I am thrilled to be joining you all this semester as an undergraduate representative in the course. We have so many topics to discuss, and I'm looking forward to learning from your diverse perspectives.
I have been interested in educational technology since high school. A true digital native, I began experimenting with digital media by publishing a video yearbook in eighth grade and ran with that interest in the time since. Throughout high school, I was involved with school newspapers and digital design; and as a gap-year student I began interested in blogs and new media technologies. Once I arrived at Penn State, I had a pretty clear idea of what I wanted to spend my time here working on. I wanted to launch a website for Penn State students that had the most immediate, accurate, and relevant information possible. Up to and through the first month of my freshman year, I planned to launch the website from within the Daily Collegian; however, as a Collegian candidate, I realized that the vision would be much better served independent of the newspaper.
Onward State has taught me so many lessons about disruptive technologies. The Internet is a unique historical phenomenon. Ultimately, it will affect every level of human existence. What I have been most concerned with is how the Internet, and specifically the Web and social media, can be reconciled with best pedagogical presences. At Onward State, we have been lucky to benefit from community interest and support, in addition to student staff members who have been willing to contribute out of pure passion for the enterprise (we also began offering stipends to our editorial leadership this past fall). Onward State also relies extensively on these technologies for its overall editorial management through our dependance on Yammer for day-to-day internal communications.
Yammer has been a product of particular interest to me. The impact that Yammer has had on Onward State has exceeded even my greatest hopes for it. Yammer takes the social lessons taught by Facebook and applies them to "work." The Onward State Yammer network has given us a way to collaborate and communicate at any time, anywhere about our editorial content.
I was excited to find out that we would be using Yammer this semester, and look forward to seeing how that turns out. It will be the first time I've used it for an overtly academic purpose and I have no idea how it will work. I'll be honest, though; I have a special interest in this idea. This past summer I was a Student Fellow for Teaching and Learning with Technology, the division of Penn State information technology that our instructor Cole Camplese runs. I worked with Educational Technology Services personnel (ETS is a a subunit of TLT) on next-generation university-centric social networks. We developed a set of expectations and hopes for a network of this type and, though they go our ultimate hopes for the concept go far beyond what Yammer could presently offer, the core principle of using an institutional social network to connect and collaborate, thereby enhancing traditional in-person courses, is something that has been to date studied far less than it should be.
This is my last semester as an undergraduate at Penn State. This spring I will graduate from the Schreyer Honors College with a degree in History and a minor in Science, Technology, and Society Studies. I am in the process of writing my thesis on a much older age of disruptive technologies, the militarization of American science during and after World War II, with a specific focus on Penn State and President Eric A. Walker. I've been spending my free time recently hanging out with my girlfriend, playing Skyrim, and wishing my apartment allowed dogs... and I'm looking forward to the rest of this course!