Posts Tagged ‘technology’

In a true “better late than never” fashion, it’s that time of year. Forget Hellweek, this is

FINALS WEEK

Keeping up with tradition dictates that I put off gobs of assignments until the last possible moment, and even then, I stumble or limp to the finish line in my attempts to get them done. For our Week 14 assignments in DigiLit class, we were asked to put together a digital story entailing a metaphor about learning: how we learn, what we think about learning, how we teach, something along those lines. I thought about this one for awhile (obviously). How do I learn? What do I think of it? This isn’t something I’ve ever really thought about. What defines me as a learner? How have I made it to where I’ve made it?

Then it clicked. Without discipline, routine, and determination, I wouldn’t be the learner I am. These components sound strikingly similar to another facet of life that I take almost no part in. The irony of my metaphor is palpable, but I felt it was the best one that fit. Rather than go the Powerpoint or YouTube route with my digital story, I decided to roll with something I’m a bit more fond of: the Podcast format.

For the lazy or time-constrained among you, here’s the story transcribed into text:

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Learning is a workout routine.

Not literally, mind you. If I know anything, it’s that exercise and I get along together about as well as fire and kerosine.

No, no, learning is a mental exercise. And not in that “Lumosity.com” kind of way. Your avenue, whether it be a classroom, books, or the internet, is your gym. Learning, much like physical activity, is a process that requires strict discipline, definitive goals, and oddly enough, variety.

I have friends who are weight lifters (the protein shake and Facebook memes kind), and they have a very methodical process. Each day consists of a warm-up, a workout of a different particular group of muscles, a cool down, and the maintaining of a strict diet designed around whatever their particular goals might be. Need bulk? Protein all day, everyday: chicken breasts, eggs, steaks, etcetera. Most will give themselves one rest day a week so their bodies don’t completely rebel and shut off completely from the immense stress.

Learning, I’ve found, is almost exactly the same. Learning will not just come to you out of the blue. You need to dedicate yourself to the process. Randomly surfing through Wikipedia articles doesn’t count, either. If you want to learn about something, you must discipline yourself to do so.

When I was in middle and high school in Alliance, Nebraska, marching band was an extremely popular activity. It reached across the boundaries of “cliques,” uniting the jocks, geeks, and stoner kids alike under a common banner. As you can probably imagine, trying to teach 100 pre-teens / angry teenagers how to march in time, let alone play an instrument, was nigh impossible. For band director of 33 years Dick Rischling, however, anything less than perfect was unacceptable. Dick Rischling was a man who would go for a 2 mile run and smoke a cigarette every step of the way. The man provided us with gems such as, “I love conflict! I win them all!” and “I hate cymbals, they sound horrible.” Every morning at 7:30 AM, a half hour before classes started, all 100 of us would show up, line up on a practice field in the rain or snow, and march with Dick Rischling barking commands from a megaphone. The man taught us to stand up straight, carry ourselves with some dignity, and above all: discipline. This discipline is something I’ve carried with me throughout my schooling career. Without it, I doubt I would have reached any level of success. In order to do well, you have to want to do well. You have to want to improve to improve.

Once discipline is instilled in a learner, different learners will find that they have a different “core group” of muscles that are already strengthened: some people are naturals at maths and sciences, but awful at humanities. Along this same vein, different people have different primary methods of learning. Some are auditory learners, preferring to listen to lectures or podcasts, while others are strictly visual, favoring note-taking and reading. Others still are “hands on” learners, better at learning through a “do as I do” method of teaching. While it’s natural to want to focus on your best attribute in terms of subject material, just because exercise is routine doesn’t mean you should forego adding variety to your workout. At some point, you will plateau. You will reach a ceiling that will seem impossible to break out of, and the best way to continue is to try something different before returning to that plateau. This is why weight-lifters rotate the muscle groups being worked on each day: an immensely powerful upper body is useless without the leg day to support it.

By identifying which style of learner a person is, they can also best figure out how to approach these different subjects. With the internet, there is no shortage of resources for learners of all strengths and weaknesses. If weight lifting isn’t your strong suit, maybe cardio is more your thing. Maybe yoga or some type of martial art is your best avenue. Take whatever learning style is best for you, and apply it to all subjects. See what works and what doesn’t. Identify and improve upon your weaknesses, even if only minutely.

Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, is that the principle of “use it or lose it” applies just as much with learning as it does with physical exercise. Your brain, the supercomputer that it is, is going to deem skills or knowledge left unused unessential. The way to avoid this is to stay in practice. Remember to review the concepts you already have a firm grasp on, while continuing to strive for new improvements.

