Thursday, April 28, 2016

A Guide to Self-Directed Learning

Within my teaching, I structure my courses so that I am not assigning students everything to read or research. Within some clear parameters, I invite them to do self-directed learning. This is to help them get personally invested in our topic and to train them to be lifelong learners.

My students are generally resistant to the idea of not being assigned exactly what to read. I do give some short common readings, and they have my lectures by which to get a thematic framework for the historical periods we are studying. But after that, they are turned loose. Where to start? What to do? This is meant as a short guide to assist my students.

I believe self-directed learning works best when certain parameters are in place: clear purposes, a time structure, and accountability through documentation and sharing.

It also helps to understand the differences between types of sources and activities for learning, to vary among these, and to avoid getting stuck in the most common secondary sources. All of this I address in more detail below.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Final Reflections - Jason Peterson

My self-directed learning

The learning section of this semester occasionally felt like trying to drink from a fire hose; whatever happened to stick really well were generally the things that I felt were most significant. The activities/research I embarked upon that held the most import as far as understanding the historical periods better were watching the Nazi propaganda film Triumph of the Will, and studying Wealth of Nations & the Communist Manifesto.

Triumph of the Will was critical, as everything I see and hear about WW2 has always been from an American/Allies point of view. It is often easy to dehumanize or devalue the experience of the "others," especially in this situation when they are universally condemned as being morally wrong along with having lost the war. This film opened my eyes to how a whole other side of human experience is often hiding behind the schemas of my ethnocentric mind.

Final Reflections: Spencer Marks

My self-directed learning:
I loved the format of this part of the class. I enjoyed being able to learn in whatever way we pleased, and felt this greatly enhanced the learning experience. By far, my favorite activity that I did was looking at and handling the Wycliffe Bible in the Special Collections section of the library. I felt like I was turning history in my hands! I also enjoyed being able to look through different, more modern books on the subjects, as well as a movie I watched about Martin Luther. I really appreciate the Luther movie because it made Luther seem so much more real. It used a real quote from him in the beginning and ending scenes, where he is an old man at the end of his life, and where he talks about how the world hates him for doing what is right. He seems very tired and broken down, and I never really thought of him being like that, but it makes sense! He spends his life fighting an institution that controls most of the known world, and which was once an integral part of his life, of course it's going to take a toll! To me, it helped cement his heroic role in my mind, because he really did give everything for God.

My Evolving Project:
My project definitely changed over the course of the semester. I started by looking at critical information consumption, but when I looked at the class, I found that between Jordan Argyle and Eli Hainsworth, everything I'd said was basically covered, so I switched to crowd-funding. The collaboration group that I was part of then had some issues trying to lay down exactly what our central claim was, but then we realized that in a world where many people focus on the disadvantages and the problems which arise from the digital age, we were talking about the great new opportunities and abilities which it gives us. We had this realization as we were watching one of the prototype group movies of the group that was arguing on all the negative effects technology is having on our society. Besides giving us a claim to work with, this actually helped me be a lot more positive in my outlook on technology, and gave me a new paradigm to view it with, not just as something to be watched and guarded against, but as a tool to be used to accomplish grand, previously impossible things.

Communication and History:
Communication is an integral part of history. It not only has a critical role in the events, attitudes, and ideas that make up what we think of as "history", but it also defines the creation of history itself, as we create documentaries, books, articles, and more. We define as "prehistoric" the times before recorded communication existed, and in this way, tacitly accept history as implicitly connected with communication.
Communication shapes events and thinking because it is, in essence, how human beings connect with and affect each other. Ideas like religion, freedom, war and peace are spread and affect the lives of all of us, and this very spread is communication. Peoples opinions on what should be done are shaped in this way, and the people then shape the world around them.
New methods of communication allow people to spread ideas further and more effectively than before. Protestantism would have been dead without the printing press, freedom behind the iron curtain was greatly supported by the radio, and cat videos would have never caught on without youtube. History is then our record, and our stories, about how these things changed the world.
To be honest, entire books could and probably have been written about the interchange between communication and history, but in the end, it can be seen that history and communication are inseparably intertwined. History is how we communicate the stories that happened, which were often caused, affected, or stifled by communication.

Final Reflections: Tailor Walmer

My self-directed learning
Researching the different time periods that we studied in class let me spend personal time really looking into the works that I thought were most interesting. I read parts of the Leviathan by Thomas Hobbes. It showed an interesting view point on how government should be run. He argued that there needed to be  one supreme ruler but that the only way the system would work is if the general populous supported him 100%. This system is entirely impossible. It is impossible to have everyone supporting one ruler – there will always be some people who are disenchanted and believe that there is a different possibility for governmental organization. It is interesting to compare Hobbes’s views with other government philosophers such as John Locke who believed in freedoms.
World Wars had a huge impact on the global society and I spent time watching the original film “All’s Quiet on the Western Front”. The movie itself is not very good quality but the story is disturbing and makes a person question the purpose of war and hate the ideas of glory that people went off to the conflict believing in. This movie also connected me to a poem called “Dulce et Decorum Est” by Owens which tells the horrors of war and then mocks the idea that it is noble to die for one’s country.

