Getting Started

Yesterday I met Monique McGee, my now co-editor of the main SIF (Student Innovation Fellowship) blog. We sat down to talk about the direction our blogs, and the main blog, would take over the course of this SIF induction. In case I haven’t yet mentioned, we are the first SIFs ever. Not Monique and I alone – there are about 18 (guestimation on my part) of us. And we’ll all be getting started, bumping around in the night, together.

A few things I learned from our very first meeting, which also included our new colleague Ramsundar Sundarkumar, called simply Ram (I’ll link his blog as soon as I can), include the following:

1. It’s going to be fun to be a SIF. There is a sense of humor in the office that is subtle, dry, and referential to a lot of the pop culture I already love.

2. Anything could happen this year. ANYthing – could happen this year.

We are all on this journey to explore innovation – we all have different skills – we all want to learn as much as possible.

If I had a seat-belt here in my kitchen where I am currently standing and writing, I would strap myself in.

It’s the Little Things…

A large portion of my life has been spent missing out on little things – normal things that happen to most ‘normal’ people. For example: I had never celebrated Halloween until I was an adult. Sure, my family let us go to ‘The Harvest Festival’ at church, which was pretty much the same thing – but I’d never been trick-or-treating. In kindergarten, I took it upon myself to tell all the other kids that Santa Clause wasn’t real and their parents were all liars. Needless to say, my parents got a call that day.

Fast forward to my college years, and would you believe me if I told you I got all the way to my senior capstone seminar without ever having written a paper over 5 pages? Well, it’s true. It’s unfortunate and true.

And yesterday, one of my closest friends said the following to me: “How have you never extracted a file before? How is that even humanly possible?”

The truth is that I have never had to extract a file before. I have (probably too many) guy friends that are somehow involved with the computing profession and who have always just done everything for me. So on Monday, when I went to download Adobe CS6 onto my personal computer (which I lovingly refer to my PCcomputer [yes I do that on purpose]), I had no idea it would take several hours. Zero of the ideas. I thought something was wrong. I thought I had done it all wrong and everything was broken and it was all over.

As it turns out – my experience was totally normal. Everything uploaded, installed, and extracted just fine. And now I have CS6 on my computer. Next step – learn the differences between Adobe on PC vs. Mac. Another little thing I am just now figuring out. I am not an Apple user. And all the lab equipment in my current lab is Apple. Lo!

You see – it’s the little things I’ve missed out on as I’ve begun my journey into tech. And I know I’m going to have more than a few struggles with very simple concepts, and that’s okay. I’m rather advanced in other areas, despite missing out on the starter activities. It makes me unique. And I’m okay with this.

SIF Introduction

When I began my studies in Rhetoric and Composition in the English department, I had no idea that I would become interested in technology. Three years later, I have been awarded a Student Innovation Fellowship, or SIF, through the Information Systems and Technology (IS&T) department of Georgia State University. I’m excited and a little nervous to be joining a team of student innovators who all possess different skills, backgrounds, and ways of implementing knowledges.

Over the course of the next year, and beyond, I will be running this blog to let those interested in on what is happening for me as I make my journey through my Humanities degree as a SIFellow. I bring a little bit of knowledge about a lot of software to the table, and I bring a lot of knowledge about creative deployment of technology in a classroom setting. My hope is that I will experience a unique sort of bartering over the next year as I get to know my colleagues and trade my know-how with theirs.

And since all blogs need a theme – I’ve given mine an inquiry theme. In April, 2014, I wrote an article for an open-access pedagogical journal called Hybrid Pedagogy called “Taking the ‘No’ Out of Innovation.”  As I formed the article, I found that no one out there in tech-talk land really has a strong idea of how to concretely define ‘innovation.’ As I find myself an “Innovation Fellow,” I feel it should be my pursuit as a Digital Humanist of sorts to attempt to nail down what this word means. What does it mean for me, personally? What might it mean for my colleagues here in the SIF Program? And what does it mean for the University system at large?

So join me in my journey to attempt to answer this question, and form new ones. I expect to have a bunch of successes, and a lot of fun failures. Please don’t hesitate to comment, or email me with any questions, problems or concerns you may have as you read.

– Valerie Robin