Stuff I read and what I think about it: Week 4 Reading Response

Stuff I read:

What I think:

The theme for this week’s reading response is “The Perfection of Blogging”. In the required and optional texts for Week 4, the most recurrent theme is the implications and impact of academic blogging as a form of scholarly communication (i.e. publishing). Instead of submitting a paper to a peer-reviewed journal for publication, professors and instructors (as well as everyone else) have the ability to simply post their creations on a WordPress site. However, as the act of self-publishing online differs greatly from more traditional forms of publishing, it raises numerous questions about the text itself, authorship/identity, and literacy. Outside of the restrictions of the traditional publishing model, blogs can be published instantly, updated consistently, and include all sorts of digital content. By offering numerous technical features in an easy to use format, blogging provides the closest thing to a direct connection to the offline user. Through permitting users to include content from any number of sources (links, embedded media, comments), blogs acknowledge the communicative and collaborative aspects of authorship. In allowing users to edit and update their content, blogging as a medium recognizes the inherent differences between print and digital text.

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My Main Insights

So much expression: As bloggers put their “private lives in public spaces”, their output  epitomizes the act of expressing oneself digitally.Although the purposes of blogs can range from academic/professional to personal interest, they inevitably combine aspects of both worlds. The specific reasons for this include the user-friendly technological capabilities, the consistent blending of personal and professional, and the acknowledgement of collaboration as an inextricable component of publishing. Outlets like Facebook and Twitter offer outlets for creating and contributing to an online identity, but blogging allows for the development of a much more comprehensive self-narrative. They are very easy to use and offer a plethora of different technical options. Users can share media, assign categories, interact with comments, and (overall) make their blog an extension of themselves. Even when bloggers choose to delete content or not include a piece of content in the first place, it inevitably reveals their inner-workings. In short, users have more of an active hand in forming their identity than ever before.

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Combining (and publishing) it all: More than any other form of digital communication (and publication), the act of blogging acknowledges  collaboration as an inherent trait of human existence and (in turn) publishing. Prior to the arrival of digital resources and (specifically) online publishing, academics and researchers were restricted to the traditional “print” model of scholarly communication (i.e. submitting articles to journals and books to publishers). These processes typically included an intense review process and several months before the materials were available. They were credited as the only author(s) and had to wait for the opportunity to put out a new edition before making any updates. By using a blog as an outlet for self-publishing, academics (and other users) face much fewer limitations. Users can instantly post content online, combine digital media in many formats, and include links and content from several different sources. In some cases, blogs are collective efforts from several people. Overall, blogging gives credit where credit is due.

Text is HYPER: Blogging has (and continues to) transform the ways in which people publish content. Prior to the arrival of digital culture, authors were limited to the page and typewriter. Print resources are “finite” in that they are self-contained and cannot be edited immediately. The “live” or “ongoing” nature of blog content differs greatly from traditional publishing because the author can change their creation by simply logging in and making edits. They often include links to other resources, multimedia, and comments from other users.  These distinguishing characteristics raise many important questions about authorship, publication, and literacy. If a post includes links and media from other sources (RSS Feeds, user comments, collective blogging), then it is apparent that there are, in fact, multiple authors with valuable contributions. They are a new type of text that requires a new type of literacy.

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All about the attitude: The suggested readings for this week served as excellent accompaniments to the required text. As prime examples of academic blogging, they illustrate the fact that acceptance of the “collaborative” nature of scholarly publishing and the future of education. In his article on the mindset of educators, Sean Michael Morris makes a very convincing case for how we should approach to changes in pedagogical technology (Digital Pedagogy Lab) . Rather than employing blind acceptance or rejection of these changes, it is most effective to combine optimism and skepticism. The article by George Siemens furthers this point by explaining the need for passion among advocates combined with a realistic knowledge of how new learning technology works. Mike Caulfield furthers this point in his watchmaker analogy by pointing out the gradual, sectional character of advancements in course-ware. Lastly, Jon Becker’s post reveals that faculty and other educators have a will to learn and enhance their professional skill sets. In summary, we educators must optimistically and realistically embrace the gradual changes in educational technology.

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Regarding Libraries: I selected an article on digital literacy and transferable skills in public librarians that set out to determine how ready are librarians to assist their patrons with these abilities and the areas in which they feel they could benefit from additional training. The results revealed that there are indeed gaps in librarian abilities (social media, eBooks, PC troubleshooting, management, assessment, and others), librarians feel that digital and transferable skills were equally important, and that they are very enthusiastic about the prospect of more ongoing training (in and out of library school). More than anything else, this article revealed a mindset that I am proud to share: advancing your skill set does not have to be restricted to one are (technological, etc.) and that improvement often comes in many areas simultaneously.

Searching for Celebrities in the Library: DS106 Design Assignment

When I first encountered the “design” category on the DS106 Assignment Bank, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Unlike the other assignments I’ve completed so far, this one does not specify which medium I will use. When I think design, I imagine audio, video, images, and just about every other form of digital output. In a moment of extreme bravery, I clicked the “random” button (even though the term bothers me due to it’s over misuse).

