Aleksandra in Wonderland
Overall course experience
I have never considered myself a tech-savvy mastermind. Thus, when the course begun and I got a first look at the site, the sections and the forum gave me an uneasy feeling. Nevertheless, a sprout of hope and enthusiasm started budding with the first real tasks, with the forum it would come later, with various topics being introduced and realization that we could relax and be free to express our opinion on important and thoughtful matters relating to past, present and future of technology and the world. I cannot say that it was not challenging at times. If you wanted to be on top of your assignments, you needed to make sure that you understood the topic, had other sources which you could use, along with the ones given. All this took time, oftentimes more than intended, but at the end, advantages far outweighed the disadvantages and I am patiently and eagerly waiting for the final assignment, and the next semester.
Nevertheless, I still would have liked to have had a few more video conferences, sometimes there were ambiguities despite the weekly videos, written instructions and slides, and this would have cleared them up. Additionally, being informed in due time of the changes taking place would have made the class run much more smoothly. The uncertainties regarding syllabus and the grading system were also stress-inducing, we did not know how it was going to turn out until mid-semester, however the fact that it was made “on the move” due to us contributing our own opinion on it, does level the field.
Addendum: I love lv’s proposal in Gamifying learning :) on introducing visual representation of our grades and geimifying the course and agree that _“levelling up and getting more points is just fun”. It could definitely motivate us in the long run and make the course more immersive.
When it comes to the Site design, the first week, or two, it was confusing navigating it, I was unsure whether I would be able to find everything I needed. This was because I have never encountered a site such as this one, the one where you tend to the garden and where it has brain-like pathways, nor have I had a true experience with working, essentially, behind the scenes of a site – which turned out to be one of my favorite features, coding is fun! Usually, you have everything served on a platter, so it was a bit frustrating, due to not wanting to make a mistake, yet, I cannot say that it was not engrossing. I felt, like I imagine Alice was feeling stepping into Wonderland, cautious and nervous, but ready to explore and go further. Therefore, I do not have any complaints against the layout of the site. Site how-tos and Issues and announcements have been a life-saver a couple of times and Writing resources is also a helpful page. I must say that I like that we have another way for expressing our opinions and asking questions via A spice for dialogue page.
Regarding the concept, I honestly have to say that I am more than impressed, professors do not put this much effort into managing a class and the fact that we are learning through actual, real-life, practice, the skills that are essential for the future, is already proving to be mind-opening and beneficial. Also, colleagues, and working in groups, has certainly helped in making me feel more comfortable with the course.
As for the Forum and its rules, they are definitely a help, I truly believe that this is how academics, and everyone in general, should write. Always adding on to another’s post, addressing each other respectfully, exchanging similar or different views – this is how we learn and advance, by contributing in our own ways. The forum makes me feel like we are creating, and are a part of a community. A Latin saying, which I have already mentioned here, Non nobis solum nati sumus, is an important aspect of this class and it should be nurtured outside of it, as well. BBC code is a phenomenal way of making the forum feel more friendly and ever since I have discovered it, not one single post has gone without experimenting in some way and making it look more engaging and aesthetic.
The Assignments were not as difficult as they took time, possibly much more than anyone would have anticipated, and considering that we had to do glossary, posts and forum weekly, after a while it started to become draining. What I would like to have more in the future, because we did have a lot of fun doing it, is to have similar projects to the first – creating mind maps. It helped me organize my thoughts, creatively approach a task and learn how to use one more app – CryptPad, which is always a bonus. It might create a sense of a break and stir the class up a bit and still have us learn something valuable, too. The Caulfield’s book and Value Sort Cards created the same atmosphere.
Also, maybe groups should be divided and a couple of ones should do glossary one week, while the others should do it the next week. That is to say, every group would do it every other week. It might make Master Glossary Lists more functional and legible, some of the words were repeated too much and different styles made them look chaotic, and it might create more time for the students to focus on other assignments.
Regarding Course objectives, they have been clear from the onset, some of which I have already started putting in practice before this class, such as analyzing information, asking questions, others are a result from it, such as cultivating digital literacy, and the remaining ones I have started exploring before this class, but they have straightened throughout the course of it; improving self-knowledge and self-direction through working with others and gathering and evaluating relevant and credible sources.
The Reading material was of the perfect amount. Even the additional readings were very informative and useful. There were some which I did not have the time to read then, but I have saved them and will read upon as soon as I get the chance. Most of them are from the Week 3: Privacy/Agency and from Week 6: Social networks: communication, collapse, when we had more demanding tasks.
Video lectures were more than helpful, I have saved all of them because they are a source of inspiration and tell the principle of how people should act in a daily life and not just in learning institutions. We need to start exploring our surroundings, bettering ourselves, venerating responsibilities, creating communities outside, and inside, of the internet space, we need to ask how we can prosper, how we can use history to help us in the present and in the future, how we can help each other be better and in that way make the society, technology and the world better. They helped clear some of the doubts with the assignments. The topics were inspiring and I liked whenever a history lesson would be interweaved with the one on digital literacy and today’s world. For instance, a topic on US stance on monopolies and a view on Salem witch trials and how the consequences of “everyone else is doing it” could prove detrimental, and how that could also be observed today in an online and offline setting. I would not change anything regarding the length of the videos because they were practical, attention-holding and fitting.
The Topics were appropriate and effective and I would single out a few which stood out for me. Privacy/agency and how we are not sure if our content is even ours anymore, what is happening to our data and how it is being manipulated against us. Social dilemma; should we delete Facebook and how to proceed after that, what are our other options? The web literacy and how to differentiate facts from click-baits. Oration by Frederick Douglass and a poem by Langston Hughes were also a highlight of this course because I was able to compare and contrast today’s world and values with the past’s and analyze them in this post. I cannot say that I had a least favorite, from every single one I have learnt something. The only criticism is that there was simply too much content at a time and I was not able to further research some topics due to that.
Your own engagement with the course
I surprised myself with how much I was active and wanted to interact with the site and the forum, how I challenged myself to become a better correspondent, do tasks on time, be more organized, take notes and collect them in a place where I could retrieve them later on, create content worth reading and learning something new from, and try and soak up every available information that, I concur, would be even more useful as the time goes by. I tried to find relevant sources and I have even taken up some additional and optional work and would have done even more had I had more time. Lately, I have also been thinking about creating my own digital garden because, having been reading and informing myself on the way internet functions and actively noticing some of the points made in this class, I have realized how internet could be an enormous and beautiful place, full of wonder, and how we are, unfortunately, closing ourselves to it and hiding between the Four Horsemen unnecessarily.
This post may be used for research purposes.