Since I’ve been more actively posting to my blog this semester (as part of Intro to Digital Media), I wanted to take this opportunity to publicly thank all the professors I’ve had the pleasure of taking classes with this spring and reflect on what I’ve learned. Not that I haven’t appreciated everyone I’ve had classes with in the past either, I just didn’t have an active platform or audience for thanking you publicly at the time ;) Someone has to contextualize the bias of Rate My Professors' reviews, right?
Today was essentially the last day of class for me, as I only have one to attend tomorrow morning. However, it was bittersweet since I spent the entire night doing homework (the first full all-nighter I’ve had in 3 years at Michigan Tech), so I was tired and irritable for most of the day. Not an ideal last day by any means. Even in this unpleasant state, I was reminded of why I enjoyed going to class every day, despite the work involved sometimes: the people. That’s not to say that I didn’t enjoy the content as well, or that it doesn’t matter. But, I believe that students learn more from passionate and motivated professors, someone they connect with, or someone they find interesting regardless of the course/topic. Fortunately, I’ve found a lot of those people at Michigan Tech.
Hopefully by working my way through this semester, in reverse order of my class schedule, I can support that statement:
Jingfang – Tech Comm in a Global Context
Thank you for telling me about the CCCC in much more detail when I asked about it on your syllabus! Had I not asked, I would have missed out on the greatest experience I had this year, and I appreciate everything you and everyone else involved did to make that trip even more valuable. When most students see that their professor has scheduled project workdays and will be out of town for a conference, I doubt they think, “Hey, I wonder if I can go to that conference too?” The fact that I would want to spend an entire day at the same event as my professors instead of just having the day off from class says a lot.
I also learned more than I ever expected to from the class. Going into the course, I was wary of students with international experiences, globalization, and a general sense of competition with “foreigners.” However, I no longer view any of those things in a negative way, and I’ve tried to focus on what opportunities arise from embracing globalization and the experiences of others. Instead of fearing that I’ll be “left behind” or feeling threatened, I can see how well I’m positioned with my own experiences, skills, and understanding of the world. Much of that experience also comes from the class itself. I also never considered so many theoretical concepts of culture, translation, etc. that seem to apply in many situations beyond performing typical technical communication tasks.
I’m glad I decided to take this class, and it’s already proving to be extremely useful in other applications. It also made me very aware of my limits, particularly in terms of my visual design skills, but that’s a good thing. I look forward to working with you this summer, and I hope it’s an equally educational experience. Thanks for everything Jingfang! I consider you an integral part of my STC experience, particularly because I’ll have had at least 4 classes with you by the time I graduate.
Wendy – Intro to Digital Media
Did I actually learn anything in class this semester? :p Taking this class helped me keep things in perspective, in that there is an upcoming class of STC/A majors, and many of them have great potential to do amazing things (some just might not recognize that yet). It’s cool to see the similarities in personalities, experiences, and concerns in a “I remember when I was in their shoes” way. And then I realize it was only a semester or two ago that I was. Furthermore, I was reminded that people at all levels of experience, and from different backgrounds, have different literacies and perspectives on the topics discussed in class. While I can’t say that I felt the same sense of community as I did in Web Design (I think that may be partially because of the room setup and the broader focus of the course), discussions were equally thought provoking, and I’m glad I took the class even though I didn’t technically have to. As I said earlier, it’s not just about the content. That said, I’m also glad that my media production has turned into an amazing opportunity for learning beyond a graded assignment in class. Coming into the course, my biggest concern was that I wouldn’t be able to create something worthwhile for that project.
I never thought I would be learning about crazy French philosophers in a media course, or that those philosophies would haunt me forever. Baudrillard be damned. I also never began to anticipate how much I would grow personally, and academically, because of your mentoring outside of class. Over the course of a semester, I feel like I’ve completely changed how I see myself and the world, and it’s been fun seeing you grow (physically and otherwise) from how I perceived you to be a year ago as well. Thank you, Wendy. I hope you enjoy the journey of parenthood, and I can’t wait for everything next spring! Again, thank you for helping me out with Cs as well.
Luke & Felicia – Intro to Digital Media
While you two aren’t technically listed as professors on my transcript, I consider you to be an important part of this semester’s experience in class as well as outside, just as much as any professor. I can honestly say I would be happy to take a course taught by either of you, and I wish each of you the best in future endeavors. Thanks for taking time to answer my questions about grad school, and for being a point of comparison to graduate students in other programs. Based on my limited perspective, you both represent the quality of Michigan Tech’s graduate programs very well, and I wouldn’t be surprised to hear that you’ve done something great in the future. Keep up the good work, and thanks for contributing a unique perspective to Intro to Digital Media this semester. You made it even more awesome!
Marika – Grant Writing
Honestly, I wish you would teach more courses :p This was probably the last class I’ll take with you simply because I’ve already taken everything else, but I’m really excited about the Cs panel (fingers crossed) and hope that we can work on preparing for that over the summer. I really appreciate the assistance with this year's conference and the next one. I feel like I haven’t gotten to work with you much or known you very well during my time here, but you always seem to be involved somehow behind the scenes. I suppose I should join the STC Student Chapter ;)
Grant writing was definitely one of the most valuable courses I’ve taken at Tech. I didn’t know anything about grants, grant proposals, the writing process, funding, etc. before taking the class. While I still feel like I have a lot to learn, I’m at least familiar enough with everything that I can apply what I’ve learned to a variety of situations and learn more in the future. Furthermore, I really felt like I accomplished something meaningful by assisting the SSPHRC, even though our group didn’t locate an active grant. At times, I was sick of writing about the same thing over and over, but after finishing the proposal last night I felt a pride like I hadn’t experienced with any other group project, or individual project for that matter. It definitely wasn’t just relief to be done, rather “Wow, this is only 9 pages… but we worked hard to develop every word of it, review for every little detail, and gather almost all the information from outside ourselves. This is really worth something.” And that’s for something that has no guarantee of ever being funded!
