Final Essay: Reflection on Learning (PUB 802)

Each student will write a final essay (approximately 500-750 words) that outlines their experience in the course, and the ways in which their thinking about the roles of technologies in publishing, and in our lives, has changed as a result. Students can focus on a single takeaway, on several, or discuss the course as a whole. The takeaway need not be about a specific piece of knowledge, but rather about the experience as a whole.

Three months after the start of PUB 802 – Technology & Evolving Forms of Publishing, I can barely remember what I wrote on my cue card on that first day when we were asked to write out what we wanted to get from the class—but no matter what I wrote, I leave this class satisfied with the knowledge I have gained.

I remember feeling slightly overwhelmed by the fluid structure and the amount of autonomy we were given from day one. But coming from an educational background (I work for a school board), I understood the reasoning behind and the importance of letting students take control of their own learning. I understood that I would be more engaged in the course material if I had played a role in selecting in.

It has been an interesting experiment, seeing how these strategies that we encourage our teachers to use have played a role in my own life over the course of the semester. And I think that when looking back on my year in Vancouver, this course will stand out for me because of the forward-thinking structure it was delivered in, and because I will remember more of the content having made a conscious decision that this was information that I wanted to learn.

While I’ve taken many marketing, business, writing, and design courses before and have found much overlap with that content and the content in many of our other MPub classes, this tech class contained new information—information that will have a real and lasting impact on my life.

As much as I had hoped around the start of the class that I would leave with more concrete skills to navigate the ever-evolving world of tech, I understand now after our deep dives into the difference between the web and the internet, digital reading, tracking and measuring, and so forth, that having the background knowledge and the language to talk about these things is equally important (and has hopefully given me a solid foundation on which I can base future independent hard skills learning on).

I think a big part of the reason I have been able to take so much away from this course is because we used the plugin to annotate all of our readings. While I have always been a decent note-taker, being required to dig deeper and pull meaning, connections, and questions from the text on a public stage in front of my classmates lead me to think much deeper about the readings rather than take them at face value. I found in doing the annotations, I became more critical of the authors and was more likely to fact-check their claims, even if the articles came from reputable sources. I was also much more likely to seek out additional information to broaden my and my classmates’ understanding of the topics we were learning about. This sense of community, both between myself and the class, and the class and the author, has helped hold us all accountable to being engaged and doing proper research. If only this relationship dynamic showed up more throughout the online world, it would be a healthier place.

I also have a new appreciation for evolving and emerging technologies such as AI. Prior to this class, I was fearful and skeptical (and I think I still am, which isn’t a bad thing), but now I am able to acknowledge the problems rather than ignore them. I definitely can’t fix them, but I know that having an awareness and understanding of how they impact my life and my career is necessary. Furthermore, I understand that things like AI and metadata can benefit our lives, such as by leading to greater accessibility, knowledge, and connection. But that without proper regulation in place to hold big tech (and ourselves) accountable in this very real world, the results could be disastrous, as we have seen recently with the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

I leave this class equipped with the tools necessary to understand technology, even as it shifts and changes. While we spent the last three months looking at things through a publishing lens, I feel that the background knowledge I have gained is applicable to many different fields and will be of benefit to me whatever career path I follow.

I could go on about my experience planning and leading a class, the weekly blog posts, or the contribution to public knowledge—all of which also challenged me to grow and learn—but I’m running out of space, so I will just say thank you instead.

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