I'm intrigued by the unique relationship each of the TeachingAuthors has with computer technology, especially because my own undergraduate degree is in Mathematics and Computer Science. Unfortunately, that education predates personal computers and the widespread use of the Internet. (I know, I'm dating myself here.) However, although the programming languages I studied in school are virtually obsolete (Ever hear of COBOL?), the basic principles I learned back then still come in handy. Plus, I'm not intimidated by having to tweak HTML code once in a while to get around some of Blogger's quirks. :-)
In an interesting bit of Synchronicity, I'm preparing to teach a brand new class this Saturday that is very technology oriented: "Get Started Blogging." Not only is this a new subject for me, but it's also the first time I'll be teaching a class in a computer lab. (And I keep imagining all the things that could go wrong with the computers!) Of course, as always happens when I teach, I'm learning, too. For example, I learned that the word "blog" has it's origin in the word "weblog," which itself was coined back in 1997 by combining the terms web + log. I'm also learning new software. I decided to use Wordpress.com as the blogging platform for the sample blogs my students will be creating, instead of Google Blogger, which is the platform for our TeachingAuthors blog. That way, I can better share what I see as the pros and cons of the two platforms. If any of you have used both, I'd love to know which you prefer and why.
But back to the topic of how the digital age is affecting me, personally:
As a teacher:
- I'm exploring new teaching topics, such as blogging.
- I'm able to share resources easily and in an environmentally-friendly (paperless) way online, via links on this blog (such as the page of links to markets for young writers), on my website (which includes links to resources for writers of all ages), and on the special demo blog I'm creating for Saturday's class.
- I'm taking advantage of online lesson planning resources, such as ReadWriteThink.
- I recently bought my first e-reader, a NookColor. It allows me to borrow e-books from both my public library and other Nook owners, as well as own books I have no room to store in my home.
- One of the features I especially love about my NookColor is the ability to highlight sections of text and email them to myself, making it easy to accurately quote material in my class lectures.
- I've also downloaded apps that allow me to access and update my Word documents anywhere I have wi-fi connection.
- The Internet is an incredible research tool, and it's getting better all the time. While researching my young adult historical novel set in 18th-century Milan, I was able to find and read original source documents online with only a few clicks--in some cases these documents physically exist in fewer than five libraries in the whole world!
- A dynamic online presence via blogging and/or social media (as opposed to a static website), is now considered essential to a writer's career, for better or worse. The Internet is a great marketing tool, but a time-consuming one. I sometimes struggle with finding a balance between writing and keeping up with social media. There's currently a great discussion of this topic going on over at Greg Pincus's The Happy Accident blog.
While part of our goal is to discuss what we've learned about writing and the teaching of writing, we also hope to accomplish something here that we can't do on our websites: facilitate conversations between writers, teachers, and librarians about the subjects we love best--writing, teaching writing, and reading.I had no idea when I wrote those words what a welcoming and far-reaching community we were joining. The digital age has allowed me to form personal relationships with people I may never meet in person, including young readers, writers, teachers, librarians, editors, agents, and booksellers. And I'm happy to consider many of those people my friends. :-)
I'd love to know how the digital age is affecting you, our readers. I hope you'll share some of those ways in the comments.
And happy writing!