Wednesday, June 13, 2012

A LAST last word...

Okay, so obviously the last post was not the last. I know, you're all jumping with joy!

The webinar we had tonight was amazing! I was excited to share what we'd learned, but I honestly wasn't sure whether people would find it helpful or interesting. In preparing for it, I was reminded--just slightly--of practicing my dinky little piano solo for the recital when I was a kid...

Thankfully, the webinar did not end up simply torturing (piano recital-esque) the attendees! I was really excited about the questions they were asking and the discussion that was going on. I really loved sharing my own insights that I've gained through this class, as well as hearing the insights of my class members. It was really amazing to realize that the things we've learned in this class are exactly what lots of people out there are trying to learn, or wish they could learn. I wish we would have had more time to talk about everything!

It was just a great opportunity to look back and realize how much digital literacy I really have learned, and how much I now have to share with others. Digital literacy really is a skill that is not necessarily easily learned, but once we put time and investment into it, it has totally changed our lives. At least, it's changed my life. And that's not a sappy exaggeration.

It was, in truth, difficult sometimes to follow the webinar, as I was trying to both listen to what my classmates were saying and to follow the chat stream, as well as offer whatever insights I wanted (typing as furiously as possible before the subject was changed) via chat. It was difficult, but it was okay! I just had to keep reminding myself to relax, breathe, and remember that I didn't need to pay attention to everything. I was still able to keep up with the general flow of conversation. (But I'm excited to watch the recording so I can get even more out of it!)

The webinar was a reminder of how much we really can help other people. I have a voice, I have something to say. Sometimes I feel very ignorant and helpless as a college student, still trying to get my degree. But I need to just dive in and join the conversation, because what I have to say matters.

One Last Word.

The semester is almost over and this blog will soon be a relic of the past, something for me to look back on as a reminder of that marvelous spring term that I spent inside a dark, windowless basement, staring at a computer screen, growing sallow and pale, ignorant of the beautiful weather outside...

Just kidding. Truth be told, there's nowhere I would rather have been than in that dark basement. This class has been one of my best experiences at BYU so far. It's been hard, but I've learned and grown so much. I really felt the need to write this last post so I could thank everyone who has helped and inspired me the last few weeks.

First, a last word about my topic, which means a lot to me. I've discovered various online communities serving women all over the world. I've been amazed and grateful for the generosity and kindness that I've seen and that has been extended to me by so many truly fantastic women. I'd like to especially thank Susan Taylor, Jory Des Jardins, and Elisa Camahort Page, who responded to my humble pleas for their opinion even though I'm sure they had a lot of better things to do with their time. I'd like to also thank the various other women who responded to blog posts, forum posts, comments, and all my various other methods of communication. Every single person who responded to me, even though they may never see this, was very helpful to me in providing aid and social proof.

One writer, Kathryn C. Lang, just recently responded to a question I asked in a forum on SheWrites: How has the Internet helped you as a writer? Lang says, "...It's opening doors to readers and friends (new and old) that may have gone undiscovered. The internet is making my world smaller - and bigger - all at the same time." When I read this, I felt a soaring sense that this was exactly what I was trying to say in my research paper. It was really amazing to have just finished it and then to reach that climax, reading that comment, and knowing that what I was writing about was true and real and very relevant.

There have been dozens of people who have helped me a ton with my project and in the class. I want to especially thank Holly and Whitney, the members of my cohort. They both helped me so much with clarifying my topic, finding sources, encouraging me, supporting me, and reminding me how much I love what I'm doing. I also really want to thank all my other class members, who offered both encouragement and critique when I needed it, and who inspired me with their greatness.