My evolving project
One trend that I found very interesting when we reviewed the history of the 20th and 21st centuries was the rise of technology and how people use it to communicate with each other. At first I was planning on focusing my final project around the idea that social media takes away individuality because people are biased online or only see one side of a person like the fact that they "like" a certain band or sport. As I kept on developing my idea, however, I changed my argument somewhat. In Kotahi's post she talked about her sister and how she was affected by online modern culture. Thant got me to thinking about how we develop based on what we say and see online, Then I found a TED talk given by Paru Bensal that really gave me the basis for my new idea: that humans are losing the ability to develop as individuals because we are having less and less personally contact. We need up close and personal interactions to develop into individuals.

Communication and History
Communication makes us who we are. Our interactions with teachers and peers and family help us develop. We learn what we like and do not like through interactions. Communication is the basis for everything the human species is and is evolving to become. Historical inventions and trends directly show how important communication was and is to those trying to make it easier to do so. The telegraph machine, Morse code, pony express, mail, radio, google translate, email, Facebook, blogs, and online chat rooms are a testament to how far we as a species have come so that we can have the ability to communicate with anyone that we want to no matter how far away they are or even what language they speak. By studying the different eras in history throughout the course of this class I was able to better recognize the patterns of humans and how there is a deep drive for us to improve and do what used to seem impossible. Humans want to be connected and be recognized as individuals and as communication mediums have evolved, it has created a society in which people can do this. We are now living in an age more "plugged in" than any other time in history. With a few clicks we can talk to our friend in Japan or see a video being streamed live from Brazil. Communication has come a long way, we now have the serious responsibility, however, to make sure that we, the controllers of technology, do not let the technology we have created overrule us and make us lose our powers of developing individuality.

Final Reflections: Tommy Williams

My Self-directed Learning:

I would like to note 2 different categories that I felt most enlightened through in my studies. 

Governments and Economies: 

First of all, I learned about different types of governments and economies, their histories and the differences between them. I had heard about communism, capitalism and socialism before but I had never grasped their meanings or contexts before. Most of my learning about these came from Google and Wikipedia.


Secondly, I studied my assigned chapters from Boorstin. I absolutely loved learning about Galileo and the Enlightenment period. I found it incredibly interesting how the telescope and microscope were likely created by accident, and then improved upon by people who understood the science behind such things. Finally, I was interested to learn about all of the opposition that science encountered in the early Enlightenment period.

My Evolving Project:

My personal project went through many phases. First, I began by writing about Computer Security and how everyone everywhere should have a basic understanding of Computer Security so that they could protect themselves from at least the basic attacks. After a couple of posts, I noticed that I kept being drawn to Adrian Foongs' posts. After attempting to get some social proof from my wife, classmates and friends it became quite apparent that although I had a great presentation, and I was very passionate about my topic, I simply could not find a call to action that would excite the people who would be reading my posts. One day in class after talking with Jordan Argyle, Alec Hammond and Adrian Foong about our various and assorted topics, I decided that it was time to change directions. As I mentioned, I had found myself with contrasting opinions to Adrian on a couple of his posts about "Amateurs vs Experts" and so I decided to take the opposing viewpoint. Adrian, Dr. Burton and I all agreed that this could be a very promising idea. A week or two later, we were all put into groups, and Adrian and I found ourselves with a third member of our team, Katherine Baird. At first we had a lot of difficulty incorporating her ideas into our two-way argument, but eventually we changed out arguments again to what finally became our three pronged discussion about whether Power and Authority in our nation belongs to the People (Adrian), the Government (Katherine) or the Corporations (Me). This is how our project turned out, and we are very excited about it. Changing topics was really frustrating, but I'm glad that I did.

Communication and History:

Communication is central to history and society in that changes in communication have always brought about changes in society. For example, the ability to conduct instant international communication has not always been available. This made it very difficult to share scientific knowledge and research with others. When telegraphs and eventually telephones came into existence, this not only changed societies, but created new ones. An international scientific community sprang up. This scientific community is really incredible to me. I find it amazing that no matter what countries were at war, or at conflict with others, this international community of research and science continues strong. Studying history this semester has really opened my eyes. I have been able to better understand that all humans are created equally. Their situations are not always equal, but their rights as part of the human family should be. In this way I suppose you could say that history has changed my communications. I view people differently, and I treat people that I don't know differently. Finally, I would like to mention the explosion of social media and communications in the 21st century. I have personally noticed that the frequency of communications has skyrocketed in the last decade, but I believe that the quality of these communications has plummeted. I talk with more people, more often, but I get almost not satisfaction out of it anymore. I believe that our means of communication in the past lead towards strong interpersonal bonds, and our communications in the present seem to be leading towards weaker interpersonal bonds. As Karl Marx stated, "a society is the sum of all of its relations." I believe that relationships are degrading, and thus society is degrading as well.

Final Reflections: Jolene Kirk

Hi, My name is Jolene. These are my thoughts and experiences with my Rhetoric and Civilizations class. Below you will read about my self-directed learning, my project, and my thoughts on the importance of communication. 

Final Reflections: Katherine Baird

Hi I'm Katherine and I have been a student in Dr. Burton's Rhetoric and Civilization class. We have taken a non-conventional approach to schooling this semester. Check out my experience in regards to my self-directed learning, my evolving project, and my thoughts on communication and history.

Final Reflections: J Argyle

My self-directed learning

During the first half of the semester, we were asked to investigate aspects of the time periods we discussed each week that interested us. I'll discuss the investigations that I enjoyed the most. I will warn you that for each time period up until our modern era (1900s and beyond), I was drawn to how that period connected with the oldest period we discussed in this class, and so I often delved deeper into the 1500s history.

