Archive for May, 2011

Digital Mediums

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 Useful Source

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.

Outside Sources

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.

Writing Process

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.

A Better Pencil

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.