Context: Do you remember the first time you sent an email to your friend? Or, what about the first time you posted a picture of yourself on the Internet? Over the past twenty years or so, we have all become a part of the information age or what some call the digital revolution. While everyone here has attained literacy—the ability to read and write, have you ever thought about your journey to becoming computer literate?
The Assignment: Write a four-five, page essay in which you describe/narrate/analyze your experiences using technology. There are a number of ways to handle this assignment, but here are three possible approaches:
A. Write about your journey to becoming technologically literate. This story does not need to begin during your childhood experiences, but it could. In fact, it can focus on any time in your life when using the Internet and/or other technologies became an important facet of your daily routine. It’s also possible that some of you were not born, iPhone in hand, and are still struggling to find your place in this “brave new world.” You can write about that! You should chronologically trace your growth and development (socially, educationally, professionally, etc.) in this technological era.
B. Write about your online or virtual identity. In your essay, you should respond to the question: how does your online identity differ from your offline identity? Nowadays, it’s common to assume multiple online identities through social media websites such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, or video sites such as YouTube and Vine. You could look over your status updates, tweets, photos, and/or videos that you have posted and come to some conclusions about your online persona. Either way, the key is to use examples from these various experiences.
C. This third approach is a combination of A & B. You could focus on one or two major experiences related to technology. For example, a previous student wrote about how he met his wife through social media and how their relationship developed over time. Another student wrote about her addiction to online gambling and how it forced her to stop using the Internet entirely.
No matter what approach you choose, the first step is to start doing some brainstorming. I would suggest exploring the following questions (you could make two or three of them the main focus for your paper). But, remember, do not organize your paper as if you are answering study questions for each paragraph.
• In what ways are you different online than you are in person?
• What do the types of social networks you use or the statuses you post, tweets, or photos reveal about your online identity?
• What are the specific memories you have about the computer/technology literacy road you have traveled thus far in your life? Has your road to technology literacy been an easy journey or a long, uphill climb? Why?
• Who influenced you or helped you on the road to literacy? Is there a teacher, friend, or family member who inspired you to learn how to use the Internet, other computer applications, video games, etc.?
• How has your ability/inability to become technologically proficient affected your ability to write, read, and perform well in college? What about your work performance?
• How has the Internet and/or other technologies improved or not improved your life?
• What types of technology do you use every day, and what do these technologies “say” about your beliefs, interests, values, etc.? Could you disconnect from these technologies if you had to?
Other Important Points:
–You do not need a thesis statement for this essay, but you should have a controlling idea that may or may not be stated in the writing. A controlling idea is essentially your purpose for telling this story. This may also work best in your conclusion instead of your introduction. However, you may include a thesis statement if it makes you feel more comfortable.
–Since this is your story and experiences, it is acceptable to use the first person (I), but try not to overuse it. For example, avoid phrases such as: I believe that social media is evil. Instead, just write: social media is evil.
–For this essay, you are not just narrating a story, but describing the events, using specific details and sensory impressions. Furthermore, you are analyzing the situations, explaining to the reader why these events are significant to the story’s purpose.
–In addition to using personal experience, you should incorporate quotes, summaries, and/or paraphrases from at least two of the following sources:
• “I Tweet, Therefore I am”
• “Attached to Technology and Paying a Price”
• “Smart People Prefer Curly Fries”
• “How Selfies Became a Global Phenomenon”
• “Forty Years of the Internet: How the World Changed Forever”
–Use only relevant details; too many extraneous details can slow down an essay’s pace.
–You should approach your audience as skeptical but willing to “go along for the ride.” Make sure you are specific when talking about people, places, and objects so that the writing is more relatable.
–For the structure, chronological (a time sequence) order normally works best, but you might explore other avenues such as telling your story in flashbacks or building up to a climax by providing hints along the way. Whatever you do, I encourage you to try and leave the five-paragraph essay format behind.
–Try to incorporate the 5 W’s & H: What happened? Who participated? When did it take place? Where did it take place? Why did this event take place? How did it happen? What did you learn?
–Using humor can also be a welcome addition to a narrative-based essay.
Your essay should:
• Address the assignment thoughtfully, analytically, and creatively
• Contain a controlling idea signaling your purpose
• Contain cohesive, focused, body paragraphs that relate back to your purpose
• Contain a logical (typically chronological) structure
• Include evidence from at least two sources from this Unit
• Maintain audience awareness (entertain and inform your readers)
• Use a consistent point of view (first person) and consistent verb tenses (past)
• Be nearly free of punctuation, mechanical and spelling errors
• Be 4-5 pages typed, double-spaced and formatted in MLA style
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