Greetings and salutations, professors and master teachers, and fellow students and colleagues at Connected Courses! My name is Sheila, a student in Dr. Jaxon’s 692 course, “Digital Culture(s),” and am so happy to be a part of Connected Courses and the concept of “open access” education, even though I’m not sure what it all entails. Not only am I a digital literacy newbie (and new to the discipline of Composition), but I’m also, for the most part, new to interacting online academically, except, of course, for email and our college’s electronic platforms.
Truth be told, for the last several years, I have grappled with having a web presence/online identity–though I once had a short love affair with Facebook, a couple of years ago. All in all, I enjoyed interacting with others and sharing photos; however, after six months of spending on average about 1.5-2 hours a day on FB, that is, keeping up with friends and relatives and uploading and diligently commenting on photos, as well as trying to navigate and assuage the social drama that seemed to erupt and take on a life of itself from misunderstandings from, what I believe, were the absence of facial cues and voice tones, I realized just how much I missed how I used to spend those precious 1.5-2 hours: be it walking and jogging or hiking through a park, or working in the yard, or gleefully suspended in a piece of fiction or non-fiction, or if time really allowed, dabbling in hobbies put on hold. I also missed meeting with my friends and family in person, as well as devoting more time to the community organizations I’m involved in and serve in. (Don’t get me wrong, I still am fascinated by aspects of FB and other social media. Maybe I’ll check out Instagram? Communicating via images sounds interesting. Is there a Snapchat for older people like myself?!) Oh, I failed to mention that there was this thing called a “Master’s thesis,” creative literary project in my case, that needed to be written and rewritten, and so on. Hence, the urgency and necessity of my project was the ultimate deal breaker in my relationship with FB.
All that being said, it probably seems odd to hear that a Composition Studies’ student–one who’s recently graduated with a Master’s in English, in addition to previously completing a Bachelor’s in Linguistics and English, including TESOL certificate and minor in Creative Writing (as well as outside courses in psychology and counseling from another college source), and one who, during grad school, interned as well as taught a section of Beginning Creative Writing–is, in this age of all ages, digitally impaired.
I want to blame my lack of digital online experience on the fact that I enjoy being away from the computer and its glow of blue screen more than being on it (except when completing course work or creating a piece of fiction–don’t miss typewriters at all!), and on the fact that I grew up during the years of the Vietnam War and the things and ideas of that era, not to mention the Old World values I was raised with, things which only seem to work against me when it comes to trusting the online experience, as well as on the fact that I have spent most of my early and later adult years working in the private sector (among other things, such as all the messy things, and all the trial and tribulations, for better or worse, that come with relationships and living a life), working hard, sometimes working two jobs, as I tried my best to make ends meet and carve out a career for myself in corporate America. Of course with that commitment came the obligatory night classes at the local community college, that is, if one was interested in having a shot at moving up the corporate ladder(s), and/or keeping one’s job, especially when the “Outsourcing” phenomenon of the ’80s hit. In terms of employment, the mid ’90s for me was mainly keeping my job in the atmosphere of the resulting downsizing of jobs; working became a way of life, and what was happening in the world of the Internet didn’t seem all that important. But I digress. Granted, there’s much more to my life journey, experiences and lessons learned, but for our purposes I limit my discussion to my digital path, which at this point seems embarrassingly limited.
Okay, where am I going with this? I digress too much. Are we allowed to digress in blogs? And just what is a blog, its purpose, its intent? These questions quickly come to mind. A lot of questions revolving around the digital experience are coming to mind now that I’m taking Dr. Jaxon’s course, which involves Connected Courses, making me that much more excited about understanding and creating a digital identity, especially how it relates to teaching FYC with the digital literacy component. Yay, I feel like I’m on the cutting edge of things! What a time to learn about teaching FYC! I surmise that these emerging questions re all things digital were there all along in the back of my brain somewhere all through the years; I was just too busy trying to do relationships and life, and then school and life, in the frame I understood it. But now I see that there are so many more connections and collaborations that can be made in the ever-evolving digital world of things. Heck, even the community organizations I’m involved with could greatly benefit from digital collaboration. Now, if only I could get over the idea of a web presence/digital identity and the idea that a lot of folks are possibly going to be reading what I just blogged.
My response to “Why We Need a Why” will soon follow. My mind is still processing and digesting the information from the Connected Course webcast. So many great things on the horizon for teaching. A very exciting time, indeed. I may be a little distrustful, a little hesitant, but all in all, I’m ready to embrace the new concepts being presented to me. I just have to remember not to hit the publish button until I am ready to do so.