This post is my first assignment for the Introduction to Learning Technologies course offered by the Gwenna Moss Centre for Teaching Effectiveness at the University of Saskatchewan. My job for this post is to talk about who I am and why I’m taking the course. I’ve covered the “who” part on my About page so here I’ll stick to the “why.” It’s pretty simple, really- I know there are a lot of creative and effective ways to apply technology to teaching… but exactly what they are and how to use them is a little beyond me. Sure, I can PowerPoint with the best of ’em, but when it comes to twittering (tweeting?) in class, or using blogs, or creating my own multimedia teaching tools, I suffer from an uncharacteristic lack of imagination.
Thus far we’ve looked at a number of applications in class, and I have a better appreciation for the breadth of tech options out there. The thing that has made the biggest impression on me, however, is the whole idea of having an e-presence online. As a non-facebooking non-twitterer (tweeter?) I had hoped to keep my digital presence and the inherent dangers and annoyances to a minimum. Our instructor changed my perspective a bit when she pointed out that not creating your own digital presence means that someone else can do it for you. She recommended googling our names to see what was already out there about us. Wow. What a disconcerting experience. I scrolled through six Google pages before finding an entry that didn’t apply to me… I learned that someone keeps track of the “genealogy” of my PhD, that somewhere someone rated my goodness as a human being, and that my PhD thesis was available for sale in paperback. (No, I don’t get any money for that.) Of course, at the top of the list was a certain website (to remain unnamed) where disgruntled students go to vent their frustrations about their instructors. Why are the gruntled ones so much less likely to comment in places like that?
My conclusion is that the things I do actively to define my digital presence are more likely to have a benign effect on said presence than not, and that it is better to have some influence than none at all. I’m going to miss my anonymity, however illusory, but there are benefits to being part of this brave new world: I can open Twitter accounts for my dogs!