If my writing process were to be put into pie chart form, I would definitely have some larger pie slices and some smaller ones. For example, my “exploration” slice would not be very sizable. When researching for the two papers, I often found myself getting frustrated because I had a specific type of source in mind but I could never find it so I would usually end up settling for one that I thought was ok. This wasn’t the story with all of my sources, however, because I did find some sources that I was very happy about which makes that slice a little bit bigger than it would have been otherwise. To combat this difficulty, I found that analyzing other papers that contained a variety of sources was helpful. I’m a visual learner so by seeing how another person dealt with their variety of sources was very beneficial to my writing. A much larger slice of my writing process pie would be the “expression” slice. I enjoy using metaphors to express my points because I think it gets them across more clearly and makes them more understandable. I utilized that technique in my papers and I think it went well. One thing that I will take with me to other writing situations is using rough drafts more often. I’ve always been the type of writer that likes to brainstorm within my brain but after taking this TWRT 211 class, I’ve realized that if I’m able to just get all of my ideas out on paper so that I’m able to read it, I’m able to generate more ideas. This quarter has only been my second quarter since returning to school so I am thankful that I took this class so early because understanding my writing process and learning how to effectively pre-write will help me tremendously in future classes.
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To describe to you, the reader, what kind of writer I am, let me use a metaphor. Throughout this quarter, my life as a writer has been similar to the life of a bomb squad member. I know that it sounds like a strange metaphor but after a lot of thought, it seems to make the most sense. Bomb diffusers have time limits, much like I had throughout the quarter. Being a full-time student and a full-time worker has been time consuming so deadlines have been a little tougher to beat than they have been in previous parts of my writing life. Although bomb diffusers must work in a short amount of time, they also have a lot of important work to do so they must be efficient. I had to be efficient with my work as well and could not afford to waste time. Even though bomb diffusers have only a short amount of time to work with, they cannot cut corners to achieve their goal. I did not want to use my lack of time as an excuse throughout the quarter. Not once did I request an extension and I finished everything that I knowingly had to do on time. The only time I did not turn in something on time was when I didn’t realize that I had to turn it in on catalyst but it was at least done before the deadline. To be a great bomb diffuser, I’ll have to be more aware of those deadlines because those kinds of mistakes would not fly in that profession. The reason why I believe that I am most like a bomb diffuser is because I was meticulous, yet efficient and I was able to diffuse every bomb (or finish every paper). I cut all of the right wires and accomplished my goals without death or dismemberment which makes me believe that it was a successful quarter.
Well the quarter is coming to a close and this blog is coming to an end. For the last blog, let me reflect on my writing challenges for the research essay. I learned a lot by having to write the final essay, not only knowledge wise but technique wise as well. My biggest challenge was trying to get the paper to smoothly flow. With my schedule, I did not have time to write an eight page paper all at once like I usually prefer. I believe that a paper written in one sitting will typically flow, at least for me, a lot better than one that is written in multiple sittings. My brain constantly wants to wander and come up with new ideas but sometimes those ideas clash with ones that I had previously had. Getting those separate styles to cooperate was difficult but I believe it turned out well in the end. Fortunately my paper’s topic was one that I was interested in so it was easy for me to display my thoughts.
We have used a variety of digital mediums in our TWRT 211 class to express our thoughts and research including Powerpoint presentations and these blogs. Each medium has had it’s own effect on my writing techniques and each has benefited me. First off, the blogs have helped me realize what my writing process looks like. This has been important because I have noticed that if you don’t talk about something out loud, you don’t always see the full picture. By discussing my writing process in the blogs, I’ve noticed certain strengths and weaknesses of my pre-writing skills that I had not previously thought about. By bringing to light those weaknesses, I now know what I can do to better prepare myself for papers. Another thing that I have found useful with the blogs is that it has helped me to elaborate more on sources that I used in my papers. By having to examine a source in more depth, I’ve found other pieces of information within the source that I have found useful for the papers. Powerpoint has helped my writing process tremendously as well. I believe that Powerpoint has made my papers more organized. I now look at each slide like a potential paragraph or series of paragraphs depending on how long they are. By including just the key facts on the Powerpoint slides, it shows me what I need to go more in depth on. Each bullet is like a sentence and there are explanation sentences between each of them. I know that if my Powerpoint presentations are organized and I follow those presentations when I write, my papers will be organized as well. It’s a great guiding tool and has made my pre-writing techniques stronger. Overall, the digital mediums that I have used throughout the quarter have influenced me in positive ways.
