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Reflecting: Gardner Campbell

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I recently watched and read both a video presentation and a short essay by father of the DS106, Gardner Campbell, and I must say that he hit many topics right on the nail that I would agree with.

First off, I would like to express that I am firmly in the camp that all students should take a class at least close to something like DS106. Any class that teaches some sort of computer literacy is to me just as important as a grammar or countless other general education classes, especially today. In today’s society, we need everyone leaving the college for the work field to be literate in computers on at least a basic level. I figured computer literacy for college students was a given pretty much until this semester in my hybrid micro computers class. Many students in college don’t have a grasp on a little more than just the basic of computers (those basics being small tasks like how to surf the web or deleting a file). Even I find my self learning something I never gave much thought and I pretty much grew up with computers since I was in elementary school. That needs change. Students shouldn’t graduate without learning more than what counted as computer literacy in 1997.

That being said, Campbell touched on a subject in his essay, “A Personal Cyberinfrastructure,” that struck me. When he brought up the phrase “medium is the message” and the hesitation to embrace these new ways of communicating by teachers, it was something I related to. Sometimes this hesitation is what keeps progress from happening.

Take for example, my second semester in college. My psychology professor’s refusal to move her class forward technology wise made her class 500% more difficult for not only her students, but i’m sure for her as well. There was no use of blackboard, e-mails were practically useless, no e-books to save money college students so badly need, and god forbid you even looked like you had a phone in your lap or she heard some sort of vibration. It made the class feel inefficient, backwards and needlessly complicated. Especially in comparison to the English class I took that same semester with a professor that fully embraced not only the technology provided by the school, but technology people living in the modern age take for granted (digital books, PDF files, looking up things using phones and laptops during class, being able to make up classes online if the professor couldn’t make it for class and many, many other ways). English ended up being one of my favorite classes I’ve taken in college so far, where as I hated psychology so much after this horrible experience I decided that wasn’t the minor for me after all.

There need to be an embrace of the way things are changing today. Sure it may be scary to some but in a college environment, we can’t afford to be afraid of progress because “we don’t know.” We are all here to learn, and students and professors (especially professors) alike need to be aware of that. These tools are here to help us, it shouldn’t be seen as a something that hinders us. We should be willing to adopt these things. More often than not, the benefits outweigh the disadvantages. In the video presentation, “No Digital Facelifts,” he referred to these leaps in tech as “bags of gold” that were aren’t taking advantage of. Were too busy trying to avoid learning or acknowledging that there maybe a better way of doing things rather than trying to tap true potential with what’s right in front of us, easily accessible and free (or at least cheap).

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