Intercultural Extraneity

Not great, not terrible

If I had to describe this course in one word, it would be “unique”. For better or for worse.

My experience with the course was interesting to say the very least. It was interesting in the sense that each assignment was a challenge in itself, something that I did not often encounter during my time at the faculty, but perhaps it was challenging for the wrong reasons. However, before delving into what I believe to be problems, I’d like to reflect on the positives.

The idea for the course is probably the best idea I’ve seen for a course thus far. Studying digital culture as part of American Culture Studies is probably the most appropriate way to study Digital Culture. American culture is the most dominant factor in our day-to-day life, and Digital Culture, which originates from the USA, even more so. Combining those two into a singular course, however, and having it be fully online is possibly, unintentionally or intentionally, a perfect combination. To learn about American culture and digital culture as a singular course, online, is the best, if not the only way to explore it. That being said, the sheer idea of even attempting to explore a new phenomenon as complex as digital culture, as it is unfolding, during a global pandemic no less, is praiseworthy. Likewise, the subject matter that we delved into every week was quite diverse and at times thought provoking.

As for the issues, the main problem with the course, in my estimation, is the way the course was executed. The idea, as stated previously, is great, but perhaps instead of it being made more simple, it was made even more complex. It was too much, too soon. It didn’t feel organic but rather forced. The site and forum weren’t intuitive enough and were quite contrived, making us jump from the forum, to the textpattern to the site and back again just to wrap our heads around what it is that we are supposed to do. Combined with the somewhat vague and open-ended rules that we were provided with made the experience more difficult than it had to be. We weren’t learning about the subject at hand, rather we were learning how to function within the contrived system, which more often than not made us frustrated to even do the exercises in the first place. We would be excited at the beginning, but our motivation would soon dissipate after hours of trying to figure out what it is that we are supposed to do. It created a cascade of problems that would chip away at our enthusiasm each week, where we ended up just doing it for the sake of doing it. For my group and I, the biggest hurdle was the process of having to talk to the other groups in order to piece together information from them into a rule set that we could effectively use, which sometimes would take us days of trial and error to achieve. All in all, in my eyes, the execution left a lot to be desired.

As far the solutions are concerned, the best course of action, in my opinion, would be to streamline the whole experience. Making the rule set more transparent and reducing the number of sites that we have to use, making the process more user friendly and giving us some breathing room. This would allow us to focus on the subject at hand, rather than on the process itself, so that we could both learn and effectively participate.

In conclusion, I see this entire experience as being very emergent. In the end, it was more about the whole process of formulating than learning, which, to be perfectly honest, has its own merits. Being forced to work in a group, and delegating work was fun at times. Every task was a puzzle, which did cause a lot of frustration, but likewise, probably taught us things that we didn’t even know we had to know. Perhaps in a different scenario than the one we have now, which is the constant worry of being infected or infecting someone in your close vicinity, or even being infected and not even knowing it, this would not be an issue, because we would have our classes in person, making the whole experience much less difficult. I am confident, however, than even with all the hurdles and the problems we faced, everything will, hopefully, in the end, turn out alright.

A.P. 2017/0825 – group: lumpenproleteriat.
This post may be used for research purposes.

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