I remember that when we were first introduced to the idea of CyberEnglish during freshman orientation, I wasn’t really looking forward to the class. My computer skills have never been anything to brag about, and I wasn’t exactly looking forward to a class that was so technology-incorporated. I remember there was a lot of complaining among our class about how computers and technology had nothing to do with grammar and writing, and learning about internet safety and hyperlinks had nothing to do with English, and yes – I was among the complainers.
I felt a bit overwhelmed on the first day of class, when Ms. Degenhardt had us take notes on the differences between pages and posts, and I remember being nervous that I would lose a bunch of points and get a terrible grade in CyberEnglish because I would submit all of my posts as pages and all of my pages as posts. In fact, I did submit my first page, About Me, as a post, and had to resubmit it. During about the first month of class, when hyperlinks and other blog enhancements were introduced, I remember thinking that I probably wouldn’t end up doing a lot with my blog, simply because I didn’t know how. Widgets, tag clouds, collaboration emails – at first, I was totally lost. For about half of the first quarter, I only did the bare minimum. I submitted posts on time, I inserted hyperlinks when it was required, and for the most part, I stayed away from my blog – every time I went into my blog, I half-expected that I would click the wrong button and crash the computer.
I was also kind of self-conscious about my writing. In past English classes, the audience for my writing was pretty much limited to my teacher. This year, however, virtually anyone could read our blogs – friends, classmates, and theoretically, anyone with access to the internet. All of my writing would be out there for the world to see, and I wasn’t at all confident of the quality of my writing. Sure – my grade in past English classes had always been decent, but would decent be enough this year? After all, writing is subjective. With so much new information – blog posts, reader’s responses, literary analyses – I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to keep up. What would my writing say about me? What if it wasn’t what I wanted it to say?
However, as the year went on, I found myself enjoying CyberEnglish. I’ve always loved to read and write, and I began to love that there was actually a wide audience for the things I was writing. Through the ClustrMap widget, I was able to track everyone that went on my blog. I was able to see the total number of people who had been on my blog and all of the different countries they were from. I began enhancing my blog – adding widgets, such as LibraryThing and wordles, and I began experimenting with different themes and styles. I found myself going onto my blog a lot more, and I liked posting my work on the web. Comments and peer editing made me more confident as a writer, and I feel that this class really helped me improve the quality of my writing. I love looking back through my blog archives and realizing that I’ve grown as a writer.
I think that one of the things that helped me grow most as a writer was peer editing and being able to work with friends and classmates. I was able to see how others viewed my writing and get their opinions on it. I was able to experience a new kind of writing in collaborative projects, such as our Food Synthesis Project and our Newspaper Project, and I enjoyed the challenge of writing with other people.
Looking back, I think this class has taught me both about myself and my writing, and the things I’ve learned in CyberEnglish have carried into my other classes. By using technology, this class has exposed us more than any other class to the outside world, where there won’t be any teachers to go through every step with us or report cards to tell us how to improve. This class has given us all a chance to begin to realize and adjust to that. This class has taught me more about myself than I ever would have thought that a class could, and I honestly consider CyberEnglish to be of the most influential classes that I’ve ever taken.