writing in a blog has greatly influenced my learning. In fact, I would suggest that writing blog posts is, in many ways, a more effective learning exercise than writing papers. To illustrate, when writing blog posts one is free to synthesize, explore, adapt, change, reason, and articulate concepts, thoughts, ideas, principles in a far more fluid and less formal way. Furthermore, the idea that others—in addition to the Professor—will read your blog adds an important dimension. Finally, when writing a blog post, it is easier to focus on the desired message one wishes to convey and less on the desired grade. It has been a very useful tool for me to explore my own thoughts and opinions. In addition to both the social and cerebral benefits of keeping a blog, it has also facilitated the learning of how to do many useful things i.e. embed video, audio, pictures, and links in both blog posts and comments I have also learned how to do basic video editing on youtube.
Finally, I must admit that out of the three learning outcomes, connecting is the area that I would have to identify as needing improvement. I feel that I have done a good job commenting on other class member’s blog posts but not as good of a job posting on others’ outside of class. Moreover, though I have commented frequently on others' posts and received a significant amount of comments on my own posts (particularly this one), I still feel as if there is a lack of continuous dialogue. This is unfortunate, since I feel that dialogue is incredibly beneficial to all involved. However, reading the blogs of other students has helped me find common interests with other student in class which has, in turn, transferred into fruitful discussion and associations in class.
Overall, I am very pleased with my experience in our Digital Civilizations Class. It has helped me stretch intellectually, learn practical skills, and reexamine the way that I look at the World.