Sunday, December 11, 2011

Final Technology Essay

This week we are supposed to write a final essay on all of the activities we worked on during the semester in my Technology, Culture and Learning Class. It is really difficult to pinpoint what my favorite activity was because I learned so much in class this semester.  Of course there were some activities that I would have rather not focused on such as twitter and my blog, but I was glad that at least I was able to learn about them and maybe in the future I will have a use for these webtools.
As for the web tools I did enjoy, I was did like learning and using the different visual learning applications such as Pixlr, iMovie, screencast and YouTube.  I was able to upload my personal videos from my trip this summer to Italy to YouTube and share them with my friends and family who did not leave in Wisconsin.  Also, I really love iMovie!  I will definitely use iMovie in the future for presentations and/or projects.
The first time I used iMovie was for our Misa presentation.  I did not realize how easy it would be complete our Misa presentation on iMovie and upload it to YouTube.  Our presentation was on chapter two of Leonardo to the Internet: Technology and Culture from the Renaissance to the Present, by Thomas J. Misa.      
I enjoyed watching my classmates presentations on the Misa book.  It was interesting to get more background history on Leonardo Da Vinci.  I did not realize he started out as apprentice to Andrea de Verrocchio and worked with Nicollo Machevilla.  I was most surprised to find out that Leonardo’s first job was to work on military weapons and defense.  I was less familiar with Gutenberg and was interested to learn about his contributions to technology, metal casting and printing press.
The chapter that my team worked on was chapter two.  It focused on the Dutch Golden Age and the rise of era of the Renaissance.  The advancement in ship building was prominent in this decade and the Dutch lead the way.  Also, herring and tulips became popular commodities during this era.  They also discussed the beginning of the slave trade in this chapter.  Overall the book was very interesting and was the book I liked the best that we read this past semester.
We read three books for this class during the semester one of them was entitled “What the Internet is Doing to our Brains: The Shallows” by Nicholas Carr.  In the first chapter I loved how Carr explained his first experience with a personal computer.  It was interesting to read his journey through this process and how quickly the technology changed. 
It was interesting to ready how much the internet has changed since it was first established and how Carr discussed that he had only five hours of internet time.  Today, fives would not be enough for one day.  Personally, I use it to stay updated on current events, directions, communicate with family and friends, shopping, and even listing to music or watching movies.  For school and work I use the internet for research and homework, communicating with co-workers and classmates, ordering equipment and supplies.  Just like Carr, I no longer read newspapers.  I also do not use phonebooks, because sometimes the information is outdated and it is much easier to look online for a company’s information.  Plus, their website has much more information than the phonebook provides.  After viewing a company’s website I may not need to contact them, because the information I need may already be on their website.
Another book we read for class was the book “Cognitive Surplus:  Creativity and Generosity in a Connected Age” by Clay Shirky.  When I first read the title I had to really think about what Shirky meant by “Cognitive Surplus.”  Basically, what my understanding of this term is the excess amount of free time we have and how we use it.  Shirky discusses several examples of what we do with our cognitive surplus, but one of his main focuses is the amount of time people spend watching TV, which he feels could be used for other purposes. 

My favorite chapter of the book was the first chapter entitled Gin, Television, and Cognitive Surplus Shirky discusses a fascinating history of the “gin craze” that began in London around the 1720’s.  People began moving into the city of London from the countryside seeking work due to the industrialization of society.  Shirky, described how there were major changes in society due to this growth in populations and due to these issues there were several laws passed in order to prohibit the consumptions of gin. 

One of the first web tools we learned about was Google Docs.  Before this class I never used the web tool.  We were able to create a template for a Google site.  We also, created forms and documents, surveys and embedded videos into our site.
I remember being apprehensive at first working on this project, since I had never used the Google sites or Google docs before.  I never even had a G-mail account until I started this class.  I actually enjoyed this lesson very much and learned a lot.  One of my favorite parts of this lesson was creating the survey/poll.  This was much easier than I expected and fun too.  Another aspect of the survey that I found interesting was being able to see the results of your survey and generating a user-friendly results report.
I will be able to work on my documents from any computer.  I will also be able to share my documents with co-workers and students.  I think it’s great that I can collaborate with others and have the ability to work with others in real time.  I can also use it to post powerpoints for people to view.  This is a great free resource that can be used for work, school or personal projects.  It allows you to share confidential information as long as you have a private page.
I have already started utilizing this tool at work to post training materials, schedules and common forms for employees to use and review.  There are so many things to work do in google docs.  I look forward to working with and exploring google docs and google sites in the future.
All these applications or web tools are very intimidating when you first work with them.  I was glad we had a hands-on class where Dr. Kim was able to go step by step through these web tools and show us how to use.  If it was not for these classes I would have been lost trying to navigate through all of these applications and it would have taken me hours to figure them out.  This class was a beneficial in showing me how to use different web tools and learning skills that I can and have already incorporated into my work environment.

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