Stylometry - After hearing about how Lorenzo Valla proved that the Donation of Constantine was a forgery in 1439, I researched stylometry, or the use of linguistics to analyze a work, usually to make claims about its historicity or authorship. I wound up reading about writer invariant analysis, function words and forensic linguistics, all of which led me to a web site where you can download an author analysis tool called Signature for personal use, after which I played with it a bit.

Columbus's letters - Later in the semester, while reading the textbook section assigned to me, I heard about Christopher Columbus's letter detailing his first voyage to the Americas. I was very interested in his description of the natives, their lifestyle, and how horrifically ethnocentric they were. I researched the early American inhabitants, and found very little about them, and that similarly worded. This got me thinking: all history I've been taught since grade school is horribly ethnocentric, focused on Europe and America. I hardly hear about Africa or Asia other than their interactions with Europeans. It made me sick, and searching online for a while yielded no satisfying results of world history focused on Asia or Africa or South America that wasn't colored to be European.

Glass blowing - While checking world news, I saw an article that discussed Venetian glass blowing. This technique produced beautiful glasswork, and after the glassblowing industry collapsed, such works couldn't be reproduced again for centuries, and people have been trying to figure out how they did it for quite some time. The article talked about William Gudenrath, who has been trying to work out the technique, and thinks he has. He shared the techniques in instructional videos, which were a lot of fun to watch.

Nuremberg Chronicle - One of the first world history books every published (1493). You can download a PDF of the original Latin here. I was fascinated by the over 1800 pictures in it, as well as translations and descriptions of contents. I noted that it taught that heaven consisted of three different levels, each sub-divided into three groups, which is very similar to a doctrine that I believe, but few other Christians do, so it was interesting to see that taught so long ago.
     I went to BYU's special collections, and got several books about it, ranging from a discussion of the content of the book to the typography and planning of the book. There was even a book with a leaf of one of the original copies published over 500 years ago. One book summarized the Nuremberg Chronicle's sections, and I spent several hours reading their summaries while looking through the Latin PDF I had downloaded.

Researching these things made the past come to life for me, and made the characters of my history book become real people, and got me emotionally invested in events and people from times long past. It was a neat experience.

My evolving project

My topic began by thinking about what the biggest problem in communication is, and how that can be overcome. As an engineer working in nuclear, I came to the conclusion that misinformation and confusion about how to use and verify new information is a huge problem, and one that causes people to oppose life-saving medical isotopes, money-saving sensors, and world-altering food treatment methods (among other things, but that's a topic for another discussion).

I had a main personal project, as well as a proposed solution that I addressed more or less simultaneously. I will differentiate with italics when talking about the solution posts.

My first project post used the notecards that we made to present our idea, taking input from my classmates and putting it in. I didn't like the direction it was going, though, and was very wordy and didn't have a lot of substance. I took the ideas and developed them on my own and with friends and family.

Seven days later, I took that initial feedback and completely overhauled the idea in my second project post. I synthesized some of the figures I was using, used different examples that are significantly stronger, specified the four major problems with misinformation, and presented common solutions to the problem. I also introduced my solution, which improves on all suggested solutions significantly.
     This post was discussed extensively, and generated a lot of discussion. The problem was that the discussion wound up being on Facebook, in person, or through email, and nobody actually commented on the post, so I created an update post 5 days later with the discussion. I later realized that combining the discussion for the solution and the problem posts was large and unwieldy so I broke out the discussion on the problem post in a separate post.

My first solution post basically discussed many of the same problems again, using examples that would appeal to academics, and described the rough form of the solution. This would undergo a lot of discussion with professors, students, and friends. After 5 days, I updated my post to clarify some of the form and function which came up most often in discussion for my second solution post.

After a couple weeks, I posted my third project post, in which I cleaned up my graphics, added headings and formatting to make things more clear, and included a explanatory video. I was pretty happy with it, except for it's length. Connected to that was the final post for my solution.

The final solution post included a draft drawing of basic outline with much more detailed section information and is strengthened by a TED talk which describes a lot of similar ideas, though I feel my solution offers a more elegant and powerful adaptation of her proposed solutions. This was also taking a lot of time, and since I'm graduating, I will need to leave development of the idea to somebody else anyway, so this final post is good enough to get the idea across to potential collaborators later.

My final project post matched the expected format (video first), and improved the introduction and other content, trimming out some that wasn't necessary and adding some argument strengthening ideas. A comic strip was added, because comics are awesome and it fit my argument very well. Overall, I feel good about leaving my project on this post, even though it is still longer than I would like.

During the evolution of my project, I mostly worked apart from the class, though I did take the idea of proposing solutions from Spencer Marks, who has an unpublished post that describes basically the "sorting out problematic information" problem that became the second half of my project. After the index card pitch, he approached me and asked if I would want to take his project, as he pursues a different topic, so I did.

Communication and History

Studying history helps me understand why things are the way they are. I clearly saw how the Renaissance came from events before it, and how each time period we study is really an artificial separation of tends and events in the world that gain momentum from previous events. History clearly shows us that no event can be studied in isolation, by itself--the events leading up to it are are critical as the event itself, and often explain why the event happened.

Let me illustrate by discussing communication through the European history of this class: 1500s-today (the 2010s).

The ability to understand each other is what enabled us as a species to form communities in the first place. Communication enables collaboration, work sharing, and knowledge transfer. When communication evolved to writing, we were able to store information, communicate with others not physically present, and even communicate with people in other times. The Renaissance was largely spurred by Europeans finally catching up to the Arabs in reading philosophical works of ancient Greece and thinking about the world around them.

