Rich Reflection: Personal Cyberinfrastructure

1. “A Personal Cyberinfrastructure,” by Walter Gardner Campbell

I completed a rich reflection for this article by using hypothes.is, which was easy to use and share! Highly recommend. My annotations/rich reflection on Campbell’s article can be found here. (Just click on the “<” on the right-hand side of the screen if you can’t see the annotations).

2. “A Personal Cyberinfrastructure Revisited,” by Walter Gardner Campbell

Campbell expands on his ideas of a personal cyberinfrastructure. I particularly liked the following excerpts from the video:

This is about the network as an artifact… It’s not simply a matter of technical skill… it’s also about the ability to externalize a model of one’s own conceptual framework.

I think it’s interesting that Campbell emphasizes this idea of “artifact.” Later in the video, he says that creating a personal cyberinfrastructure gives us the opportunity to create an “artifact that is an external representation of your own internal frameworks.” I’d always thought of blogging or informal publishing as primarily focused on sharing a particular message. But, I hadn’t considered that, in the process of sharing a message, we’re actually also sharing how we think the world works; we’re expressing our own “internal frameworks.” Conceptualizing digital citizenship in that way makes it seem less about pure information sharing, and more about artistry and expression.

3. “No Digital Facelifts,” by Walter Gardner Campbell

In this final Gardner Campbell reading, Campbell expands on the idea of moving beyond “digital facelifts.” When I opened the link to this video and saw the title, I was particularly pleased because the Clay Shirky phrase, “digital facelift” was a phrase that I had annotated in my first rich reflection, and so it was definitely a term that caught my attention. According to Campbell, “digital facelift” just refers to this idea that, we’ll keep doing whatever we did before, but now, we’ll just put it on the web. We’ll teach the way we always have, we’ll just use Blackboard or another LMS to help us out (that’s the college classroom version of a “digital facelift.”) We won’t let digital tools or the internet actually transform how we do things or how we think about things.

The part of this video lecture that was most meaningful to me was the three practices that Campbell suggests in place of a “digital facelift.” Instead of merely “doing what we’ve always done, but just put it on the web,” he suggests:

Narrating, curating, and sharing. Narrate: have students think out loud, and “tell the story of the learning.” Curate: arrange and take care of your ideas and your work; begin your life’s work when you begin learning or first start college. Share: put your work out there since it may be valuable to someone or you may make a connection with someone else.

I appreciate this section of the lecture because it was very practical. The previous two readings from Campbell built the case for the benefits a personal cyberinfrastructure, but this part of this video outlined how to actually complete this task, and I found it particularly relevant for the higher ed classroom.

Campbell also quotes Shirky as explaining that “we are living in the middle of the largest increase in the expressive capability of the human race,” and Campbell explains that he believes that “expressive capability” should be the “abiding” and “transforming” concern, especially in higher education. While I agree that this “expressive capability” should be a concern in higher education, I would be curious to explore what else should be an “abiding” and “transforming” concern in higher education. Is expression really the goal of education? Or is a tool we use on our journey towards education? If expression isn’t the goal of education, what is? Truth or accuracy? Discovery or innovation? Moral or personal development? Is expression more important when you’re educating journalists or artists, and less important when you’re educating engineers and physicians? At any rate, I appreciate the conversation Campbell’s personal cyberinfrastructure encourages and his holistic explanation of “disruptive” technologies.

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