Teaching Writing in a Digital Age

Although I’m not very old at the age of 22, I’m still at the point where my teenage self would call me an old man. This realization came along with the recognition that I’m no longer on the cutting edge of social media and technology. Despite my best efforts, I’m just not in tune with the hottest tech and social media trends of 2013. While reflecting on my weaknesses, I realized that I’m going to be increasingly relying on learning skills that come from people who are in better tune with the newer technologies. I might be able to play with  the settings and HTLM of this blog, but there are fifteen year olds who would laugh at the rest of my awareness of the current “scene”, and everything I can say here about technology and composition will grow increasingly outdated. With this is mind, I considered would I could do to best serve the future of this blog, and the position it occupies as part of the academic/educational system.
Due to my inability to master the unknown, I can only present the facets of blogging and social media that I have a mastery of. My literacy might not be cutting edge, but because it is being presented among the works of others in the field, it potentially offers some insight into this period of time and knowledge. For that reason, I offer a couple of tips for  future 708 students who will be blogging:

1. Keep track of when you’ve made posts and comments- I ended up realizing that, due to a weird technicality with the class, I was under my post goal at the end of the quarter. I had made enough comments, but due to a cancelled session, I accidentally missed one of my posts. Don’t make this mistake yourself. Make sure you make enough comments and posts, so you don’t find yourself working until the deadline.

2. A tool always has more features than you’re aware of initially. For example, you probably already noticed that WordPress lets you schedule posts to go up at certain times. However, I found that most people don’t realize that the schedule feature also lets you schedule stuff to be posted in the past. While you’ll probably never need to use this feature, taking some time to explore the tools WordPress has available to you before blogging will save you a lot of hassle later on.

3. Actually go read the posts on this blog. It is long, it is somewhat messy, and there are a ton of different voices and authors. This makes it intimidating to read, and exploring the archives is not a core part of the class, making it tempting to simply ignore. However, without a doubt, the blog posts were the single best resource I had this quarter, and I don’t think I would have made it through most of the assignments that I got through without its help. Every time I had trouble with one of the readings or subject matter, I would go browse through the blogs, and there would inevitably be somebody who provided a decent summary, or even a fresh and compelling new take on the subject. Often times, I completely disagree with the conclusion that the blog post makes. As somebody with a mixed opinion on copyrights, I found myself vigorously shaking my head in disagreement while reading a November 2012 post about plagiarism. However, by the time I had finished reading the post and disagreeing with it, I had also begun a mental articulation of why I differed on the subject and a more thorough and formalized understanding of the discussion surrounding the topic.

4. Really, these are all just generalized tips for learning. But, that’s ultimately what the scholars of this course end up revealing in their writings. New technologies don’t change the way human brains work, they just open up new avenues for reflection on features we might otherwise be oblivious to. Video games teach us about organic skill evolution (Gee), and blogs and Facebook can expose facets of social interactions, but we always had those features in our lives, albeit simplified. We learn to walk before we begin running, and it’s not like humans have ever been anti-social. We just weren’t as aware of it. These subjects are all fundamentally grounded in the human experience. What I’m trying to say here is- if you’re scared of this class, just remember that it’s not some crazy and irrational system. These technologies are built with the idea that they want you to join in and learn them. So come on in, and learn about Teaching Writing in a Digital Age.

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