Making the Shift to Digital

Surrounded by a sea of kindles at the beach, last winter, I remember feeling quite smug with my, however old fashion, paperback book. I liked the way it felt in my hands, the way it smelled, and being able to fold over pages, to see how much left of this novel world there was for me to explore.

I felt similarly about converting to the digital realm of writing. I had always been satisfied by a typical academic writing scenario in which you wrote pieces for your instructor, and potentially a few peer reviewers in your class whose faces you knew. For the first month of this class, the idea of writing academic blogs that were really, for the whole world to see was scary. So was the idea of publishing an eportfolio that could be searched on the internet, or posting a haiku on facebook that could be linked back to my name. All of these Web 2.0 interactions in an academic setting scared me. But do I think that I have grown from being forced to engage in them? Absolutely.

Yes, we are much more technologically advanced than our parents who still struggle to take photos on iPhones, but as Clark addresses, we as millennial students did not grow up exposed to digital texts in an academic setting, and thus, we resist that integration. My sister, on the other hand in her fourth grade class is using ipads to create google powerpoints. She has grown up with the idea that new media technology has a place in the classroom. She could teach me a few things about various technologies and sites that I have never even come across!

Ultimately, as Clark addresses in one of the  final lines of her article, “We need to work to help the profession embrace digital rhetoric not as a fad, but as a profound shift in what we mean by writing, by literacy, and by cultural communication.” Although the shift to eportfolios and public domain is frightening for us millenials, it is the direction in which our culture is going and we must grapple with the fact that academic writing no longer involves simply student-to-teacher sharing, rather our writing might be shared with anyone who happens to click on our page.

Sophie Burton

Sophomore in LSA, from Minnesota. I love yoga and sea salt truffles.

3 thoughts to “Making the Shift to Digital”

  1. Sophie, I think you touch on a lot of interesting points here. First of all, as millenials, you are absolutely right in saying we are on both sides of this digital revolution. This is something I think of a lot because I think it’s a really unique position to be in as a student. We remember the age of floppy disks but we are also undeniably attached to our phones and all the apps in them from Facebook to weather. For us, we can relate to a life before digital rhetoric dictated how we interact but we also know how to engage in digital platforms effortlessly. Your example of your sister is the perfect illustration of this.

    I appreciated the example of your sister because I don’t really have a similar experience or comparison. Being the youngest member of my family, I don’t know much about the interactions of people younger than me. It’s interesting to hear that they are consistently using iPads and technology that certainly did not have a place in my own childhood.

    Your relationship with the printed word is something definitely more relatable to our parents and something i can identify with as well. There is something comforting about holding a book in print and being able to see your progression through what you referred to as the “novel’s world”. As we dive into the digital rhetoric of this class I think we will begin to identify more with your younger counterparts, such as your sister, but I think there is something valuable with being able to identify with older, more traditional modes of communication.

  2. Sophie– I ABSOLUTELY love reading books in paperback. I tried once reading a book on an iPad, and let me tell you something, it was God awful! I too, at first, was skeptical about having another academic blog. But like Anisha addressed in her blog, this blog process became more natural than forced from collaborative efforts. Since reflecting from Anisha’s blog and reading yours, it is unique to think about the opportunities that are offered to us that seem so “far-fetch” due to the digital rhetoric aspect because we are the millennial students compared to your fourth grade sister, where it seems naturally for them to use iPad’s in class like it’s been something for everyone. For my final reflection, I 100% agree with you that it is still frightening to me that we are “forced” into this adaptation of technology and that it is scary that we are pushed to create digital rhetoric projects. But in the end, everyone knows that this technology is only going to advance in this world, so like Clark addressed in her final lines are only true and we must take that on ourselves.

  3. Sophie,
    It was refreshing reading that you and Emily also prefer paperback books! I tried reading a book this summer on an iPad…let’s just say that the book was never finished. For some reason, my attention and interest lack when a story is simply on a screen versus when I am able to flip through it myself.

    I also really enjoyed your brutal honesty with regards to posting publicly. I felt just as scared! Especially posting on Facebook for the competition. It made me uncomfortable combining that part of the classroom with my social media account. But after posting, I thought to myself, “Why does this frighten me? Shouldn’t I be excited to show my peers this side of who I am?”

    Your argument about us being millenials answered this question for me. Since we did not grow up exposed to these digital texts, it oftentimes feels strange for us. We have seen the progression of this technology; as a result, we are used to keeping our information separated since it is constantly new to us. I think with more practice of working on our “digital selves” we will become more comfortable. I can already see a change in this for me simply from a semester in the minor!

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