While you won’t be seeing me in a gym anytime soon, it is undeniable that the same dedication and persistence found in a good workout regiment can be used just as effectively when building the most important quote muscle unquote of all:

your brain!

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Accipio

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Weird at last, weird at least, god almighty, weird at last.

Commonplace Books Photo Copyright – Commonplace Books

Story Time

When I was a wee lad, my mom would read me Goosebumps books before bedtime (explains a lot, right?) Being read to then created images just as vividly in my mind as reading itself did. When I got older, I obviously fell out of touch with being read to – I’m an adult, dammit! I can read my own books!

Well, turns out, being an adult has literally nothing to do with it. Make a 6 hour commute (one way) every two weeks with only country and gospel stations at your disposal, and you’ll find something to pass the time in a big fuckin’ hurry. I decided to give a few e-books a whirl, ones by Stephen King which I had already read, but it had been a few years. Why not, right? What I wasn’t expecting was to have images play in my head, just as vividly as when I read, just as vividly as when I was a kid.

What a revelation! In between Stephen King books, I would tune in to NPR for as long as I could get the signal. All Things Considered and This American Life became staples of my journey – and major sources of news for me as well. Something clicked in my head, here: I can listen to these people talk about things.. Podcasts are usually just people talking about things.. I think I’ve got something here. But where do I start? There are literally an infinite number of podcasts on an infinite number of topics, and some people just are not interesting enough to listen to.

Welcome to Nightvale. Figuratively and literally. Short version: Imagine “This American Life” from a community radio station in a small desert town in the Twilight Zone. Ms. Fish and I have been tuning in for several months now, and this addiction is far more rewarding and less expensive than crack. The most intriguing thing about Nightvale: It’s not a one-shot deal. It’s a continuous, ever-extending plot line. It’s a story. It’s a book that comes to us chapter by chapter. There are characters that appear continuously, plot lines that have ran (and continue to run) since the beginning of the cast almost 3 years ago, and a wide and interesting array of voice actors. Nightvale has become so ridiculously popular that they go on tours regularly, performing live renditions of shows, and have a novel coming out in October. Pre-order on lock.

Scottish Libraries Photo CC-by Scottish Libraries

Application

Certain classrooms in the U.S. are utilizing podcasts as tools – why bother forcing students to slog through classics if you can give them a story they’re interested in? Podcasts give stories that students can most likely better relate to. They can listen to podcasts while doing other activities. I know several people that would be more inclined to listen to a podcast as a homework assignment than read 85 chapters of Great Expectations. Digital storytelling as a medium, whether we like it or not, can appeal to students who rely so heavily on tech more than a conventional book. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for ink and paper, but e-books are a thing, it’s still an e-book, the second half of that phrase being book. Pen-and-paper elitists can get right the fuck outta my face wit dat.

That being said, it’s significantly more difficult to take notes in the margins of a podcast. Unless you can find some pretty interesting readings of said classics (which I hate but are necessary at times), students may miss out on some pretty important literary / story milestones if classics are skipped in favor of podcasts. Digital storytelling allows for an infinite realm of creativity and access, but also allows some pretty garbage material through. Many podcasts are poorly-written, gimmicky, or recorded through something that provides the audio quality of a potato. Quality control is an important consideration.

When it comes down to it, I’m of the opinion of “whatever you can do to get students interested jesus go with it why would you give up that opportunity.” The less students rolling their eyes in angsty disgust and actually engaging in something, the better.

Fabella

Have you ever had to keep a log of what you ate over the course of the week? Shit’s scary, isn’t it? Like, I know the things I put in my body are bad for me, but when it’s all listed out in front of me, sugars and calories and all that fun stuff in broad daylight, I can’t help but grimace at myself. Granted, nothing changes. As I’ve said, my body is not a temple, and I sort of just float by on my metabolism.

Now, apply the same situation to Internet usage. How often do you use it? What do you get on with? How long are your sessions? What spurs you to get on in the first place?

Scott Beale Photo CC-by Scott Beale, I wonder what proof this would be as an alcohol?

That’s the gist of an assignment done for my Digital Literacy class. I was asked to keep track of when I got on, why, how I felt, what I used, where I was, how long I was on, and what I did. The results are.. well, pretty mundane if you ask me.