This communication from the past caused the societies of the time to drastically rethink their world, breeding new ideas during the Enlightenment and Reformation on science, thinking, worldviews, religion, nature, and being. This great expansion in thinking was also facilitated by the Enlightenment's emphasis on discussions, like with salons and coffeehouses. People began to communicate their new ideas, and European society was propelled into the Industrial Revolution.

Even now, governments have been toppled simply by the people communicating together and deciding to take a stand against their current government (ie Arab Spring). America landed on the moon thanks to communication. WWII was fought and won because of superior communication and code techniques. Without communication, we are simply intelligent creatures of limited capacity. When we effectively communicate as a species, there is no limit to what we can achieve.

Final Reflections: Laycee Liston

My self-directed learning

My favorite learning log experiences that I did while in this class were based on ad fontes or going back to the sources. An example of doing this was when I read a portion of Martin Luther's 95 theses. This was very interesting to me because it was not what I expected. My whole life I have learned about the 95 thesis from history teachers and so forth, but I misunderstood the content until I read it for myself. I had previously thought that it was 95 separate complaints when really it was one complaint with 95 bullet points or arguments. This simple activity gave me clarity.

The time that we were given to research history gave me that opportunity to delve into topics that I had not previously researched. For example I spent time at the Museum of Art at BYU and I also visited the library education exhibit. These two experiences taught me specific things about each time period. The MOA taught me about the view of minorities and African Americans during the 1900's and the library exhibit taught me about the entertainment developments during the industrial revolution (ideas that I then incorporated into my final project)

Not only did the first half of this semester and the learning log give me an opportunity to research things specifically but I also gained a broad understanding of each era and how they all interconnect and related to one another. This learning can be seen in my digital dialogs. One example of this is seen in the connections that I made between the enlightenment era and the industrial revolution in my Industrialization and Imagination digital dialog. In this specific submission I contrasted the social power shift of the enlightenment and the power shift caused by industrialization. Overall this was a great learning opportunity that taught me about history both on a broad and narrow level.

My Evolving Project

The evolution of the "Digital Barrier".

My personal final project took many twists and turns to get to where it is today. I went through several ideas before I found an idea that I felt fit the bill. My first blog post idea was on religion. I eventually felt that this topic was not as relatable to society as a whole and that it lacked some kairos. 

It is always hard to scrap an idea and start from scratch but this is necessary at times if you are to create something great. So... with this new realization I decided to broaden and change my topic to digital media's disintegrating effect on relationships. This idea focuses on how media is becoming a distraction and hurting us socially. 

After putting my thesis online in the form of a short video clip. I was surprised by my results. There were those who agreed with me but there were many that wanted to point out both sides of the argument. This helped my argument become more rounded. As well, conversing with other students such as Katelyn Dalton and Jared Larson helped me change me enhance my ideas.  These peoples ideas added to the overall quality of my final blog post

As far as my group project when, our ideas all fit together very well from the very beginning. There were some thoughts we had to sort out, such as, do we want to create a counter argument and so forth. Talking with them gave me the idea to think more about video games and their effect. Overall I think that I gained a lot from my group but I also learned from posting my idea on facebook. This was a great opportunity to gain insight from both my peers in the classroom and a lot of other resources. All in all these factors all contributed to the final project.

Communication and History

 Does history affect you today? To this I can now reply with a resounding yes! Previously I did not understand the effects that history has on us personally. History has brought us to where we are today and specifically communication has brought us to where we are. This is because communication is what makes history.

The effect of communication on history can clearly be seen during the Enlightenment. In reading Borston’s book I learned about the creation of the printing press. The printing press was one of the main contributors to the start of the enlightenment. The printing press was able to produce information and books on mass levels. This made ideas available to many people. Without this form of mass communication the ideas of the Enlightenment would not have been spread around Europe and this time period could have never occurred.

Today communication is still making the history books. I experienced this personally as I was in Baltimore during the time of the riots this last May. These riots were organized online through online communication. It was clear to see that the communication of today can have a large impact on society. 

Amanda’s personal blog post claim is that communication is what makes up society. If communication makes up society then it is also what makes up the history of society. History is made up of communication, communication causing war, using war to communicate, advances in communication such at the telegram, telegraph, newspaper, even as far back as the creation of the written word. Communication has been a big influence on history. Not only is communication an influence on history but is its history. 

Final Reflections: Mitchell Cottrell

My Self-Directed Learning
Since the beginning of this class, I’ve been trying to connect all that I learn to my field of study, business management with an emphasis in data analytics. I’m a very logical thinker and short to the point. I look for trends and watch for economic potential in every circumstance I find myself in.­­ Because of that, I became more fascinated with the class as the personal learning progressed.

I always began my studies of each period learning general information. This gave me a proper understanding of important themes of the time period. I then picked a handful of themes that were interconnected, and tried to look for society’s reaction to changes, especially economical ones. I kept this trend throughout the entire learning process in order to see trends and changes among all the consistency.

My favorite study was of the Industrial Revolution. Reading about the effects of Karl Mark on society, and his push to dethrone the bourgeoisie, made me realize how imperfect history is, just as we are presently. It finally made me realize that history is like a tornado, it keeps looping back to the beginning, just with new ideas and people in power. Marx wasn’t much different from Montesquieu or Lorenzo Valla. They all challenged what society told them was right. They just found themselves in different time periods surrounded by different societies. History is a large vortex though, and repeated patterns and trends can be tracked and recognized through our past and into our future.

