As a 5th year student, I have taken many courses at the University of Ottawa and written a lot of literature reviews, academic papers, midterms, exams, and even lab reports. An informal blog post was not something particularly familiar for me, so I did what any person in my situation would do and went to some popular blogs like Thought Catalog, Thug Kitchen, and Nomadic Matt for some inspiration. What I found was a lot of posts titled ‘Things like Top 10 *insert subject*’, Things Every Twenty-Something Does, 30 Things You Learn When You Turn 30, etc. So without further ado, here are the 6 Things I Learned From Pierre Levy:
- The Internet is powerful, and gives power to its users. It gives a huge voice to the average human who wouldn’t otherwise be heard by such a huge audience.
- Never judge a book by its cover. And no, it did not take me 22 years of life to learn this anecdote, but I learned that it applies to more than just what I initially thought. Literally EVERYTHING is more than one dimensional. What you first see is not all that exists. Every word, sentence, message, action, behaviour is more complex than it seems.
- Some sources are more trustworthy than others. Trustworthy platforms can also host unreputable sources. Because the internet is so accessible and easy for anyone to share information, anyone can say anything, so it is more important than ever to do your own research into where your information is coming from.
This goes to show that the platform where you find your information matters. Just because the source is good, the platform it's on could tarnish that reputation. You don't know who is behind the information you read. Yeah, it could really be a person with a Ph.D, but it could also just be a cat. You don't know.
- The content of a message and how it is understood is dependent on the sender and the receiver. Messages can take on entirely different meanings in different contexts. You have to consider the literal meaning, the meaning intended by the sender, and the meaning interpreted from the receiver.
- Sometimes, more is communicated when there are no words. Just like the age old anecdotes “actions speak louder than words” and “a picture is worth a thousand words”, you can say a lot when you don’t say anything at all.
- Human communication isn't meant to be linear, which suggests that most University professors have missed the mark. Lectures are not engaging, discussion is.
Fun fact: I took this course (CMN3109) last year. I made it through 3 months of the semester before I realized that even if I got 100% on the final, I would not pass the course. I had read the entire textbook from cover to cover in preparation for a midterm. None of it felt familiar because I had just sat through the lectures listening, but not really listening.
Fastforward 8 months later to now and I'm almost finished the same exact course, but it was a completely different experience. Different material that was actually new to me rather than just repetition of stuff I had learned in first year, different teaching style, different style of assignments, and dramatically better marks. The difference? There was an open dialogue. Yes, the content was delivered in the form of a lecture, but there was a way to discuss it with peers and ask questions right then and there. This made all the difference.
So now, 4.5 years later and about to graduate, I've finally learned that maybe University isn't the only way to learn, at least not the way most Professors teach.