Bri Colorful

Archive for December 2010

Enjoy me signing a children’s story: The Quiltmaker’s Gift by Jeff Brumbeau for my final presentation (if you know ASL that is). This story is especially special to me because my grandmother was a magical quiltmaker before she passed away from cancer. Our family cabin at Bear Lake is decorated with beautiful wall quilts she made during her lifetime.

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“Every country on earth is reforming public education.”

This year, I was so excited to be part of that reform. In this case, my professors (there were two who co-taught the class: Dr. Gideon Burton and Dr. Daniel Zappala) focused on the need for a change because of our growing digital culture. I totally agree that the digital revolution is a huge part of the need for reform, but I think it’s bigger than that too! We’re stuck in the same educational mindset that was conceived during the Enlightenment! (Just in case you were wondering when the Enlightenment was, I already googled it for you) That was 300 years ago! Now I’m the first to admit that there are some differences between my grandparents and me that don’t just have to do with digital media, so I cannot even begin to imagine the differences between my great, great, great, great, great, great, great grandparents!! (Don’t worry, I asked my Family History Major sister approximately how “great” my grandparents would’ve been if they lived in the 18th century). While I’ve been spending a lot of time in the 18th century for my Romantic Poetry class, I do not think I am likely to learn in the same ways they did.

Basically, the only thing that ever stays the same is change… change is inevitable. In school, I have learned that languages evolve all on their own and there’s nothing you can do to stop them. Since language is so closely tied to culture, I am sure that it follows the same pattern. Culture evolves over time. I know Tavia; I’m sorry. I understand that when you shake the rug of tradition (“TRADITION!” echoes the choir)  from under people’s feet, they feel a little off balance. Traditions are important! I make my husband read the same cheesy Christmas stories every year that I read growing up, and I still cry even though I’ve heard them a million times. But if we want to keep up with our rapidly evolving culture (and the myriad of educational opportunities it affords us), we have got to change some things!

In the past, the functionality of ‘getting an education’ or a college degree was to serve as a resume for future employment. No, I am not discrediting the ‘becoming a well-rounded individual ready to be an good, active citizen’ part of it, only emphasizing that in the end, the system works to pump out great employees. The problem is that though “you’re better having a degree than not,” a college degree is not a “guarantee” of good or steady employment anymore, “particularly not if the route to it, marginalizes most of the things you think are important about yourself” (Sir Ken Robinson, RSA talk given Oct. 14 — see the video).

What are employers looking for, if not for a college degree? Well, marketable skills actually. Maybe you’ll glean some of those in college; maybe you won’t (nowadays that really depends on you and what you put into it). The point is even if you have those marketable skills, how do potential employers know?! A college degree is not a guarantee to them that you are skilled anymore. But there is a solution! There is this great big wide open space called the internet where you can build a beautiful resume simply by being there, by participating.

Let me give you a comparison to help illustrate. You write a 15-page history paper for a college class. You spend weeks living in the library doing research and painstakingly editing this thing on your own. At the end of the semester, you hand it in to your teacher for a grade. For all your efforts you get a scratched pen mark on the top of your paper that says B+. You feel relief more than pride in your efforts. And in the end the only people who read your paper were you and the teacher’s aid who graded it. Sound familiar?

ALTERNATIVELY you could:

  • post your ideas for your paper on a blog so people can comment and make suggestions,
  • create a googledoc of the paper as you write it and invite your friends to edit (hmm, collaboration or cheating?),
  • strike up an online discussion with a bigwig historian who has done a lot of research on what you’re writing about and send him drafts of your ideas to see what he thinks as you work,
  • and even join online forums discussing your subject.

In the end, several people benefit from your research, your paper is more likely to be a real contribution to the field because you worked with an expert or experts, and eventually when you apply for a job in that field, your potential employer will probably end up googling you and finding a resume that shows not only how amazing you are, but also how far you have come. See how much more fulfilling that is?! It’s like getting a gold star in kindergarten!

So basically, our professors in Digital Civilization this semester gave us the reins to our own education and encouraged us to follow our interests and explore them in as many ways as we could while also acquiring strong digital literacy so we were capable of learning using a plethora of online tools. (Did I already use the word “plethora” in this blog post?)

What will I do with what I have learned? (I’m going to Disneyland. j/k) Not only will I apply this to my own education as I finish out my college degree, but as Grant and I plan to be parents and teachers of several little digital citizens, we hope to encourage the exploration of their own interests. That is what education should be, right? Exploring your interests, finding your niche, refining your passion into a life-long journey. I cannot wait to be a homeschool mom!

That’s why my Digital Civilizations classmates and I have been building knowledge base of tools that help us filter that information; consuming it, creating it ourselves, and connecting it to other information. On Thursday night, we’ll be presenting on a variety of projects that have increased our digital literacy and we think can increase yours.

My group has created three different formats of a website that gives tutorials/ explanations of different tools you can use to consume, create, and connect information on the internet: a blog, a wiki, and a flash prototype (to be finished soon).  Examples of some tools that we have written about that will boost your education into the digital age are listed below:

Quizlet.com – create online flashcards in seconds vs spending hours handwriting them or going through old notes. You can also find previously made flashcard sets for the subject you are studying.

Prezi.com – make more engaging presentations than your average PowerPoint slideshow.

Dropbox.com – free online storage.

Spreeder.com – read that assignment faster with this nifty tool that helps you speed-read without taking the time to learn how.

Diigo.com – bookmark, highlight, and add stickynotes to anything on the web and store it for later use or share it with someone else.

Evernote.com – gather and organize information and notes; store them on the web for later retrieval.

There’s so much more. Come learn about it at our event Thursday night from 7-9 in JKB 3108. It’s open to the everyone, whether you’re a student, professor, or just curious. If you can’t make it in person, join us at our live broadcast on Thursday at 7 at justin.tv/digiciv.

P.S. Did anyone else notice it’s snowing on my blog? It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas!! Just 10 days till we’re done with the semester and getting out of Provo!

Photo licensed under C.C. at http://www.flickr.com/photos/will-lion/2595497078/

Check it out! This is a summary of the projects that will be presented at our big event for my Digital Civilization:“Digital Revolution: Upgrading Education for Digital Civilization” at 7:00pm next Thursday, December 9. It’ll be in room 3108 in the Jesse Knight Building on Brigham Young University’s campus. I’m so excited!


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