My Evolving Project
Because of my constant learning connection to business and analytics, I felt like it was hard to come up with my original idea for my final project. A topic that kept coming back to me was the idea of globalization. Inter-connectivity. I felt like I wanted to talk about the enormous network that can be built throughout the world, and how we need to move forward within that network in order to build it correctly (this is my original post). My idea was shot down very bluntly by a few people during class, which was an indicator to me that I needed to relate it more to the topics decided upon in class. I was placed in the Identity group.

As I morphed my desire to talk about inter-connectivity, I attached it to the ideas of my group members Kotahi, Jolene, and Katelyn: determining who we are, and building appropriate identities online for others to see. My thought process changed every class, and every blog post was completely re-written, not just edited. But this process was amazing. I learned how to think differently, to tie my ideas to those of people with different backgrounds and areas of expertise. I feel like I was able to effectively collaborate on my post as well as their posts, and we built a unified project and video. We were pleased with the work we did. It was opinionated, had strong calls to action, but was done in a professional way that is informative and properly iterated.

My final post is found here.
Our group post is found here.

Communication and History
The value of communication in the history of the world should never be underestimated. When closely observed, it can be found in every aspect of life, from the social to the political, and economic to philosophical. Shifts and developments in communication have been and will continue to be blueprints for where history is headed. When society has been brave enough to voice their opinion, they’ve become a massive force to be reckoned with. The consensus of poor labor conditions during the Industrial Age led certain transcendent human rights to be put in place. The first official mass-recording of opinions (with the creation of the printing press) revolutionized education and the spread of ideologies that challenged authority. These are just some examples of how communication has led to change for the wellbeing of cultures and societies.

As I’ve studied these practices and trends across history, I’ve realized the lack of importance I’ve given to my own communication. I have a voice, and it can be powerful. I also have the responsibility to help lead others’ communication in the right direction. As we grow and morph in this new Digital Age, and with the amazingly connected social networks we’re a part of, I now have a high standard against ignorance. The power of the people, “the long tail”, the masses, the crowd, has such a lasting influence in history and the future, and I can’t ignore the responsibility I have to honor the past in order to develop the future.

I know that society must look to the words of Edmund Burke, ″A spirit of innovation is generally the result of a selfish temper and confined views. People will not look forward to posterity, who never look backward to their ancestors.″ As we communicate effectively, we can successfully choose our future.

Final Reflections: Bryce Romney

My self-directed learning

My Boorstin reading was all about plants and animals - how they were understood during previous times of the world, and eventually were grouped, identified by species, and connected to all other plants and animals. 

While not particularly interesting to me, this reading was one that opened the door to discovering how it was that people became so passionate about a certain subject, and the benefits that the world began to experience once information was freely shared and collaboration rose. The Boorstin reading led me to delve deeper into the lives of those it referenced. I mainly used Wikipedia to hop down different rabbit holes while researching things such as Latin words, communication methods between scholars of the day, and survival rates on discovery voyages, to name some I specifically remember. A couple of my digital dialogue posts and learning log entries are purely based on information from a Wikipedia internet hole I fell down.

I study Information Systems, so I began to explore more deeply communication and privacy as it relates to technology. I watched historically accurate films pertaining to information security ("The Imitation Game") and reading articles about data leaks ("The Panama Papers"). These historical accounts were so interesting to me, not only because of their subject matter, but because they represented people who were collaborating with other smart people to improve the world in their area of expertise.

My evolving project

I first began with information security and encryption methods. I was very interested in the outcome of the Apple vs. FBI social issue that many people were talking about. That was the inspiration for my first post, "What's so Great About Privacy?", where I explored the trade offs between privacy and security. The next post was a video (Privacy is a Basic Human Right: Video Claim) with the same basic argument - that privacy is a basic human right, despite the dangers that can come with it.

This sparked an interesting conversation with classmate Carli Stone where she wondered why I thought privacy was necessary for human development. I decided to keep my original argument, but look more at the intrinsic and developmental benefits of privacy.

The group that I was assigned to had some varying subjects - Rachelle talked about biased information hurting our psyche, and Jared talked about achieving utopia. While those subjects didn't seem to go together seamlessly (and Jared dropped out), Rachelle and I were able to find common ground when talking about open versus controlled resources.

These influences resulted in my final post for my personal project, 
Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Other Stuff that's None of Your Business.

For the group project, instead of explicitly introducing all of our topics, we wanted to present a scenario and have us relate the scenario back to our personal subjects. It also helps that both Rachelle and I perform! We filmed two versions of a scenario involving the control of a resource (music practice rooms). Here's version one (Information Manipulation: Open or Controlled?) and then version two, based off of feedback from the class (Open vs Controlled: When Resources are Restricted). These videos also include follow up videos of personal commentary that discuss the happenings of the scenario within the frameworks of our personal projects.

Communication and History

Communication is crucial in all aspects of life. From the first organisms using chemical signals to the most sophisticated and complicated governments, communication is the only thing that can unite and help us understand each other. The times in history where we see communication make a leap - written language in Mesopotamia, Gutenberg's printing press, the collaboration of ideas in the Enlightenment, the internet and today's age of information - we also see huge advances in understanding, intellectual progress, and essentially every aspect of life.