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The assignment I encountered seemed like a lot of fun! I was tasked with designing a menu! I am a long time restaurant buff and have always imagined what might make a good menu. The assignment allows for any type of layout design software. Since I already have InDesign experience, I looked for another potential outlet.

A google search for “menu design” revealed a TON of tools that I could use. I took a look at imenupro as an option, but shortly after discovered it isn’t free! Same with menudesignshop. NEXT!

Finally, I found Canva. After some investigation, I learned that all it requires is a free sign-up and is very user friendly! They even offer free templates, images, and illustrations

Now that I have my assignment and tools, all I needed was a good theme. I could easily just list a bunch of food items, but there needed to be some unique “quirk” to utilize. After a brief period of frustration, I noticed that one of the patrons in my library was reading an article about the favorite foods of celebrities. An enormous light bulb went off in my brain. Why don’t I search the web for this topic and design my menu based on these foods?! Not exactly library related, but I discovered the article in my library!

I began by selecting a basic template for a diner. I liked the font and arrangement and felt it would be easy to put my own marks on it. Next, I organized the food categories and entered the favorite foods of celebrities. One of the best things about Canva is the “copy” feature that makes it easy to ensure all the sections are the same size and format. Once all the sections were complete, I added some free stock photos and images that fit with my theme.

Once I finished up, I downloaded a jpeg and Pdf. Overall, it was a very fun experience!

Perhaps better than any other assignment I’ve completed thus far, this one is an excellent depiction of typical library computer usage. People have the power of database searching at their fingertips, but they often choose to focus on seemingly trivial matters (myself included)

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In which the author learns to pace himself: Week 3 Reflection

Since beginning this course up to the most recently completed assignments (and even the current moment, right now), I thought about something an old college friend of mine had a habit of saying, “This will not end well.”

bad omen

His tone was typically playful and sarcastic. Some of the contexts of him saying this included inviting too many people to a party, taking an hour long drive at 3AM, or selecting a questionable item from the dining hall. Whenever I asked him for clarification (sometimes offended by his lack of faith in me, events, other people), he would clarify, “If you’re a pessimist you’re always pleasantly surprised.” This retort made sense to me for far too long. Being a pessimist compels me to over-exert myself when it is not necessary to do so. It sometimes make me worry about every little detail in the classroom, office, and personal life. I’m a happy guy, but can be a little neurotic sometimes.

Based on my experiences with these sentiments and beliefs, this week has been the greatest success at all. Instead of worrying, I paced myself and had more fun!

I had an excellent time completing the assignments this week. Instead of working on several assignments simultaneously, I took on one at a time and successfully finished each one. I always knew multitasking was a myth. 

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The DS106 Video Assignment got me out of my comfort zone. Like many people who are no longer young (relatively speaking), I was terrified of Snapchat. Very few people I know use it and it is often looked on with disdain. Specifically, I know lots of people who find it useless. Luckily for me, I figured it out in half an hour and was able to put a video I recorded in reverse within one hour. Not so painful!

The daily creates, being dailycreates, were fun. I waited for some that required skills I had not yet acquired! By skills, I mean drawing. My childhood home drawing pretty good though!

The readings were probably the most challenging part. Since I resolved to read absolutely everything listed this week, I had to devote a significant amount of time each day to carefully going over each text. This is where the annotations were extremely effective! I truly felt that I learned a lot from my classmates and am hoping I can consistently return the favor (hint: I know I will). This assignment provided me with yet another example of the effectiveness of social learning. I enjoy this part the most.

I can honestly say that I am completely pleased with the pace and quality of my work this week! That’s never happened to me before (well, rare).

The larger issues surrounding my work continue to grow and become more succinct. With my theme of “Libraries and Librarianship”, I am thrilled to have the opportunity to read so much about OER because it ties directly into these issues. As the world transforms continuously and digital media expands with it, libraries and librarians will play a key role in guiding people to free and open resources. I certainly felt an increase in my professional pride.

For next week, the struggle will be to keep it up! I intend to set aside a couple of hours each day for my coursework. By “set aside”, I really mean mark it in my calendar and stick to it. Usually, I complete my work on an as needed basis (i.e. whenever I have free time). By pacing myself, enjoying the work as much as possible (which I do!), and focusing on my learning and growth, my work might turn out even better than before!

Self Evaluation: Exceeding. I like to think so!

 

 

Stuff I Read and What I Think About It: Week 3 Reading Response

Stuff I Read:

What I Think:

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The theme of this week’s response is “Us and Them to Us and Us”. This statement has significance in many ways when discussing the reading for week 3 of ILT5340. The discussion of the origins and current impact of “Do It Yourself” (DIY) in the required text for this week by Lankshear and Knobel, in combination with the optional readings on Open Educational Resources and Hypothes.is, provided me with several profound insights into the current cultural landscape (especially education):

Us & Us: The emergence of DIY as a cultural value has transformed our roles. Prior to this societal shift, we were consumers whereas we are now “produsers”. Instead of passively absorbing and consuming content under the industrial model of the past, digital media and its many forms have given users power and agency by allowing them to remix and reuse preexisting content to come up with something original. Specific examples of this include composing and remixing music (Hip Hop, Jamaican Ska music), distribution (Punk Rock), creating videos and trailers for movies, and other media like podcasts.

