Technology and the College Student

In her post on October 14, 2010, Peggy writes about how new technology is making its way into the education system. As a ‘non-traditional college student’ (which means it’s been a long time since I graduated from high school!), I too have been introduced to a new way of learning.


Take one class I participated in just last spring where two groups of college students from two city universities were sent into the streets of Central Baltimore to find some creative inspiration. What did we do with all these creative musings? We created the Wiki page, Writing Central Baltimore; a collaborative literary database of the fiction and non-fiction writings by students from the School of Communications Design of the University of Baltimore (UB) and The Writing Seminar of Johns Hopkins University (JHU). 


Mentored by instructors Jane Delury (UB) and Tristan Davies (JHU), we spent the semester discovering the past, present, and possible future of Central Baltimore focusing on four historic neighborhoods: Barclay, Greenmount West, Charles North, and Old Goucher. Based what we discovered, we each wrote a series of short sketches, participated in a group project, and created an individual project spanning several pages with internal and external links. As you can see, the imagination soon ran wild with stories about long walks, baseball, lost history, and environmental and social issues.


 I’ll admit that, at first, the experience was a bit daunting for this 50-something college student, but the final payoff was more than I could have imagined. I not only worked on my writing skills, but I also learned a bit about the technical side of the wiki page (although don’t ask me for advice), and the power of social media: The Jones Falls Watershed Association, who was valuable to my research for a project about the Jones Falls, promptly linked to our pages. What’s more, Writing Central Baltimore will continue to grow with plans for future classes to collaborate and add to its content, proving that the era of the standard college class is coming to an end as social media tools such as the Wiki become more accessible.


 So I guess my experience shows that collaboration, social media tools, and the right incentives really do drive creativity!


 Important Tidbit! The project was supported by a grant from the Central Baltimore Partnership, the Central Baltimore Higher Education Collaborative, and a Provost’s Grant for Innovation in the Arts from Johns Hopkins University.