Almost always, I use the Internet sitting down. Strange observation, sounds redundant, but it was part of what needed to be tracked. Whether killing time in my seat before a class, in my “nest” at home (on the couch next to Ms. Fish), or sitting and loafing on my friend’s couch, I’m almost always sitting, preferably with my feet up, in a relaxed, somewhat-slouching state.

It’s always my phone, too. Rarely ever my laptop, unless I’m doing homework for this class. Since I’ve gotten a smartphone, I like to pretend my dependency / attachment to the Internet has lessened – after all, I’m no longer on my computer all the time, right? Right? 95% of the time, it’s my smartphone that provides my window to the web. It was usually routine-like. I’d check Facebook, check my e-mail, and when done with what I abstractly considered “obligations,” I’d get on Reddit and read up about the video games I’m currently playing or anticipating the release of. Plus an occasional Cracked article or four. It was almost never to do homework, never for the sake of research – very little more than mindless meandering.

Eris Stassi Photo CC-by Eris Stassi, how many people do you think would go broke?

One thing that did vary that I found somewhat interesting, was the temperament that spurred me to get on the web. This is all over the place. For before class sessions, it would be boredom, or rather, anticipation – kill time, squeeze as much leisure and idiocy as I can in before having to actually engage my brain.

With friends or at home, it’s boredom, or perhaps even routine. Few minutes with nothing to do before leaving? E-mail. Just wake up in the morning and sitting trying not to die? Facebook! Friends all on their phones or respective devices being a collective hive-minded vegetable? Reddit!

The most fascinating one to me was my usage of the Internet when angry. Sometimes life deals you a shitty hand, and you don’t get a re-draw. You just deal. Often, in my post-anger cool-down phase, I would whip out my phone and scroll / click furiously. Anything, any distraction I can get, I need my brain off. That consists of either auto-piloting and clicking wherever I can, or attempting to overload myself with needless information until my brain goes into “CRITICAL OVERLOAD” and shuts itself off.

It’s been an interesting little experiment. It’s helped me see how much of a creature of habit I can be – and what I need to do differently in terms of coping with certain events. Maybe if I’m bored I should carry a book around with me instead of read about the fact that PREDATOR IS IN THE NEW MORTAL KOMBAT GAME OMGOMGOMG

Erm. Anyway, when angry, maybe I just need to sit and disconnect for a second – turn my brain off the old fashioned way and meditate or just grapple with my irritations head-on. Or maybe I’m just reading too much into this and will do literally nothing to change my behavior. I wonder if there’s a sub-reddit on this.

Habitus

Recently, I jumped on a bandwagon that many others have been a part of for years, and I got my first smartphone. Up until 2015, I had managed just fine with an old-school, flip-style keyboard phone, and I actually took pride in that. I didn’t have the ability to tune out and dive into my phone at the first sign of boredom. I didn’t have social media to check up on, e-mails to check, or Skype calls to maintain. I was worried that constant access to something as daunting as the Internet would make me either dependent, or a total moron.

The key is striking a balance. Not just with your phone, but with technology in general.

Kevin O'Mara Photo CC-by Kevin O’Mara

Disconnect

Comedian Louis C.K. said it best when he described why he hated cell phones. People are afraid to be alone. In an age where we should be more connected to each other than ever before, are we really? We talk to our friends via screens, we make plans, receive invites, and trade ideas, but is it worth as much as face-to-face contact? In some instances, yes. Without technology, you wouldn’t be able to talk to or see the faces of family members half a country away, let alone half a globe. That being said, how often do we just sit and think? Call it meditation, call it yoga, call it what you will, but how often does that occur in our day-to-day lives? When’s the last time you stopped to take a breath and didn’t reach for a phone or a controller? When’s the last time you felt pangs of loneliness and didn’t practically sprint to social media to see what everyone’s doing?

Social media is a caricature of real life. Some studies have been done on this, but certain people who frequent social media have low self-esteem, because all they see is the highlight reel of their friends’ lives. It’s all the most exciting things, locations, events – none of the mundane. We need to keep ourselves occupied, because if not, we might have to get to know ourselves. We might have to stare our insecurities and anxieties in the face without any buffer or distraction. For some people, that’s more terrifying than a dependency on technology.

Marlana Zanatta Photo CC-by Marlana Zanatta

Attention, Please

One thing I hate about this conversation is codgers who blame the Internet and technology dependency on the downfalls of man. Most of these people complain about this shit via a cell phone and snarky Facebook status.