I want to thank all the bloggers whose blogs I've read and appreciated and even quoted. They are fantastic and inspiring. They are truly the Melanies of the digital age.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Class Learning Outcomes



Now that the term is nearly over, I have the opportunity to look back on the class and see how well I achieved the learning outcomes:

1. Learn and Follow the BYU-Idaho Learning Model (prepare, teach one another, ponder and prove)
Preparing was definitely important in this class. I'll be honest--in the past I've been more of a finish-it-right-before-class kind of girl, and that definitely showed in the beginning of this course. As the term progressed, however, I learned the importance of preparing in advance so that I could then be taught by my peers. It helped SO MUCH when I did that. Then I was also able to help my peers more with theirs and, in my own small way, teach them. I think as far as teaching one another, I had a great experience with my cohort, Holly and Whitney. The three of us got very involved in each other's research and were able to help each other a lot. I also got very into self-directed learning. I wasn't just learning the exact amount that I needed to; I went beyond and found out a lot of things that maybe weren't even necessarily the exact right quote or whatever, but were just interesting things that were indirectly related, even if they didn't necessarily make it into the paper. I think that helped me focus the paper a lot more and round it out. 

2. Write Substantially and Publicly About Literature
Writing the blog definitely helped me to meet this learning outcome. I invited my friends on Facebook to read the blog quite often and sometimes they did--many of them mentioned the blog to me. Blogging, I think, actually helped me to write a lot more substantially than I would have if I had just written the paper. 

3. Develop Research Skills
I definitely developed a LOT of research skills in this class! Visiting the library helped a lot as far as scholarly research--I learned to use a lot of different databases whereas before I didn't necessarily use a lot of different resources. I also learned to do more informal, less traditional research that helped a lot in clarifying my topic and my points in the research paper. 

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Welcome Back to Myself

As I was anticipating what I would write in this blog post reflecting on the differences between traditional research papers and the kind I've been doing on this blog, I felt a sense of relief. I found myself thinking, I'm so glad I'll get to be myself on the blog again. 


Then I wondered why exactly this kind of writing is more me than my research paper and drafts. I mean, I put my blood, sweat, and tears into that research paper (figuratively, of course...). And I really believed in it, too. I may have cared more about that research paper and felt like it was more relevant to others and to me than any other research paper I've ever written. So why doesn't it feel more like me?

For me, that's the heart of the difference between traditional research papers and the non-traditional methods I've been using for my research. The element of the personal in blogging is so important. It gets me excited and it keeps others interested. I'm allowed to be a person, not just a cool, collected, objective third party. I don't have to have the entire thing mapped out, the organization completely precise, and my sentences completely logical.

That's not to say that that kind of writing isn't useful. Sometimes it's very important to be formal and impersonal. Sometimes people don't care about who I am and what I think; they just want to see well-presented facts. So, of course, being able to write that way is valuable. However, in our world, most people don't have any interest in logically presented facts unless there is a strong element of the personal. If I don't seem personally invested in the subject matter, then why should they be invested in it? And if they don't know who I am, why should they care about the things I care about?

After I had come to really appreciate the power of the personal in research methods, it was hard to go back to the cold formality of the traditional research paper. In some ways, though, it was sort of nice to go back. I'm the sort of person who appreciates a well-constructed sentence and organization that makes sense. I like to have a product to look back on and admire.

But I also missed being able to put myself more into what I was writing. I hope that my passion for the topic carried through in the final draft of the paper, but I know that even if it did it certainly wasn't at the same level it was in my previous blog posts.

I'm excited to apply what I've learned about new research methods to my future writing. I honestly don't think I'll ever be able to completely go back to doing it the way I used to. I hope I don't.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Final Draft!

Emily Coleman
Professor Gideon Burton
English 295 Section 01
8 June 2012



“Tomorrow is Another Day”: Using the “New Day” of the Internet to Strengthen Gender Roles

In Margaret Mitchell’s classic tale Gone With the Wind, white Southern plantation owners are struggling to get through huge societal change. The Civil War and its aftermath leaves some characters helpless while others use the change to their advantage. The title itself suggests that the issues of the time period are gone with the wind; however, we may be more similar to the novel’s characters than we ever supposed. We, too, are facing the struggle of learning to deal with the onslaught of the digital age and the Internet. Many of our traditions are changing, including gender roles. However, many don’t realize that while some aspects of gender roles are being left behind, others are being strengthened. Like Scarlett and Melanie of Gone With the Wind, modern women are benefited the most when they use the great societal change of the Internet to strengthen their social role as women.