It has been amazing to see how communication has evolved. We see how desperate the world was for more information and greater collaboration. Now we're seeing people trying to cut back on how much is communicated and shared, in favor of heavier control and privacy. In each case, it always strikes me how much communication translates into power. This power comes from knowing others, from understanding cultures, from having valuable information, from being able to influence. Whoever is the most effective at communication seems to consistently have the most power in their circle.

Just like Rachelle and I discuss in our group project, we are on the verge of a huge transformation in how we share and what we share. It seems that we are now inundated with biased stories that are meant to instill fear or obsession or manipulation. Many people see the issue with this, but too many don't. While I'm sure apathy will be the biggest response as we move into the future, I have hope that we will be able to look beyond personal economic gain, and our generation's main movers and shakers will be focused on creating a better world through collaboration and sharing. The heart of that is communication.

Final Reflections: Rachelle Elbert

"Truths, are more likely to have been discovered by one man than by a nation."
- Descartes

My Self-Directed Learning

One major source of learning for this course was 'The Discoverers' by Daniel Boorstin. I discovered that thedevelopment of science and mathematics changed the world. I typically began my research on Wikipedia, and felt that it led me to different sources of learning. I reviewed theses by Isaac Newton, Descartes, and Mersenne. These fathers of mathematics and language helped create what we know as the Digital Age. I also enjoyed talking to older generations: my grandma, parents, and fellow cast-mates, and they helped describe the kind of world they grew up in, in comparison to today's society. As science and technology has evolved, so has society. There are types and shadows within history: consequences for the actions of people dabbling in new technology and power. More about that topic can be found in this blog post by Nathan Lambert. This blog post also goes in depth of how we can learn from history.
 I wish I had studied more in depth, each time period and everything that happened. It takes a lifetime of learning to understand the evolution of society. I felt that through this class, and how it was organized (groups assigned certain topics), I was able to get a glimpse into history. My favorite time period was the Enlightenment. It was the beginning of the French Revolution, Scientific Revolution, and progress. The ideas of the Enlightenment undermined the authority of the monarchy and the church, and paved the way for the revolutions of the 18th and 19th centuries. As said by Jolene Kirk in a Digital Dialogue post, "The Enlightenment is a time for people learning to continue to change their ideas of “truths of the universe” because their “truths” are always changing with the discovery of new truths." When society emerged as a unit outside the reigns of the church, individualism and humanism blossomed. I am so grateful for the Renaissance.
 Besides art and festivals, I knew little about the Renaissance. Through this course I learned more about the government side of things, as well as who was leading technological development. I struggled with knowing what to say on blog posts and on Digital Dialogue, because I was so enthralled by my classmates thoughts. I was way busy this semester, and regret not participating in more discussion. What we learned in this class is vital for the development of our future. We must learn from the mistakes of the past. And we must take what we have learn and build upon it, so we can unite our society and continue to progress.

My Evolving Project
At the beginning of the group project, I knew I wanted to talk about the effects of Social Media on society. I knew it effected our emotions, and slowly required us to rebuild a new identity online. With Bryce's topic of "Security vs. Privacy" I knew that there was a connection. Bryce Romney's Post. I was impressed by his passion and knowledge of today's security breaches and privacy rights. It encouraged me to do my own research into our human rights. We eventually combined our efforts into a final blog post about how our security and privacy is being controlled by our emotional efforts. I enjoyed using video in our blogs. I really liked this groups blogpost about how technology is deteriorating our communication today. We have a tendency to put ourselves online, that it becomes our new identity. Sometimes this identity gets in the way of outside communication. Also, by communicating online, everything we say is forever on the cloud, in our service providers records, and our information can be hacked. There is a greater need for security than ever, and I believe that Bryce and I brought up a very important and relevant topic.

Communication and History
Ways of communicating has evolved drastically over history. With the invention of vernacular languages and the translation of them, and especially the advancement of technology, has communicating between countries become easier. In Ancient Rome, people communicated by way of writing on tablets that were posted in the town square. Government and political figures would give speeches in that town square, and society bonded over community events like the Olympics. Many countries tried to reciprocate what the Romans had, because communication in that country was successful and people flourished. With the development of written language did communication become man's search to improve upon shouting.
What used to be 'pigeon post' that began in oriental countries and Germany, became letters and what now is the postal service. This helped communication between countries, and the start of international affairs. In Europe leaders were heavily influenced by the Catholic church, who help historical records in Latin. Latin became a dead language, and the church had a monopoly on the language. When the Royal Society formed in the 16th century, scientists collaborated their ideas about math and science and developed a universal way of thinking. Mathematics became the universal language, and helped monetary systems. Technology really developed during the Industrial era. Between the 18th and 21st century, technology development accelerated with the invention of cars, computers, and especially the internet. When the interstate was built in the 1900's, postal service could reach different parts of the country much quicker. Letters and packages could be sent overseas with the invention of airplanes. Before that, mail could take weeks, even months, to reach other countries because ships were slow moving across choppy waters.
We are finally at the Digital Age, where communicating is fast, simple, and dumbed down. We have changed the way we speak, to be precise, quick to the point, and less eloquent. We talked differently 100 years ago, but now we speak more casually. The internet allowed for fast communication to any part of the world, through AIM Instant Messaging, Email, and now Facebook Messaging. Cellphones allowed for calls at any time, anywhere, and now with text messaging, you have no excuse for not communicating.
Communication is vital for keeping peace among countries and society. We have come so far, and we are now in an age where communicating should be easiest. Yet, we hide behind our devices, and our casual way of speaking can make it harder to say what you want to say. There needs to be a balance in all things, and today's technology allows for instant communication, as well as enhancing personal communication.

