A Look Back

This has  been an interesting semester for me. The time has flown at a dizzying rate. A busy school schedule, a brutal work schedule, and an always hectic family have all left me with barely enough time to even sleep. Couple all of that with the fact that every medical calamity possible seems to have happened over the last few months and it becomes easy to see why time has been my greatest enemy this semester. It’s been a delicate balance that I have barely been able to maintain.

With all of that said, there has been one saving grace: English 3372. I actually looked forward to going to this class. All around it has been greatly enjoyable. From my fellow students all the way up to the professor, everything in this class made it seem less like something I have to do and more like something I wanted to do. The lessons learned here have been ones that I hope and believe will aid me far in to the future. What are those lessons? Let me expound!

Web 2.0 Technologies

I consider myself to be pretty darned savvy when it come to computers, technology, and the internet. I have to be because it is my job to be. As a computer tech, you must keep your knowledge fresh and current or the world will pass you by before you know it. I must admit that I was lacking in some areas though. I never really did understand what exactly a “Web 2.0” is or how it was supposed to be different from the normal web. I always assumed that it was just some buzz word that was latched on to in order to make the same old stuff sound new and exciting. Apparently I was wrong. Take a screenshot because I don’t admit though often.

I am not going to go over these Web 2.0 tools again. If you want to know my feelings on the tools we used in this class you can look back at my last post on this subject. No, what I want to discuss here is what my experience using these tools was like. Using the Web 2.0 tools provided and discussed in English 3372 started out as more of a hassle than anything else. I didn’t want to use Twitter or blog. This is an English class damn it! Let me write my papers and get the hell out! My attitude in the beginning was completely wrong. <—-Screenshot

Using these tools made collaboration with my fellow students easier than I could imagine. Also, being able to do my homework from any computer or phone made an amazing difference in how easy this class was for me. All I have to do is Tweet a few things for class? Sweet, let me pull out my phone! All I have to do is write a blog post on WordPress? Awesome, got an app on my phone for that and my work computer doesn’t have their site blocked! Dropbox? Pfft, more like easy as pie box, right guys? Okay, maybe that one is a bit much, but you get my point.

Collaboration

As I mentioned in the previous section, collaboration with my fellow students was made much easier using these tools. Everyone has a busy schedule so getting time to meet up and put our heads together was impossible. What we did have though was email, Twitter, and Dropbox. These tools enabled us to put our ideas together and update them on a mostly regular basis.

Just about every college student will tell you that group projects are the worst. It’s just a given that you will have certain people in your group. I will handily list them.

  1. The in charge guy/girl – This is the person who assumes control of the group immediately. Usually this person is also the one person everyone in the group dislikes the most. Strangely enough, people initially bend to their will.
  2. The “what?” person – This person is absolutely clueless. They don’t understand the project or what is needed from them to accomplish it. They need their hand held through the entire process. At least they do the work though.
  3. The absentee person – This person shows up for group meetings, has lots to say, and is usually the same person as the in charge guy/girl. They just aren’t doing their part though. Usually they believe that participating in discussions is enough. The grunt work should be left up to everyone else!
  4. The smart guy/girl – This is true backbone of any group project. 90% of the work is typically done by this person. It happens because he/she lets it happen. You see, it is easier for them to do the work than it is to complain to anyone in charge. Teachers typically don’t care how the job gets done, they just want it done. The smart guy/girl will not let the incompetence of her group members drag his/her grade down.

Obviously you can mix and match these people, but anyone who has ever had a group project will nod their head in agreement with this list. The great part about my group project this semester: none of those people existed in my group! Surely you are thinking that everyone needs a smart guy/girl in their group. Well, that is correct and we had that person in our group. More to the point, my whole group was that person. Everyone doing their part to ensure the success of the project was the theme and goal of our group. It worked. By god, it actually worked!

What Did I Learn?

Honestly, and I am sorry Dr. Hara, but I did not learn any new information in this class. What I did learn though was to appreciate many of the tools we used. Before English 3372, I had absolutely no appreciation for social media. I knew how to use it because I had to stay relevant, but I didn’t care about social media. I assumed that things like Facebook, Twitter, and similar networking sites were simply flash in the pan trends. I was wrong! <—-Screenshot Social media is not just a trend; it is the future. Citizen journalists are becoming more and more prevalent. Social media is being used to usher in revolutions, coordinate civil wars, and to topple corrupt governments. The whole world is getting smaller than we could have ever imagined and this is largely being facilitated by social media.

Again, appreciation was the lesson learned here. Now that I have an appreciation for these tools, I can assure you that I will not forget that. I will incorporate social media in to my life like I have never done before. From making myself more visible to anonymously espousing controversial opinions, social media is now a part of how I do these things. It’s a brave new world for me. All I can do is ride this train and see where it take me.

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