Personal Cyberinfrastructure

Reading the article “A Personal Cyberinfrastructure” by Gardner Campbell was actually a kind of moving experience for me. His view of higher education in light of the concept of a “digital facelift” resonated with me deeply. I actually feel like he beautifully analyzes this concept in paragraphs eight and nine. Of the two, I want to analyze paragraph nine–the first part of which (shortened) claims that:

 Pointing students to data buckets and conduits we’ve already made for them won’t do… For students who have relied on these aids, the freedom to explore and create is the last thing on their minds, so deeply has it been discouraged.

I feel like this is really true. Although I’ve learned, in this “cyberspace and society” class for example, to make blog posts, to use twitter and flickr and various programs–ultimately, I feel like I have less freedom to express myself. I still know nothing about the internet. Although he emphasizes the stress placed on platform/medium as a facelift, I feel like in an educational sense it’s more than that. Maybe it’s the fact that a class has to be graded; when I put a lot of time and thought into the writing of a blogpost that only gets 2 or 3 out of 5 points, it makes me think that “higher education” all a bit of a contradiction. Is this what I’m supposed to care about? I wonder. Am I supposed to be catering to this professor that I pay to teach me? He mentions this in the very next sentence:

Many students simply want to know what their professors want and how to give that to them.

Maybe I’m optimistic, but I think that no student starts out that way. I also hope that no teacher intends to cause their students to feel this way, but most teachers end up doing so anyway. Realistically, I think this is no fault of their own–but in a system that “grades” there are bound to be misunderstandings, mistakes, and disappointments which will cause the students to conform to this mindset, however much they dislike it. Even if the teacher he describes here–

…what the professor truly wants is for students to discover and craft their own desires and dreams…

does in fact want the students to succeed, the moment the system puts the pressure of “getting a bad grade” on them,  he can not help but stifle their innovation.

In conclusion, although I love Campbell’s article, I think that it is unrealistic in the current educational system; what I do hope for is that we as students will eventually learn more than the “mediums” of the internet, so that we can attain our personal cyberinfrastucture individually at some point in our futures.

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3 thoughts on “Personal Cyberinfrastructure

  1. I have to say I agree with you about the conclusion you came to. I think that it is highly unrealistic in the education system of today to achieve such a goal without some sort of sweeping reform, not to mention funding for it.

  2. You and Mark are both correct that what Dr. Campbell proposes would require a dramatic rethink of what higher education is and how it works. That was one of the driving ideas behind McLuhan’s project to analyze and understand the impact media has had and will have on society.

    It would seem that in the half century since McLuhan began writing on the topic higher education has not yet been so transformed.

    I’m sorry that you feel unfairly treated in the scoring of blog posts. As you mention, the system I’ve set up to assign grades in this class does run counter to what I claimed to be my primary motivating force as an educator: the quote from Campbell about students discovering and crafting dreams and desires. But the system under which we operate requires that some scoring standard be used.

    As for the numbers you mention, there seems to be a bit of confusion. The 5 point scale is for the ds106 assignments. Blog posts totals are computed differently. 3 points is generally the maximum score (there have been a few exceptions this semester but not many). The blogging score is computed for each of the four sections and also takes in to account the number and quality of posts beyond those specifically assigned. Sorry to waste space in your comment section to explain what should have been more clearly presented in class. I regret the confusion and aggravation this has caused you.

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