What I learned about whitepapers and collaborative writing environments from this course has already benefited me in other classes and projects, and I’m sure this experience will be even more useful in the future. I’m thankful not only for having an awesome group to work with on the project, and a great client organization, but also for having an excellent professor facilitating all of this. Thanks, Marika.
Jeff Stroud – Beginning Riflery
This one is pretty self-explanatory: I shot an air rifle 9:35-10:25 AM TR. I learned that shooting from a prone position requires more physical effort than I initially thought, but I also learned the proper position for shooting prone and sitting (I basically knew how to shoot standing already). I gained some scar tissue on my elbows and determined that I still have a tendency to jerk the trigger when I’m not shooting standing/freehand. When I do jerk the trigger, I pull consistently low and to the right.
The safety lecture/signs were also interesting from a tech comm. standpoint, as was the message written in permanent marker on the drinking fountain warning people that it could possibly be contaminated with lead particulate. I’m not sure I’m any better at shooting than I was before, but I learned some new positions, and I have another 0.5 PE credits towards graduating. Thanks for that, and for excusing me from class while I was in Atlanta. It was fun shooting the paper targets, the giraffe, army men, and making sure no dinosaurs were left standing.
Professor Mejame – Existentialism
I really didn’t know what to expect from this class, as I had never heard of existentialism before, and I took it partially because I didn’t have many other options. However, after going through it, I’m very glad I did. The timing of this course couldn’t have been more perfect as I explored issues of postmodernism, socially constructed realities, and simulation in Intro to Digital Media while in Tech Comm in a Global Context we discussed issues of culture, language and translation, and perspective. Studying philosophy in general was completely new to me, and Kierkegaard was definitely a mental stretch, but Camus and Sartre both made sense to me personally. I was also surprised after writing this piece to discover Sartre was discussing the same issue when we started reading him a week or two after I wrote that.
Explaining the importance of this class to my enjoyment this semester is somewhat difficult. The class itself doesn’t necessarily have much purpose in a vacuum, but it’s also hard to explain how easily it applies to both everyday life and “the real world” or professional practice. All I can say is that these philosophies permeate everything I see in some way, and while much of the writing I’ve done on this blog during the semester is rather focused on digital media, I’ve also reflected on these philosophies in my personal life and how they apply to specific disciplines or practices. This course made me think.
You had a rather unique way of explaining things and questioning people, and sometimes this made for hilarious situations and confusion, but I was glad that you forced people out of their comfort zones to consider philosophical issues and challenge their thinking. I think everybody got the intended message eventually, whether they realized it or not. I really enjoy classes that emphasize discussion/discourse, and this class had plenty of that. I’m definitely more interested in philosophy now than I was before taking the class to say the least. Thanks for exposing me to something completely new.
Dr. Huang – IS/IT Management
While I can’t say that I gained much technical knowledge from this class, or that what practical knowledge I gained is immediately applicable, I did get a different perspective on how other students from around campus might view IS/IT and/or how familiar they are with related technologies. It was also interesting to see how many different components there are to the field, and how many applications there are for relevant knowledge, as well as how management plays an integral role in the various applications of knowledge and systems. In that sense, this class was very valuable to my overall education and my emphasis area as an STC major in particular, as more companies are looking for technical communicators with management abilities. The course also raised several thoughts about some of the differences in teaching styles between various disciplines, what theories are considered important, etc. So, I think much of what I gained was at a more theoretical level than a practical one, and may not have had much to do with IS/IT at all. I’m not sure whether or not that fits the goals of the course, but thank you for enlightening me, Dr. Huang :) I would gladly take another course with you in the future.
Last spring, I was convinced I would never have another semester that was as awesome as that one. I also worried that this one might be miserable since I took two writing courses and a 4000 level philosophy class. Thanks to all of you for proving me wrong and making this semester so enjoyable. And just to be clear, I have never had a “bad” semester or even a “bad” class at Michigan Tech. Furthermore, countless people have taught me just as much valuable information that has nothing to do with any classes I’ve taken, and I’ve gained something from every professor I’ve ever taken class with. So, just because I didn’t have class with you this semester and/or you weren’t mentioned here, doesn’t mean that I didn’t enjoy taking one with you last semester, or the previous one, etc. or that I’m not taking multiple with you next semester.
I can honestly say that I wouldn’t be getting much of an education if I relied solely on “favorites” or ignored what the amazing faculty here have to offer beyond what I understand or am sometimes interested in. As an STC major, my value (and enjoyment) comes from the ability to adapt, learn, and understand concepts and information from a diverse range of sources, then synthesize that information to create something and spread it to others (in a very broad sense). That means learning outside of just what’s taught in class as well, so I thank all of the people who have contributed in any way to my success as a student, even if I haven’t had class with you. I may have worked with you on a project (or am currently working with you :) ), simply asked a question, or listened to a lecture. Additionally, my classmates, peers, friends, etc. are part of this educational experience too. Thank you all for creating a great learning community that can’t be found everywhere! Regardless of your role, you’ve all made this an amazing semester, and I look forward to the next one.