I’ve said it a million times and I’m going to keep saying it: the Internet, technology, are tools. You don’t get mad at a hammer when you hit your thumb with it (and if you do, you quickly realize how foolish that is). The key is balance. There are definitely parts of the day that require mindless meandering through something, be it video games, TV, trashy magazines, what have you. It’s nice to sometimes just turn your brain off and hit the ‘auto-pilot’ button. When this impedes connection with other people is where problems can occur. Don’t you hate it when you go out for food with friends and half of them are staring at their phones? Why? Why does that bother you?

Because you don’t have their full attention, and you feel cheated. You want to connect on a personal level, even for just a little bit, and the divvying of attention between your friends and Reddit can be frustrating. I do believe we can be present in a conversation and maintaining technology at the same time – some conversations, like the funny thing that happened to you in the elevator that day or whathaveyou, probably don’t require 100% undivided attention. I know extroverts who don’t even need conversation to feel connected or rejuvenated, they just want another human being’s presence with them. There’s nothing wrong with that.

A little management goes a long way. Turn the Twitter, FB, etc. push notifications off on your phone. You’re going to check those sites at some point during the day anyway. People get a drug-like rush when they see they’ve received notifications, and even more so of one if there are more. Wouldn’t you rather get on once a day and see a dozen notifications than micro-manage needless groups of ones, twos, and threes throughout the course of your day? Don’t be a slave to your fabricated social life. Be there for people. Don’t scramble for your phone at the first sign of a vibration.

They’ll notice, and they’ll appreciate it. Whether they say so or not.

Coniungere

In previous blog posts, I’ve mentioned how anonymity and the Internet turns people into shits, how groups ranging from ISIS to Anonymous utilize social media accounts, and how hiding behind computer screens creates monsters of people.

Now, allow me to elaborate, and also possibly contradict myself in every imaginable way.

bradhoc Photo CC- by bradhoc, “Activism” pre-Twitter era

Digital Activism

No longer are we restricted to an age where activism consists of picket signs and marches at colleges where you will most likely be shot – though it is still alive and well (the Guy Fawkes mask is still worn by protesters and members of Anonymous). This is the digital era, where everything can, and will, be digitized, uploaded, downloaded, mainstreamed, outsourced, and pre-installed. Grassroots campaigns are being booted up via Facebook groups. Kickstarter, GoFundMe and indiegogo campaigns are funding people’s dreams, visions, creations, and movements. People standing on streetcorners with bullhorns is out. Active tweeting is in.

More and more movements, revolutions, voices are being forged via digital connections. The Internet eliminates the geographical, and sometimes political, bounds that people have when trying to find like-minded people to instigate change. In a list of 6 activist functions of technology, the list goes like this: Shaping public opinion, planning action, protecting activists, calling to action, taking digital action, and transferring resources. The list is extremely comprehensive, and any number of mediums are involved: blogs, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, etc. People with a cause have a network. Mobile devices, even in repressive countries (with a little know-how) allow infinite connectivity to other people. Technology is changing the face of revolution.

However, nearly all of these have another side to the coin. The same anonymity that protects activists from harm and death threats, also hides cowards, trolls, and attackers. Calls to action can be made for any cause, only relatively recently were ISIS pages taken down from social media sites. News stories are broken nearly every day of recruits added to terrorist ranks because of connectivity to other countries. Public opinion can be shaped and influenced for the better, as George Takei’s proposed boycott on Indiana shows, but countries like North Korea, and to some extent China, also utilize technology to censor the true goings-out and shape public opinion in favor of their causes. Social media can be used to rally people, but as a good friend of mine pointed out to me, there is no quality control filter on the Internet. For every genuine cause with a purpose, there are 35 others spewing political ideology BS, biases, ignorant, un-educated arguments.. the list goes on.

As I’ve said, technology is a tool. The usage of it is up to us.

Mohammad A. Hamama Photo CC – by Mohammad A. Hamama – also relevant!

Youth of the Nation

Luckily, there are teens / students out there using the Internet for the forces of good. The Buddy Project, founded by Gabby Frost, is a foundation dedicated to helping teens with mental illnesses, bullying issues, and suicide prevention by pairing them up with other teens based on age groups, interests, etc. and essentially giving them a digital pen-pal and a shoulder to lean on. There are infinite numbers of foundations and pages out there dedicated to these types of causes, but The Buddy Project won a Shorty Award for the best Teen Activist page in social media. The foundation is open to all – regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, etc. and the value of something like this simply cannot be understated. The Internet makes bullying a global issue. Faceless attackers face no retribution, but there are supporters. There are good guys out there. The Buddy Project wants to help find them. The Project’s Twitter page consists of motivational speaking, as well as condolences and reassurances that people with mental health issues aren’t simply “faking it” or in control of how they feel. The Buddy Project acknowledges problems, and treats them as such. Activism done right.

