Intercultural Extraneity
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Buried treasures

This reflection is to give a personal evaluation on the site design, forum, relevance of the assignments and course objectives, as well as whether the video lectures, reading materials and topics have been helpful in facilitating knowledge.

I’d like to begin this reflection paper by saying that it has been a pleasure to work in collaboration with my colleagues and that by doing the tasks we’d been given as a team I’ve learned how important teamwork is and how much more I’ve learned just because I was given the opportunity to partake in this give-and-take relationship that my colleagues and I have established. I understand that this kind of learning is completely unfamiliar to us and that we’ve all tried our best, but I must not turn a blind eye to what I thought would make our virtual garden better. Thus, I would like to comment on my overall experience and would like to propose some suggestions on how to improve our virtual community.

Site design/forum/video lectures

Firstly, I’d like to say a few things about the site design, forum and video lectures. The concept of having our own virtual garden seemed strange to me only because I have never encountered such a thing before, hence I was worried whether I could catch up with such innovations. The site and forum are easy to navigate and the concept of them is well thought of. The categories are orderly and never did we, as a group and as individuals, have trouble finding the information we were looking for despite the fact that the site and forum expanded day by day. It is the design of the site that, in my opinion, needs to change. I believe it looks a bit too monotonous and that we could, since we already refer to it as our virtual garden, design it in such a way that it resembles a real garden by adding some colours. A colourful design would bring the site to life and would, perhaps, facilitate learning in a sense that it would inspire students to dig deeper for the buried treasures their colleagues left in their cultivation and harvesting of knowledge. Speaking of buried treasures, I’d also like to note that video lectures have been very helpful because they cleared the way for us students. They helped us understand our tasks and guided us in the right direction. The forum I found especially helpful since it gave us a unique opportunity to discuss our ideas and all the things that we learned. It allowed us to share our thoughts and opinions and to comment on each others observations, the rules being a clever tool that helped us articulate our ideas in an elaborate manner. What I would like to add to our forum are emojis, gifs and other means of communication that would make our discussions more colourful and interesting because the forum was made, in the first place, as a place where we can talk freely on various subjects and it would make our communicating more homely. In fact, perhaps we could have talked about how gifs and emojis have become means of communication in the contemporary society.

Assignments/the course objectives/topics/overall course experience

Secondly, I’d like to share my opinion on the assignments, the course objectives, topics and my overall course experience. Notwithstanding the fact that the assignments were very intriguing, I did find some difficulties coping with some of them simply because they weren’t my topics of interest. However, even those kind of assignments did teach me something, therefore I cannot say that they were redundant, because I am more experienced and knowledgeable thanks to them. This also has to do with the fact that I wasn’t quite skillful in the beginning, but the exploration itself, the selection of the reading materials (both optional and mandatory) and the messages they conveyed helped me understand how the 21st century functions and how it is fraught with many dangers that I was completely oblivious of. I’m especially referring to privacy/agency, social dilemma, communications collapse, bias&media literacy topics since I’ve learned the most from them. The overall experience that I gained will help me deal with modern technology and be wary about what I share, where I share it and with whom I share regarding personal information. The course objectives were lengthy enough and explained in a good manner, but what I adored about them is the variety we’ve got at our disposal in our syllabus. We weren’t assigned only one topic and given one source, but we’ve got a chance to explore and to pick our own exploration sources. However, I do believe that we should introduce new topics as well, topics closely related to cultural functions of art, such as historical memories. We could broaden our horizons and relate the newly acquired knowledge with the knowledge that we’ve gained during the previous years. My favourite topic so far was the privacy/agency even though I found it quite challenging. Broaching the topics that people usually avoid discussing – topics such as surveillance capitalism – and arriving at conclusions, discussing them and finding solutions to them has been daring. I also felt a huge responsibility to raise awareness and shed light on some really disturbing occurances that are so obvious, like being constantly watched and/or listened to, the occurances many people don’t feel comfortable bringing up but should because of how relevant they are and how much our lives are affected by them. On the other hand, the topic that I found taxing was the content/context one, simply because I felt that it doesn’t affect me in a sense that I know how to filter my own interests and I do it in such a way that content/context collapse is at a bare minimum. Although I learned quite a lot by reading the materials, listening to the lecture and observing the presentation I don’t think I would be able to write much about the topic had I not been guided by the abovementioned tools. However, I do believe that the topic was necessary and that it is a necessary tool for learning and teaching because we, as people, must not let content/context collapse affect us as humans, making us less emphatetic and ignorant of the world that surrounds us.

Reading materials, master glossary and my own engagement with the course

Lastly, I would like to say that the reading materials, the level they are aimed at (which is high) and the selection as well as the collaborative learning were very engaging and they helped me grow as a person and I regret not doing even more for our virtual garden. The topics that were selected for us and the way in which they were presented, the level of knowledge and self-awareness they required taught me a lot. They taught me not only how to manage my social media but they also opened my eyes to the possible problems that may occur in the future and gave me a hint on how to deal with them. I also learned a great deal of new vocabulary that will be useful in my future projects and the fact that we have the master glossary will help me in my future research (on the matter of internet safety, surveillance capitalism etc.) that I will hopefully have the time to conduct. Sadly, I do feel like I needed more time for exploring the topics since I find them extremely important for today’s world and I feel that I would have done much more had I had the time to sit for days and talk about many aspects about given topics as it was possible. Not only for the topics that I found most interesting, which were privacy/agency and communication collapse, but also for the topics that demanded more focus and more mental engagement (such as bias& media literacies and 21st century skills). I also wish that the give-and-take relationship which was established between my colleagues and I could have flourished even more because it would have helped us all grow and become better people.

To conclude, notwithstanding the fact that this way of learning requires more self-reflection and responsibility it is also stimunating and gives us more freedom to explore. I believe that by focusing on the overall improvement of the site and by introducing a greater variety of topics this virtual garden of ours can become a truly inspirational learning ground.
This post may be used for research purposes.

by S.B

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