Intercultural Extraneity

Too virtual?

To start off, this year has been difficult for all of us. Adjusting wasn’t easy for anyone. With classes being forced to switch to online lessons, teachers had to be resourceful and imaginative in order to execute their lessons the best they could. This class was no exception, furthermore it might even be the most unique one I’ve taken so far.
Nevertheless, if I had to use only one word to describe this course, it would be “unexpected”

Heading to a course named American Culture Studies, I expected to learn about important aspects of American culture, such as Hollywood, American Dream, etc… Even a bit of politics. Instead, the syllabus consisted mostly of virtual skills, social media, and overall we were learning discussions instead of cultural facts. While those make for both interesting and useful skills, we covered the previously mentioned subjects in various courses over our time at this faculty, courses much more fitting for learning such subjects. What I expected of this class was something more akin to Introduction to American Culture – each week we learned about a different colony and weekly assignment was to summarize what we learned about colony in question. Not as interesting as wonders of the internet, for sure, but not any less important to learn.

Another aspect of this course I’d like to reflect on is the very medium we use for lessons and assignments. Site, forum and textpattern were nearly impossible to navigate at the start, and are still quite confusing. Perhaps merging it into one better designed site would’ve made it easier to navigate. A video lesson for lecture and giving assignments paired up with a textpattern for completing said assignments would’ve been sufficient.

Speaking of video lessons, while interesting, the issue mentioned above still stands. Not to mention they were sometimes lengthy and hard to follow, and instructions were not always clear. Providing short, clear and detailed, written instructions would’ve cleared up most of the confusion, and briefer video lessons would be easier to follow and pay closer attention to important bits.

Not to mention that lacking the way to monitor our progress throughout the semester caused many students a lot of stress. Finding ourselves worrying about how many posts we made on the site and how many replies on forum were not a rare occasion. A simple table with names of groups/individuals and their weekly progress would’ve solved that issue quite easily. Not to mention a more explicit feedback would’ve been more than welcome.

Finally, I’d like to reflect on the option to choose group work instead of individual this semester. It was easily one of the most positive experiences of this course, considering all the perks of such manner of work. First of all, group mates can rely on each other if something about the course wasn’t clear. Secondly, sharing the workload was incredibly handy considering we all had other assignments outside this course. Last of all, at least we could all be confused together and deal with it as a group. Two heads, or in this case five, are better than one, don’t you agree?

To sum it all up, all the links necessary to follow this course were a bit difficult to navigate; syllabus and materials, while interesting and useful, were quite unexpected; video lectures could’ve been briefer, yet no less compelling; assignments were more often than not confusing, and there was no way to monitor our progress. The idea of our virtual community garden is quite unique and incredibly lovely, yet sometimes a more traditional methods work better.

– K.R. Note: This post may be used for research purposes

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