The focus is on the people suffering. It’s not on the nay-sayers, nor the monsters hiding behind the screen – it brings the light into focus. It highlights the need for changes. Teenagers, students, aren’t morons. They may be adolescents or even children, but kids know what’s up. They recognize wrong when they see it (unless they’ve been indoctrinated otherwise). Even if schools aren’t encouraging kids to be activists, they should at least be encouraging passion about societal issues. Encourage research before opinions are spewed out for the world to consume.

Chris Scheupp Photo CC – by Chris Scheupp

Do Your Part

When it comes to my own “digital activism,” I do significantly less than people such as Gabby Frost. I’ve signed my fair share of petitions. I’ve voted when I saw options necessary.

The best I try to do is speak in defiance of that which I feel is wrong. CSC’s paper, The Eagle, has been berated with my angry ranting (much like my blog) for the last few years concerning religious bigotry, internet anonymity, violence in media, LGBT / women’s rights, etc. I don’t have a campaign, I don’t have a legion of followers, but I have a voice, and I have the mediums to spread it. I “shape public opinion,” or more accurately, “call to action.” With words I battle ignorance and injustice – though I probably have done my fair share of participating in both of those things regardless, I’m sad to say.

The best I can hope for is that I’ll continue learning, continue trying, and continue improving. If I’ve made even one person feel adequate, justified, or comforted with my words, I consider that a victory.

Novo

Reflection

Posted: March 23, 2015 in DigiLit
Tags: , , ,

A lot of time spent in college, depending on the college, is time wasted. General Studies programs are the laughing stocks of people who went to pursue higher education fresh out of high school. You’re literally paying to take the same classes you took last year: basic Algebra, Biology, English, even P.E. (at least at my school) for Christ’s sake. What part of you thinks any part of me wants to re-experience P.E.? Yeesh.

Luckily, there are certain classes where your brain actually has to stretch a bit, you need to utilize (and harness) a set of skills, and you can walk away feeling like your time wasn’t wasted.

If you haven’t gathered, I’m reflecting on my Digital Literacy class, taught by Dr. Elisabeth Ellington.

Sacha Chua

Photo CC-by Sacha Chua, and pretty accurate to boot!

To be honest, going into this class, I was completely unsure of what to expect. The catalog description simply said “learning how to utilize technology in a way combined with literacy” or something really vague and over-generalized, as college catalogs tend to be. I expected to have to be tweeting and blogging (mostly because I knew the professor and her preferred methods, not because I knew anything about the class), and so far, that has obviously rang extremely true.

Considering that I had no expectations, they couldn’t exactly be defied – I was going in blind, but curious to see where I’d wind up. To say I’m surprised would be an understatement. This class has been multi-faceted in a way I wouldn’t have ever thought of. We’ve covered what it means to be technologically savvy, the best way to utilize technology in classrooms, ways to use technology to network properly and build a career path, as well as the infinite different ways technology can be put to use as a creative outlet. All without stepping on anyone’s toes, doing anything that can get us sued, or stepping out of the comfort of our homes and / or preferred coffee shops.

Denise Krebs

Photo CC-by Denise Krebs

This class hasn’t only helped me learn the ropes of a lot of facets of the web I wouldn’t have thought to use prior (including blogging and Tweeting, as well as searching for photos and videos that won’t have copyright lawyers banging on my door), but has also taught me a few things about myself. 1) I procrastinate, real bad. I always figured I sort of did, but trying to stuff 2 blog posts, 20 tweets, and more in one Sunday night is something I need to stop fucking doing jesus why do I do this to myself

I’ve also discovered that I very much enjoy trying to farm all sides of perspectives and arguments. When TEDTalks were introduced to the curriculum, I wound up gravitating toward anti-TEDTalk TEDTalks. So meta. So edgy. So hipster. When proposed initiatives or radical renovations to old-school teaching are offered, I’m the first one in line for both the pros / possibilities as well as the cons / harsh realities and obstacles. I’m not trying to be a contrarian because I feel cool – I genuinely feel like perspective gained is worthless if it isn’t all-encompassing. Stacking the deck in favor of your opinions or beliefs doesn’t help anyone, and it makes you look like a nimrod.