Another source that I found that will be useful is an article titled, “Internet and young people: how ethical can it be?” It was written by Goncalo Jorge Morais da Costa in order to show how internet use in adolescents can negatively impact the way that they mature. What caught my eye originally in the article was how Morais da Costa believed that internet use was making children become more socially isolated which is one of the claims that I made in my paper outline. In the article, Morais da Costa says, “The youths’ age group that spend infinite hours on-line and limit their social interactions equally with their fellow creatures can become socially isolated, for that, the inherent opportunity to improve their social capacities disappears.” When a child learns to communicate through a technological medium, they do not know how to converse with a person face to face. This is something that I had thought was occurring a while ago and it was nice to see that someone else was seeing the same things. Another thing that Morais da Costa talks about is the issue of internet etiquette or “Netiquette.” As children develop social skills online, they realize that they can say whatever they want online and this becomes a problem. Morais da Costa states, “There are a number of challenges here because there is no tone of voice and no body language that gives us clues in our day-to-day in person communications (Scheuermann & Taylor, 1997). It is also easy to disguise who you really are (Langford, 2000). A child can pose as an adult, a young man, or as an old woman.” These are the wrong things for children to be learning because those actions can lead to many problems later in life. Both this article and Ferguson’s article that I analyzed in my previous blog entry show the negative effects of technology on teenagers, just in different ways. Ferguson focused more on the learning process and Morais da Costa focused on social topics. Both bring up points that I wanted to cover in my paper because they both show how technology is harming teens.
An outside source that I found rather interesting for my paper was an article titled, “How Computers Make Our Kids Stupid” by Sue Ferguson. Obviously by looking at the title, it relates to Nicholas Carr’s article, “Is Google making us stupid?” There are differences however. First of all, Carr’s article focused more on Google and the Internet but Ferguson’s article focuses more on the computer as a whole. Throughout the article, she talks about the many things that a computer can do that can harm a childs education. It’s not just the internet that is detrimental, it’s also the games that you can play on them. Ferguson’s article is found in a psychology database so she also focuses on how certain aspects of computer games can also harm a childs individuality and creativity. The internet is full of propaganda that tells a person how to be. Adults typically have the maturity to not let that propaganda affect them too much but if a child is exposed to it, they are more likely to guide them in potentially harmful directions. Ferguson does, however, believe that technology does have a place in a learning environment in moderation. If it’s overused, problems occur. In her article, she states, “While computers clearly have a place in education (Waldorf introduces them in Grade 9), the evidence is mounting that our obsessive use of information technology is dumbing us down, adults as well as kids. While they can be engaging and resourceful tools for learning — if used in moderation — computers and the Internet can also distract kids from homework, encourage superficial and uncritical thinking, replace face-to-face interaction between students and teachers, and lead to compulsive behaviour.” Both Ferguson and Carr would probably agree with the points made in each other’s articles. Both talk about how distracting the objects found on the internet can be. There may be too much stimulation on the internet for a teenager’s developing brain but it is all about moderation.
The first of two big papers of the quarter is now over and done with. I wrote it with a little more preparation than I usually do and we’ll see how well it worked for me when I get my grade for it back. I think it was a little easier to write four pages by stretching out the idea process throughout the beginning of the quarter because it gave me a little more time to form connecting thoughts about the subject of digital literacy. I think talking about the subject in small groups helped me a lot also because it provided me different ways of seeing the subjects that we were reading about as a class. I can always come up with my own ideas from a text but by talking about them with classmates, it allows my brain to think even deeper. Another thing that I believed helped me was thinking of the subject more personally. I found myself thinking about how the subject of digital literacy applies to me in my life and it made me want to read more about it. Overall, I think the process of writing that I used for the first paper will help me tremendously for the second.