Final Reflections: Katelyn Dalton

My Self-Directed Learning

With this semester's self-directed learning program, I was able to develop research skills beyond my previous capacity. Perhaps this was because my studies were more intentional. After the lecture on "Industrialization and Imagination", in which Dr. Burton mentioned that the Romantic period of the arts was a response to the ideologies expressed in the early 1900's, I decided to explore music from this period. The years 1750-1900 showed an explosion of ideas regarding individuals, governments, and technology. The music produced during this time definitely demonstrated this; for example, it was during this time that it became very popular for musicians to go "freelance" and live the "bohemian lifestyle"; a major change from their previous lives of servitude. This way of living resulted in financially struggling musicians--but musicians who could write the way they wanted. To study, I decided to listen to a 45 minute symphony by Hector Berlioz, entitled "Symphonie Fantastique". This piece was considered very radical for the era, and featured a larger ensemble and a larger sound than had ever been used before.

Later on in class, we learned about the 21st century and the Digital Age (a launching point for our final project). While I've never been hugely interested in economics, the "long tail" concept interested me. I did some research and found the website of the guy who created this theory. The Long Tail theory essentially explains "niche" culture. Because production and storage costs are going down (since we do so much of our business online), it can now be economically efficient to cater to a wide variety of niches instead of just selling one thing catered to the masses. This concept alone helped me to better understand the demands of the digital age: individualism and identity.

My Evolving Project

My project definitely started out in the theme of identity, but I was surprised by how much it evolved (and how much my opinions changed) within this topic. My first iteration argued that the connections facilitated by our online identities was actually driving wedges between cultures and societies. While I ended up moving in a different direction, Mitchell Cottrell, a member of my group, ended up having a similar perspective which he developed here.

My project unfolded as I sought out social proof and tried to answer the questions posed by my classmates. Jolene Hammond, a member of my class and group project, mentioned that when we are online, we tend to be a different version of ourselves. This caused me to start thinking about how our online identities differ from our "real" identities. After my second project iteration, Adrian Foong commented with an extremely pertinent question: "does it matter how I live my personal life if I give 100% in my professional life?" Keeping this question in the back of my mind helped me to develop a major component of my final personal project, where I argue that it is completely ethical for employers to review the social media profiles of potential employees.

Once we were put into groups for our final project, I was able to see what facets of identity other members of the group would be focusing on so that I could specialize my topic. Our group project changed drastically inbetween iterations. While our first group post was centered around a video we made detailing the digital presence of our professor, our final project had a personal video that applied to a wider audience, as well as concise "hooks" for each of our personal projects.

Communication and History

I would argue that communication can define society, as as such, methods of communication demarcates cultures and generations. Whether it's the printing press that came about it the 1400's, allowing Martin Luther to more broadly disseminate his 95 theses, or the coffeehouses and salons of the 1700's that allowed the Republic of Letters to function, or the text messages and social media platforms of today that allow major news items to be announced in 140 characters or less, the way we communicate causes social progress.

Whether we like it or not, history is cyclical. In the words of Edmund Burke, "Those who don't know history are doomed to repeat it". By studying many eras of civilization so quickly this semester, I was able to make more connections between them and see those patterns. Perhaps most importantly, this allowed me to make connections between past eras and the current time. For example, new forms of communication always causes unrest. People resist change. It happened when the transition between illuminated manuscripts and the printing press was being made. People were uncomfortable with this new method, so printers tried to print books to look like illuminated manuscripts. However, the potential of the printing press was eventually unleashed. Because I know this pattern of the past, it doesn't surprise me when society gets stuck on the PDF file and struggles to move on to more interactive forms of text documents. I know that the potential will eventually be discovered.

The way we communicate now will determine the amount and type of social progress that will be made. The sooner we can find a balance between sticking with what we know works and being flexible with change, the sooner and more efficiently we will be able to progress.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Final Reflections: Kotahi Tarawhiti

My self directed Learning:

I think this project really helped me wrap my thoughts around feelings I already had toward the digital age. My self-directed learning really started to take off when I would leave class ready to apply the different things that we discussed in our first groups. My group was great at helping me recognize holes in my thesis, and we’d discuss where to look for greater information. A lot of my resources for learning came from books and online sources, but the greatest validation of my thesis really being a modern day issue came from talking with my family.

I discovered a love for books when doing my self-directed learning, and specifically fell in love with reading about the renaissance and enlightenment periods. Boorstin helped me gain a good understanding of a few points, but I loved imagining myself in the time period when I read the script of Hamlet and poetry from Shakespeare. I found that the most helpful online sources came in video form. BBC had wonderful documentaries, and they were extremely helpful because they had access to places and resources that were directly from those different time periods.

My favorite documentary was about the Industrialization revolution. The researcher literally walked through the streets of Europe explaining at what time and place specific events occurred that were essential to the revolution… like water powered factories! This really catered to my needs as a visual learner.

One of the greatest benefits of being in control of what I studied outside of class, was that I could study according to my needs and desires. This project especially helped me become an agent to act and gain experience in my own unique way.

