As some of you may remember, I began the semester with a discussion of my distaste for certain forms of social media or (as my friends would call it) my undiagnosed Visiobibliophobia. While I would say my aversion had not reached the level of this phobia yet, I can confidentially say our class has shifted my mentality greatly.
To begin, I’d like to talk about Twitter. For a long time, this medium served no purpose in my mind. I could not understand why people felt the need to update the world on their daily activities, sometimes on an hourly basis. I knew that my life was not interesting enough for that and did not feel compelled to be that intimately aware of others’.
Over the course of this semester, however, I have found that Twitter can serve an entirely different purpose. In reality, for most, Twitter is a place to stay up to date on the latest news. Information is readily available on topics ranging from politics and world news to pop-culture and sports. Regular news outlets are present. Companies take part in the conversation. Individual, active participants share first-hand knowledge, experience, and opinions. In a short time, I found myself enjoying Twitter, spending much more time that it would actually take to produce the four weekly tweets mandated by class.
In terms of the blogs, I began the class apprehensive as well. I felt producing 800-1200 words every other week was a tall order, especially with very little direction. In time, however, I realized the purpose of this assignment and found it easier and easier to meet the very few requirements. It proved to be a great way to educate myself, learning about new concepts/companies/products from the class. As others have said, it also became a way to get to know my classmates (their interests, their personalities, their communication styles), something that is quite difficult in typical classes of this size.
Reflecting on last week’s class surrounding the future of work and contemplating what to write for this blog, I have come away with a few main ideas. It seems Professor Kane may even have structured the class in this way intentionally, preparing us for the future. First of all, based on our discussion last week, the future of work may require us to take a more generalized approach, rather than the specialization that has become so common. Over the course of the semester, we have highlighted automation creeping into every industry. We have talked about robots in the kitchen, machine learning in accounting, artificial intelligence in medicine. There is no escaping it, and everyone will be affected. As a result, it is in the best interest of all of us to remain informed about the changes that are happening now and the ones that may be coming down the pipeline. This means that knowing at least a little bit about a lot of things may be a more marketable skill. More specifically, this means the education system might have to change. As Kane warned us and most of us have seen, IS6621 is not the typical classroom. While we knew the general topics we would discuss throughout the semester, our conversations were not limited or structured in the typical fashion. We were asked to tweet multiple times, to comment on multiple blogs so that we were exposed to different concepts and communication styles. Rather than focusing solely on the videos or readings for the day, we were encouraged to bring up new ideas or findings in class. If we are expected to become generalists rather than specialists in the future, this seems like a more productive way of educating.
Next, as we also discussed last week, the future of work means today’s jobs are going to look very different. It means my first job, as an auditor, could eventually be eliminated entirely by robots (and I am not alone). It means we are going to have to adapt. As there is no way to predict what it will look like and, consequently, no way to prepare, we must open our minds and accept it. We must become more comfortable with change/newness, which brings me to the unique structure of our class. As we have all noted, the structure of IS6621 is different from pretty much every other class at BC. Assignments consist of free-form blogging, tweeting, and class discussion. For many of us, this complex arrangement was unnerving and intimidating. For some, it meant dropping the class. In the end, however, I think it is safe to say those of us who stayed were rewarded. We learned to adapt and had a great experience as a result. In my opinion, our future in the workforce will follow a similar pattern. If you remain a continual learner, you will be fine, regardless of how your field changes.
Lastly, as we approach the end of our time in school and the beginning of the world of work, it is expected that we have developed our own opinions and learned to voice them. Sometimes, depending on the class, students find it advantageous to align their thinking/writing with that of their professors. Sometimes, they are encouraged to do this through the receipt of a good/bad grade. Unfortunately, this is a detriment to society as the world benefits from diversity of thought (I think most of us would agree). IS6621, on the other hand, affirms this idea, encouraging us to have an opinion, to share it, and to listen to those of our peers. With weekly blogs, tweets, and open class discussions, we were able to talk about things that mattered to us, not just the curriculum. We were forced to hear the ideas of those we might not normally interact with, listening and reacting in a positive manner without necessarily having to agree. Additionally, those who might normally struggle to vocalize their thoughts were given the opportunity to share in a different manner, potentially gaining confidence to do so publically in the future. Overall, I think this format provided a positive model for the real world, opening our minds to unique perspectives and teaching us how to react to them.
In conclusion, I believe IS6621 prepares us for the future and the world outside of education. I would definitely encourage those who have the opportunity to take it (even those who think they might have a Visiobibliophobia)!