For future reference in this class, I’d very much like to connect with or see some people who have put these alternative forms of education and learning into practice. Granted, we did watch a TEDTalk and read a fistful of blog posts with examples, but I mean on a larger scale. Someone out there has to be doing something to better our busted-ass educational system, and the idea has to be gaining steam. At least, the (tiny) idealist in me hopes so. I also wouldn’t mind maybe some more collaboration / actual back-and-forth between classmates. Responding to tweets / blog comments is fine and dandy, but I’d be lying if I said that it felt like most of us were doing it for the sake of the assignment quota, and less out of a general interest. Regardless of how cool an online class is, I do value the all-important face-to-face components.

Paul HocksenarPhoto CC-by Paul Hocksenar

Overall, I am enjoying this class immensely, and I’m excited to see what else we cover before the semester is up. I’m also excited, if not a little leery, to begin my Daily Create project. I feel like it’ll force me to have to flex my creative muscles a bit more than I have been, and hey, I’m not going to complain about that.

Mitesco

It’s rare, but occasionally, even on the Internet, I stumble upon something that seems almost beyond description.

In the beginning of our digitally literate journey, we had to do some digging and discover what exactly it meant to be digitally literate. If we had to dig deeper and find something, like an online class, that perfectly embodied putting what digital literacy is into practice, it would be ds106.

digistorytellin Photo CC-by digistorytelln

Digital Whosawhatnow?

Digital storytelling. In a nutshell, without Wikipedia’s help, digital storytelling is the usage of all mediums of technology both audial and visual: written, filmed, recorded, drawn, photographed, read, etc. for the sake of telling one’s life story and sharing one’s life experiences. Each and every one of us is on a journey, and no two are ever the same. We feel a basic need as human beings to connect with one another – how better than to swap stories, even if by non-conventional methods?

ds106 is an open source, open-enrollment online course, originally offered at the University of Mary Washington and now available as a drop-in, drop-out, all resources available online course. No enrollment fee, no grading, all it takes is some participation, and a hell of a lot of creativity.

Something in me is inherently leery about something this open. Where’s the catch? All these resources, all these testimonials at my fingertips. I’ve been here before. “Hear our glowing customer testimonials!” “See what others think!” Page after page of falsified reviews and bogus claims give the Internet and I a love-hate relationship.

The thing is, I see no reason to disbelieve. All over the place there are videos offering reviews / advice to oncoming students about the class. Everywhere you look: Twitter, Gravitar, YouTube, WordPress, you see the real work of real people as they try to flex their creative muscles and learn a thing or two about technology in the process. As an educational tool, this is the real deal.

opensourcedotcom Photo CC-by opensource.com

Talk Techy to Me

I’ve made the analogy several times already that creativity is a muscle, but it’s something I truly believe. Use it or lose it – great ideas are good, but they benefit no one trapped inside your head!

Scam or no scam, cult or no cult, aliens or no, ds106 wins in my book for two reasons.

  1.  Promoting Digital Literacy
    1. A huge part of ds106 is learning how to tangle with the Internet’s different beasts: Twiter, YouTube, Gravitar, WordPress, Facebook, Internet Radio, Flickr, video manipulation software, photo editing software, etc. all are part of the many various creative assignments offered by ds106. In order to participate, you’ve got to be ready to tackle some serious tech. This is a great way to introduce those unfamiliar or leery of some of the many services offered online: I was the type of person to scoff at both blogs and Twitter feeds until I was forced to maintain ones of my own.
  2. Creativity
    1. “Storytelling”. That’s the focus of the class. It just happens to be digital. ds106 offers an untold number of different ways to put your creativity into practice. Writing prompts about fanfic characters? Check. Conversations with celebrities using soundboards and audio editing software? Check. Photography exercises focusing on colors? Check. Creation of old-school, 50’s style educational videos in favor of a topic of choice? Check. The possibilities here are nearly limitless. There are even assignments focused around creating animated GIF images, and if that’s not outrageous enough, there are 3D Printing based assignments. Holy hell.

The applications for this class, to me, transcend the bounds of education. Teachers who are passion-focused or looking for ways to hack education: this is it. Students learn practical / new skills, students learn (and tell us) about themselves, and students are allowed to be creative and kept from doing needless busywork. Hell yes. For others, it’s a great crash-course in Internet-ing. For others still, it’s a good chance to experiment with different forms of creative expression.

So, it’s a free, open-source, do-as-you-please class where all the material is available online, the assignments are all open to tweaking, and you’re heavily encouraged to share your work with others and network with people about what you’re doing and what you’re learning?

Sounds like digital literacy 101 to me.

Ex nihilo