My Evolving Project:

I knew that there were a lot of issues debated about social media, but I wanted a unique angle. I went home most Sundays out of the semester and I started noticing how my family was pretty addicted to social media. I tried talking with them, but it seemed pretty difficult to have a worthwhile conversation. Upon realizing this, I discovered what my angle could be for my argument.

I decided to focus my research on how identity is affected because of the pressures of Social Media. As I talked more with people I was close with, and those I wasn’t so close with, I started to recognize that what we like, share and follow through social media can totally mold us into false identities. When I was in my first group, I really enjoyed Michael’s posts concerning the inequality between women and men in the media. His thoughts really helped solidify what I was trying to help others understand about the molding of identity.

My personal project grew as I discussed my ideas within my “identity” group. Katelyn Dalton’s argument was centered on the perception of identity through social media, which is the very reason why I feel it’s important that we as humans must gain experience outside of social media in order to properly mold who we are.

As my argument began to take form, I realized that the best way to express it would be through modern slang. I used words and phrases familiar to “millennials”, in hopes that it would affect the younger crowd the most. My argument moved from being a logical explanation, and more towards being a call to action.

Communication and History:

The more I’ve studied about the importance of individual identity in this digital age, the more I’ve realized how essential good communication is to molding a strong identity. From my first rhetoric and civilization class to now, we’ve discussed some of the greatest minds in the world and how they’ve communicated their ideas and concepts to the world. Not just what they’ve shared, but also how they have shared it, and I believe it has catapulted the way in which we think and progress in this modern age.

Not all communication throughout history has been perfect, but communication and the mediums in which it has been conveyed through time, has given people the opportunity to unleash their thoughts on the world. The creation of books and letters allowed ideas to be spread to all different countries at an early age. Now we live in a time where communicating ideas and opinions can happen at the click of a button.

After studying communication and the affect it has had on society throughout history, I wonder if in the next few decades we will start to “Ad Fontes”, or try going back to communicating with less technology. Social Media and other forms of mass distribution have been a great tool in the progression of the world, but I also believe that it is taking away precious opportunities to solidify identity. All in all, communication is an essential aspect of building a strong society, but I believe that it can be stronger in our day if we were to maintain a balance of communication with and without technology.

Final Reflections: Alec Hammond

My self-directed learning
By choosing what and where to research, I gained a far more wholistic perspective of history. I was able to focus more on cause-effect relationships. Initially, like many of my peers, I was more interested in filling the requirements of my assignment than taking advantage of this unfamiliar freedom. I began by examining woodcuts and paintings at the MOA, reading primary sources, and looking at old maps.

As we shared our findings in our cohorts, however, I realized that the things that interested me were often the things that interested my peers on a more personal level. Tommy, for example, often talked about the power of nations during the Renaissance and Enlightenment, and would compare that power with the power corporations hold today. I decided to better use my time by exploring things that would resonate with me personally.

I revisited the MOA, spending time viewing one of my favorite artists: Norman Rockwell. Except this time, I paid closer attention to how he portrayed major global events. I got lucky and was able to follow some curators who were giving "private" tours to museum donors. I began watching documentaries on the space race, globalization, and today's digital era, all from different countries. It was interesting to see common themes emerge in different forms.

As I began making my learning more personal, I felt more invested and started connecting events from earlier periods to today. Essentially, it was this new lens through which I viewed history that helped sparked my interest in the relationship between tolerance and radicalism.

My evolving project
I found that by developing my topic in a group environment and socially proofing it along the way, I could refine it more easily. Driven by both my personal research and personal experiences, I wanted to know whether tolerance could actually promote radicalism. Ironically, the very issue I was exploring initially inhibited me from sharing my views through social media.

Thankfully, my group members were supportive, and Michael encouraged me to share my ideas. I received "social proof" from friends and family members who both agreed and disagreed with my claim. Through this exercise, I came to understand the power of a personal angle.

Integrating my topic into our "hub" project wasn't difficult at all. Chloe, Michael, and I were able to connect our ideas fairly quickly. Establishing a format, however, proved to be the most difficult issue. We tried a variety of visual techniques using animations and GIF's. There were no predetermined criteria, so we found ourselves experimenting after every iteration. Several other group videos were more personal and seemed to hold more weight.We too decided to feature a more personal look and filmed each of us in our final project.

Communication and history
Society describes the interactions and relationships between people. History is simply a record of these interactions from a given point of view. As such, the way society interacts and is recorded depends entirely upon the forms of communication available.

With new communication mediums come developments in both society and its history. Before the Gutenberg press, for example, society was dependent upon the few who could read. Precious information like trade routes, ancient Greek history, and even the Bible, was usually shared orally by this elite minority. After the press was developed, however, information began spreading at an unprecedented rate. Even more surprising, literacy improved. Society literally began to adapt to this new communication platform.

By studying the effects of the Gutenberg press on Renaissance society, I now understand that our own society has the potential of undergoing a "Gutenberg Revolution". The internet has made possible several new communication platforms, like social media, that essentially eliminate the feedback gap between individuals.

This new environment is redefining our social structure as we speak. We no longer have to rely on the "clerics" of the Dark Ages (professionals and specialists) to receive information. Crowdsourced projects backed by amateurs are putting valuable information into everyone's hands for free.

Giving everyone voice, however, also changes the way history is and was recorded. Now anyone can redefine exactly what happened at Jesus's birth with the click of a button. Current events are covered by so many sources and angles, its hard to get the "real" story. In short, both history and society will forever evolve as new forms of communication develop.