Everyone is an expert: The context of education provides the perfect example for observing the impact of DIY values on culture. The availability of affinity spaces both in-person and online (meetup groups, tutorials, chat boards). This is especially apparent in the case of Open Educational Resources. These resources (textbooks, courses, other materials) are free and available for anyone to use and are not restricted by traditional copyright and notions of “ownership”. In many cases, the students take an active role in the ongoing development of textbooks and other resources by adding comments and providing feedback via programs like Hypothes.is. The process of asking the question of “who owns what” reveals the ways in which traditional notions of ownership and copyright fall short.

Involvement is improvement: In several of the readings, discussions of Open Educational Resources and Copyright provide examples of how participation is key to the future of education. In short, Open Resources and active participation (even from students and non-experts) make the materials and educational experiences better for everyone. In Robin DeRosa’s account of developing an open textbook, she describes the process of student participation via Hypothes.is and how beneficial it was for the quality of the course and text. With the knowledge that they are contributing to the success of the course and future classes, the students took their roles very seriously and were given a strong sense of purpose. After all, who better than students to determine what works and what doesn’t? This sentiment is also expressed in Remi Holden’s discussion of annotating with Hypothes.is in public. The more people can see and contribute to the ongoing discussion, the better the result. Involvement promotes better understanding across the board.

The texts by Audrey Watters provided an excellent case study for observing the conflict between a traditional understanding of copyright and ownership with the societal changes inspired by DIY values. After a student developed an impressive app, a school board decided that it “belonged to them” and received lots of backlash.

For my interest-driven reading, I selected an article about the concept of the “flipped classroom”. In this study, a librarian and two faculty members collaborated to deliver a flipped classroom experience to nutrition students at a university. The students were provided with a library study guide as well as many videos and activities to create a more active, “hands-on” learning environment. They were given the materials ahead of time so they could learn at their own pace and come to class ready to contribute. This involved a lot of group learning and self-directed work completion. In short, the students were given more agency in their roles as learners in order to take matters into their own hands by “doing” rather than “learning”. The assessment (pre and post testing, survey) results revealed that students felt better prepared to access relevant scholarly information (the original goal) and felt that their “active” role was particularly effective for learning. I selected this article because it reveals the “pull” as opposed to “push” model of learning. Instead of passively taking a predetermined “program”, students were required to display initiative and succeeded as the result.

The student has become the master:

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Help me help you help me help you: Week 3 Digital Story Critique

At the end of last week, my commitment to finding new outlets for digital stories to critique grew stronger than ever. Although I may decide to use a TEDTalk or Reddit for a story critique down the road, I wanted to try something else. As a reminder, not only do I have to find digital stories that interest me, but also try my best to locate ones that fit my aforementioned theme of “Libraries and Librarianship”. In the process, however, I found a story on the (admittedly conventional) outlet of YouTube while searching for “library stories”.  I happened upon a video titled “Education and Empowerment at the New York Public Library” and was immediately sold:

I love the New York Public Library. Having spent many a free day perusing their collection, I find it to be a deeply inspiring place. With such a diverse population and a plethora of services to accommodate the needs of so many different users, the NYPL is definitely on a mission to help so many people “do it themselves”. Specific examples include improving early childhood literacy, providing a place for K-12 students for academic success, and allowing so many people to access the internet (who cannot at home).

My critique of this digital story will focus on the following criteria: Story, Research, and Media Grammar.

Story-This promotional video displayed an adequate command of storytelling. The video opens with an introduction that includes the library’s mission to “inspire lifelong learning, advance knowledge, and strengthen our communities.” From this point, the viewer is taken through a series of personal interviews that illustrate the library as a place of empowerment for many different user types. The only area in which the “story” aspect of the video falls short is that they could have gone farther with this approach. Including more interviews and personal stories would definitely enrich the experience.

Research– The Librarians of NYPL (or whoever directed this video, metadata does not reveal the specific author) provide a lot of helpful research. The most apparent instance of this is the selection of so many individuals to provide glowing testimonials. Furthermore, the inclusion of statistics on childhood literacy, the NYC immigrant population, and internet access help drive the point that “libraries empower users” home. More often than not, thorough research (including statistics) can only help a narrative rather than detract from it. Using TOO MUCH research, however, can also be detrimental, but this video includes just enough.

Media Grammar– The high production value, background music, and clear testimonials revealed absolutely no technological hiccups. The story flows together very nicely and each section includes the perfect transition to the next one. I’ve encountered many similar videos with uneven sound levels, sloppy video editing, and a lack of coherence between sections. Lastly, the section titles were easy to see and clearly established the content of each part of the video This was a very effective story in terms of media grammar.

Overall, an excellent digital story. The only improvements I can think of are including more testimonials. No digital story is perfect, but so many are VERY VERY GOOD!

My earliest memory of the New York Public Library (I feel like I was actually present):

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