Like the white Southerners in Gone With the Wind, people are dealing with the coming of the Internet in many different ways. In the book, the elite white Southerners rush off happily to war, excited to “lick the Yankees,” but as they begin to lose the war, they start dealing not only with tragedy and heartbreak, but many difficult societal changes. They are forced to abandon their entire way of life. Many don’t have the skills or the guts to find their way in the new society. The South is taken over by Carpetbaggers and “white trash,” while the former elite are left trying to figure out where their old ways have gone. The societal changes faced by the Southerners are remarkably similar to the changes our society is going through today. With the coming of the digital age, some are still shell-shocked, unable or unwilling to come to terms with the technology that is taking over our lives. The Southerners in Gone With the Wind faced many of the same challenges. Ashley Wilkes, an able, educated plantation owner prior to fighting in the Civil War, never recovered emotionally after his return, living off the charity of others and unable to take care of his own. Like Ashley, some of us who thrived before the digital age are now finding themselves helpless without the necessary skills to succeed in a world run by technology. Many, however, are using the powerful tool of the Internet as a new way to manage their social life, particularly women.

Monday, June 4, 2012

“Tomorrow is Another Day”: Using the “New Day” of the Internet to Strengthen Gender Roles--First Draft



Here is the first draft of my paper. The citations are (obviously) messed up and I still need to provide documentation, it's not quite long enough, and it needs a lot of work. I would love to get your feedback.

Gone With the Wind, by Margaret Mitchell, is a story of Southern plantation owners trying to live through the Civil War and its aftermath. In the book, the elite white Southerners rush off happily to war, excited to “lick the Yankees,” but as they begin to lose the war, they begin dealing not only with tragedy and heartbreak, but even more difficult societal changes. They are forced to abandon their entire way of life. Many don’t have the skills or the guts to find their way in the new society. The South is taken over by Carpetbaggers and “white trash,” while the former elite are left trying to figure out where their old ways have gone.

The South of the 1800s may be gone with the wind, but the societal changes faced by the Southerners are remarkably similar to the changes our society is going through today. With the coming of the digital age, some are still shell-shocked, unable or unwilling to come to terms with the technology that is taking over our lives. Many, however, are using the powerful tool of the Internet as a new way to manage their social life. In particular, women are using social networking tools to expand their social reach. As a result, women are expanding their traditional gender role while, at the same time, preserving it. 

The characters of Scarlett and Melanie from Gone With the Wind are two distinct and opposite examples of ways that women were and are able to deal with great societal change. Melanie is depicted as the picture of femininity. One of her most traditionally feminine characteristics is her social grace. For many years, women have been considered more social than men. Before the war, Melanie is a graceful hostess, knows everyone and never says a bad word about anyone. She is a sweet, reserved Southern belle, never stepping beyond the path prepared for her. However, she doesn’t cower from the tragedy of the war. Instead, Melanie uses the Civil War and the Reconstruction as an opportunity to expand the definition of femininity. 

Similarly, many women of the digital age are expanding their gender role. Women continue to be the more social gender. Research shows that the numbers of female users of social networking tools like Facebook and Twitter far exceed the numbers of male users. In the words of Elisa Camahort Page, co-founder of BlogHer: “In general women adopt social networking tools more highly than men, and they are more engaged and active on those tools. . . . Women are actually the majority user base for most social tools online.” Women are seeking social relationships, but like Melanie, they want to expand their social network and meet people that, without the Internet, they would never have been able to connect with.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Video Trailer!

video

After many, many technical difficulties (and then a final editing process which took about half an hour), here is the trailer video for the paper! The first draft will be finished on Monday. Whew! 

Music by Kevin MacLeod: "Morning Snowflake", 2005 (public domain)

Special thanks to my lovely bilinguals: 
Rea (Tagalog), Louisa (German), Cynthia (Spanish), Sarah (Portuguese), Rachel (Chinese), Kathleen (Swedish), Alissa (Japanese), Melody (Russian), Catherine (Thai), and Rebecca (American Sign Language).

Thank you for watching!

The video can be found on Youtube at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q9ULP0DR3TA&feature=youtu.be