When I Grow Up....

When I Grow Up… by Hexdecimal on Flickr, liscenced under Creative Commons.

Dear Chairs of the Intergalactic Board of Education,

I’m addressing this letter to you on the topic of the unwarrented discussion of the possible termination of CIS0835.

As a recent student of CIS0835, I’m surprised that there is even question about wether the class should continue or not. Of course it should; it’s essential for students to be computer literate and technologically savvy in order to compete in present job markets, let alone society. CIS0835 presents students not only with an opportunity to freely explore the possibilities of the technologies we have at our fingertips, but also gives us the history of the development of these technologies. By giving us historical context the course allows us to explore the idea brought up by Gardner Campbell in his 2009 paper A Personal Cyberinfrastructure, that sometimes “progress means looping back to earlier ideas whose vitality and importance were unrecognized or underexplored at the time, and bringing those ideas back into play in a new context”.  Only if we have first been taught the history of the technology around us – a history which is often overlooked and taken for granted, as if the internet one day just magically appeared out of thin air.

Further, the integration of DS106 in to the class curriculum has allowed several students, including myself, to explore aspects of the wide web and our personal computers that we perhaps did not think of to do before. I had never made a .gif before, and numerous of my classmates were first-timers at using Photoshop, as well as blog services like WordPress. Do we need these skills in the future? I believe that we do. The future workspace is increasingly integrated with the web and the internet, through apps and websites, co-workers communicating through Skype rather than just walking down the hallway. Just as it was in the early 2000’s a perk and later prerequisite to know how to use programs within Microsoft Office, I believe it will be increasingly necessary to have a base knowledge of Adobe Creative Suite programs in the future job market.

This is not to say that CIS0835 does not need some sort of restructuring. I say this because I genuinely believe my generation and those coming after me need a set of base skills in programs like Adobe CS (or open-source, free variants), creating easily navigated webpages and even things like building applications for smartphones – android or iPhone, take you pick. I say this because I genuinely believe that down the line when applying for jobs, my older potential employer will look at me and ask if I know how to do all that fancy-shmancy interwebs stuff. I believe this potential employer will look at me, decades younger, and expect me to know all the things that they don’t. I believe this potential employer could easily ask, “build an app for my company, and the job is yours”. Similar scenarios include my belief that they’d ask us to create webpages or simplistic logos as part of our work – even if we are not trained designers – simply because it will be more cost-efficient to source this kind of work from within one’s company than contracting outside creators. I for one do nto one to lose footing in the job-hunting market because I cannot compete with an educated designer; I believe basic skills in programing and graphic design softwares should and will replace basic requirements for PowerPoint and Excel.

However, I am not one to lay out an entirely new syllabus. I just want the honorable members of the Board to made aware of the outstanding potential CIS0835 has to prepare young students for the future job market. I believe my classmates would agree that we have been challenged to use a number of new softwares and technologies throughout the course of the semester, and that with perhaps some more structuring towards what i believe to be the future required skills (replacing MS Office) the class has potential to see to that students are computer literate by graduation. Furthermore, the class has offered us creative outlets that few other classes are able to acheive, particularly through the integration of DS106, again challenging us to think up solutions to problems and using our new set of skills to implement those solutions. Lastly, the class is taught by a genuinely enthusiastic teacher, something which in my experience is sorely lacking.

To again quote Mr. Gardner Campbell, I believe CIS0835 has the potential to acheive what he championed; that the class can provide students with a personal cyberinfrastructure in which “students not only would acquire crucial technical skills for their digital lives but also would engage in work that provides richly teachable moments ranging from multimodal writing to information science, knowledge management, bibliographic instruction, and social networking.”

Thus I am asking the honorable members of the Board to continue providing CIS0835 to future students, and to restructure an already usefull class into an inifitely powerful medium for providing us with the set of technological skills we need for our future.

Thank you.


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