Intercultural Extraneity

Not exactly what I had in mind

Reflection post

As someone who is not particularly keen on technology, I was quite skeptical when I realised that the entirety of this year’s course would be executed solely through the usage of different online platforms. Namely, I have always taken great pleasure in the traditional approach to teaching. I thoroughly enjoyed attending classes and listening to professors’ lectures, as well as taking notes and later discussing the most interesting aspects of the class with my colleagues. However, I must admit that forever staying in one’s comfort zone is not very conductive to learning new things and challenging one’s abilities. Therefore, the innovative and unusual approach that we were presented with during this course, when it comes to acquiring knowledge, proved to be extremely beneficial when it comes to my digital literacy. The site layout was a bit plain looking but served its purpose. After spending some time researching the site, I was able to use it without much difficulty and confusion. However, the idea of a forum that would almost entirely be run by students and their various interactions was quite foreign to me. However, since the how-tos on the site were quite easy to understand I very quickly realised that I only needed to get used to this novelty as well and that in time everything would fall into place. On the forum, I found the instructions and guidelines fairly simple and easy to understand. I enjoyed the freedom the students were given to express their opinion and communicate with one another.

When it comes to assignments, some of them were very interesting and innovative but some were, in my opinion, quite redundant and unnecessary. However, I had to utilise my writing skills, which was, in hindsight, one of the main goals of this course and this course was very useful in that sense. Nevertheless, I would have preferred to write about something that aligned more with my interests and perhaps with American history, and how America became what it is today.

The video lectures were somewhat helpful as they served to explain the topic for each week. I thought them the perfect length, not too long or short, and very to the point. However, there were times when I failed to see the correlation between the video lectures and the assignments. When I was listening to the video lectures, I felt that the professor was talking a lot more about certain historical aspects of American culture which I really enjoyed. However, when it came to our assignments they were not necessarily related to the video lectures and the historical aspects of American culture, which I would have much preferred. In that aspect, I was quite disappointed because I wanted to learn more about the historical contexts that shaped America into what it is today. Unfortunately, the focus was more on digital history than on actual history, which I did not like.

The course objectives were fixed on digital literacy which I found tiresome at some points during the semester since technology is not something that I am interested in. However, it is clear that the professor wanted to use a more American approach when it comes to teaching and therefore, introduced some new techniques regarding the learning process.

Nevertheless, I must say that I did not feel very inspired during this semester as I had expected to learn both about present day America but also America from the past. Instead the focus was on digital literacy and social media which is something that we have talked about many times and in many different courses.

The reading material was substantial and often interesting. Whether it was interviews with different eminent academics or all sorts of articles, the reading material gave the students many different views on different topics, and therefore served as a tool for forming and embellishing our personal opinions on various topics.

As for the topics, I mentioned before that social media and technology are not topics that are of great interest to me. Nevertheless, that does not mean that I did not learn anything during this semester. I would have preferred if more emphasis had been put on the current state of the American culture such as: rampant consumerism, American pop culture, racism, police brutality, presidential elections etc. I feel the course would have been more interesting had we discussed or even wrote essays about some of these topics as they are certainly apt for discussion, and I am convinced that many students would have been very opinionated on them.

When looking at my overall course experience I must say that I was a bit disheartened this semester. I expected that the emphasis would be on the current state of American culture and the many different factors that had made it so. Instead, the focus was on many abstract subjects that we had to adjust to. I am fully aware that digital literacy is extremely valued in American culture, however, I would have preferred to get to know the core of culture itself and not so much on how to become a part of it by using its methods.

My own engagement with the course could have been better. I did my best to do my part as a member of my group, and of course to meet all the deadlines. However, I am fully aware that I could have been more active on the forum and that I could have initiated more discussions with my other colleagues. However, as I imagined this course quite differently, it was extremely difficult for me to find the willpower to engage more and be more persistent with the posting forum activities. Nevertheless, I did find that this course has pushed me out of my comfort zone which is always a good thing. By: S.K. miths

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