Prior to entering the classroom for my first day in this course, I remember considering myself to be proficient in all things digital. For my generation, growing up with technology was incredibly normalized. Additionally, technology played the milestone role in the timeline of my life events. From receiving my first handheld gaming system, to my first mp3 player, to a digital camera, followed by an iPod, and then, of course, the status-symbol that was my first cell phone, and later my very own laptop that was separate from my family’s shared desktop– technology was the trusted partner that I grew closer to as I grew older. Due to the influential relationship I had built with technology throughout my journey to adulthood, I envisioned myself as a tech-savy individual who would be ready to handle anything this course would throw at me. However, I will humbly admit that the programs we have been working with mimic my experience studying a foreign language.
Yes, I am comparing software such as atom and virtualbox to my beginner-level Spanish courses in high school. I previously presumed Spanish would be something I’d learn easily. Before my first period class with Mrs. Mondo, I expected I’d comprehend the language in the same way that I excelled in my English classes. I assumed with my familiarity to Spanish due to television and telenovelas, my knowledge of the cuisine, and my trips to Europe that I would feel comfortable exploring Spanish linguistics. But I soon realized it was much more complex than I had imagined. I am having the same experience in ENGL 340. Even though I assumed I’d feel confident in a course surrounding technology due to my experience with Photoshop, iMovie, and other programs, I am quickly grasping the concept that I have plenty more to learn. The phrase “you learn something new everyday” is my motto for my experience with the course so far. Although I am at times feeling lost or confused, similar to my preliminary Spanish classes, I am also gaining comfort with new tools that I had not even known my computer had. Truthfully, I believe that breaking out of my comfort zone is a blessing in disguise. I am eager to explore other software programs. I am eager to challenge myself. I am eager to reflect on my proficiency with the digital world again in a few months; hopefully to report a breadth of new skills.
On the other hand, what I lack in my newly-discovered novice technology skills, I am hoping to make up for with my experience in humanities. I define humanities as a way that a culture interacts with literary text. Due to the rise in online texts, I was immediately intrigued by the title of the course combining the two disciplines. Digital Humanities appears to align with the direction that education is headed. When I began my student teaching placements, I was shocked to learn that my students were not going to be using tattered, ripped-out-of-a-spiral-notebook, loose-leaf paper to record their reflections in our English class. Instead, my students were accustomed to the world of having their own personal Chromebooks. The Chromebooks were provided by the school district. The switch to consistent digital resources being available to every student meant that there was no longer a need for me to print out articles, poems, worksheets, etc. Instead, using the Chromebooks established a line of online communication between the students and I, and between the students and their peers. I loved the opportunities that came along with the Chromebooks. I was able to create documents, questions, and activities, that students could respond to instantaneously. Similarly, I believe that responses and conversations play a vital role in the domain of humanities. Reading a literary text is one thing. But engaging, conversing, and forming an argument on a text is when the necessary interactions and potential to influence a culture take place. As access to online resources and online communication becomes more readily available, through school’s providing Chromebooks or merely from increased online activity, I believe that digital humanities will become a more dominating force in the scholarly world.
Moreover, I believe that the continuation of courses that mirror ENGL 340’s principles will help increase exposure to the world of digital humanities that I truly did not have until my participation with student teaching. However, the fact that I am even writing a blog post as an assignment correlates with the potential for future texts entering the literary canon may derive from purely online sources. In fact, in a course taken with Ken Cooper last semester, I explored the narrative of online food-blogs for a research paper. Not only did I take into account the content of the given recipe, but the creativity that is associated with the blogs. Nowadays it seems as if you cannot read a recipe without first reading an essay on the author’s nostalgic retelling of their grandmother baking it for their family on a cold night in November. I find that to be important. Even simple cooking websites are outlets for literary texts. And just like blogging sites like WordPress, food blogs allow for an open line of communication due to the users’ ability to comment and share the posts. My prediction for the future of literary texts will be that humanities works can also be commented on and shared instantaneously, just as I discovered is possible to happen within the classroom with my students. I predict that as more and more people gain access to digital programs, more and more people will gain access to learn something new everyday.