College Student in the Digi-Age: Cyberinfrastructure

Hey all. This assignment is thus:

Discuss your thoughts and feelings about being a university student in the digital age. What do you hope to gain from your university experience. Do Campbell’s ideas about a personal cyberinfrastructure resonate with you? Explain why or why not.

And so, here I am.

The article that this reflection is based off of is here, by the way, just in case you want to read it.

Anyway. As a college student in this day and age, how do I feel?

It’s hard to say, really, for part of it. I mean, let’s face it: I don’t really remember a time before the Internet. I mean, I recall the different types — I still feel the excitement of no longer having to deal with dial-up. That was a wonderful day, I must say.

However, I’m inclined to agree: imagination is definitely down. Yes, there is this whole world of fun things to do — except that it’s the base world now, and no one is thinking about improvement, not really, it doesn’t seem.

I greatly enjoyed Gardner Campbell’s idea:

So, how might colleges and universities shape curricula to support and inspire the imaginations that students need? Here’s one idea. Suppose that when students matriculate, they are assigned their own web servers — not 1GB folders in the institution’s web space but honest-to-goodness virtualized web servers of the kind available for $7.99 a month from a variety of hosting services, with built-in affordances ranging from database maintenance to web analytics. As part of the first-year orientation, each student would pick a domain name. Over the course of the first year, in a set of lab seminars facilitated by instructional technologists, librarians, and faculty advisors from across the curriculum, students would build out their digital presences in an environment made of the medium of the web itself. They would experiment with server management tools via graphical user interfaces such as cPanel or other commodity equivalents. They would install scripts with one-click installers such as SimpleScripts. They would play with wikis and blogs; they would tinker and begin to assemble a platform to support their publishing, their archiving, their importing and exporting, their internal and external information connections. They would become, in myriad small but important ways, system administrators for their own digital lives. In short, students would build a personal cyberinfrastructure, one they would continue to modify and extend throughout their college career — and beyond.

Brilliant, no? It forces the individual to think about things, to play with what each college student takes for granted these days. Well, most students, anyway.

To some extent, I’ve been doing something along these lines in class. I have to say, though, that I think it would be amazing to jump that much farther into it. Of course, who has the time these days? In this world where nearly everything is computerized or otherwise digital, there’s simply no time to spare for playing with technology.

As far as what I hope to gain from uni? Well. A better job? A better understanding of the world? A network of some sort, more extensive than I could have made elsewise? These days, with social networking, a friend of a friend of a friend can be a contact.

Personally, I think college is an outdated system that misses the mark in many ways. At one time, it made plenty of sense, but these days? The degree I’ll get will be nearly worthless — it’s just a Bachelors, which is practically a dime a dozen these days. Plus, with the current level of tech, things that you could only get by going to school are available to anyone with a connection.

Sad, isn’t it?


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