Homework: Reflect on and write a short text about your overall impressions of this 6-week workshop, what you've achieved, and what you plan to do with your newly-acquired know-how. Post your reflections to our YG list, or post them on your blog and send the link to the YG list.
This experience has been incredible.
Understand this: I remember life before computers, the Internet, and email. I remember being assigned an email address at the university where I work (I think it was in the 80s) and wondering what I would ever want with an email account anyway—wasn’t it just a way to receive more junk mail than the mailman already brought to my house? (This, unfortunately, turned out to be partly true.) I remember laboriously learning to use MS Word by copying my grandfather’s 12-page autobiography on an early Macintosh. My first home computer, a little Mac Plus, lacked even a hard drive!
Fast forward to 2006. At home, I have a PC with a cable modem, running Windows XP. At work, I have a new flat-screen PC on my desk and a fully-equipped ASC multi-media lab to teach in. I have 3 email accounts and check my email more often than strictly necessary. I use my word-processor for course-related materials. I attempted (unsuccessfully) to create a webpage for work. I’ve been teaching in the fancy-schmancy lab, but have done nothing very original or innovative or even availed myself of many of the bells and whistles (even those I know about!). I’ve gotten my feet wet with WebCT, our current campus online teaching tool. But my attempts to create a webpage have been abandoned. I don’t know what an MP3 player is. A young friend in China recommended I get Skype so we can talk, but I didn’t do it. I visited a friend’s blog but never left a comment. There is SO MUCH I don’t know, and the technology keeps changing! I am overwhelmed.
Enter EVOnline. To be honest, I would not have signed up if there had not been some pressure to do so. I almost forgot to sign up, in fact, and when I remembered late in the afternoon of January 15, I didn’t give much thought to which course to take—just picked BaW as the one that looked the most suitable for a total newbie. Providential!
It’s hard to describe my overall impression of this experience. One thing is certain: it’s not been like anything I have ever done before. It has been like a whirlwind of new experiences: making online friends (something I never thought possible), exploring resources I never knew existed, attending sessions at Tapped In, Alado, and Worldbridges. I’ve gotten pretty proficient at text chat. I’ve installed Skype and YM and acquired 2 headsets (one at home, one at work), enabling me to talk not only to my friend in China but also to old friends in California, Taiwan, and Mexico, as well as BaW friends in Sweden, Russia, and France. I’ve tried my hand at serious multitasking: listening, and at times speaking, while reading and participating in text chat and looking at a Power Point presentation. (I managed, sort of, until I also tried to follow a link, when I kind of got lost.) I’ve participated in the YahooGroups discussion and checked out almost all the links on the main site and the YG. (I intend to go back to those I have missed.) I still don’t know what an MP3 player is, but I now know what webcasts and podcasts are. I even have my own blog (but no webpage—yet)! I have been carefully avoiding anything to do with wikis, which were not officially part of the curriculum, but I am pretty sure that I will be learning about them in the future (maybe in BaW-07, which I am already planning to be part of). At the Maryland English Institute, where I work, BaW has transformed me from a reluctant technophobe to someone who is seen as having some expertise in this area. Who could have foretold that? I introduced Skype to my best friend, who happens to be very tech-savvy (from my point of view anyway), and we can now chat regularly for the first time in 35 years. Finally, I feel more competent around technology. I am less timid than I was previously—not only about the Internet, but also with other forms of technology—a jammed photocopier, for example. I attribute my newfound boldness to BaW. It’s the “webhead mentality” I have heard about!
So what do I intend to do with my newly-acquired know-how? First, I intend to build on it. There was such a wealth of information available, so many links I didn’t have the time to explore fully or at all, so much I want to go back and revisit. (I still need to find out about wikis, remember!) Not to mention the fact that technology transforms itself with such lightning speed that just staying up-to-date requires constant vigilance. Second, I intend to use it to make my classes more interesting and fun, and to stay in touch with the people I’ve met during the past 6 weeks. Third, I plan to share it with my colleagues. But my strongest recommendation to them is to sign up for BaW-07. What an adventure this has been!