For our most recent source of knoledge on how technology is changing the way we think, read and write, we examined a book called “A Better Pencil.” The book was written by Dennis Baron who is the Professor of English and Linguistics at the University of Illinois, showing that he is, in fact, a credible source. Baron starts the book by explaining how writing transformed into something that was more authoritative and authentic from something that was once considered a novelty. People began trusting the written word more and more after writing became popular instead of relying on speech like they had previously been used to. According to writings by Plato and Socrates, writing was something that should not be used because it weakened the memory. Baron uses this example to show how new technologies can have harmful effects. Even today there are people who are very skeptical of technology and of how messages are delivered so easily through technology. Baron then goes into how technology has been changing the way that people write ever since writing began. He uses the example of how some anti-technology people still insist on using the still popular pencil or some romantic people still prefer to use quills. A familiar argument of the class that Baron brings up is how computers have made writing too easy. Much like in Carr’s article, “Is Google Making Us Stupid?” Baron talks about how computers take a lot of the hard parts of writing like spelling correctly and makes them easy which, in turn, makes the quality of our writing decline. Another familiar argument is the one on how information can be found on the internet that isn’t necessarily true. Information on sites like Wikipedia can be editted by anyone which can cause information to be invalid. By examining Baron’s book, it seems to me that Baron would likely side with Carr.
After presenting my Powerpoint, I was able to see what a few of my strengths were and also see some of the areas that I could improve upon. First of all, I would like to improve upon quote usage. I did not use any quotes in my Powerpoint and after I watched a few other presentations, I realized that some quotes would add strength to my presentation. Another thing that I would like to do is focus my research a little more. My Powerpoint is a little more broad than I would like so I’d like to add some more details to make it show that I’m travelling in a single direction. One more thing that I would like to do is re-title some of my slides in order to make them fit the theme of a story like I did with the rest of my presentation. I think the story theme is actually one of my strengths. I was told that I’m a master of using figurative language so I believe by utilizing that style, I could come up with an interesting essay that may even over rule the distractions of the internet if it ever reached the web. Another strength I believe that I had was that my slides were not too lengthy. I think that by keeping them short and also by using smaller, less distracting images, I was able to keep the attention of the audience a little better. Overall, I plan to use quotes and studies in order to provide a more detailed and thorough essay. I also plan to utilize my creativity in a way that will not form opinons but would be like a translator for people that know nothing about the topic. People may not realize that the internet could be good for us or bad for us but most people do know that Batman is good and the Joker is evil. I believe metaphors will be my best friend.
It’s been a few weeks since the quarter started now and we’ve examined some interesting texts and videos that elaborate on our course’s topic: how is technology changing literacy? We’ve examined a text from Nicholas Carr stating his fears about how people are becoming too reliant on technology. According to Carr, we should be afraid of companies like Google because their technology has been moving towards an artificial intelligence theme that would have the capabilities to be even more intelligent than the human brain. Also according to Carr, the web is providing too many opportunities for multi-tasking which is harming the way that we deeply think about things. On the other side of the argument, we have Damon Darlin’s article in which he explains how technology is an engineer’s best friend. According to Darlin, technological advances lead to other, more important technological advances. More recently, however, we examined a special program called Digital Nation. It was an interesting view on how technology is helping and/or harming the way that the younger generation is learning. On one side of the argument, there were studies shown that indicate that multi-tasking people are unable to focus nearly as well as someone who is concentrating on one activity. On the other side of the argument, there are schools that are beginning to use more technology in their classrooms and it is improving test scores, attendance, and decreasing violence. The video shows that perhaps by integrating technology into education instead of fighting it, perhaps our younger generation will move away from that “dumb” label that some people like Mike Bauerlein like to use. Also in the video, the argument about if technology is secluding us or is bringing us together is introduced. Yes, people oftentimes have their attention glued to their machines more than people in person but they also are talking to more people than ever before. It’s a debate that will likely go on for quite some time.