Doing the Best You Can with What You Have
This post is an individual reflection assessing this class and its content.
It is safe to say to this course was the most unusual, stressful, and engaging course we have ever had. And although it was challenging and overwhelming at times, it has given us more than I expected it would.
Creating our own site sounded impossible at the beginning of the semester but as the time passed by, I realized that it is not that complicated. The various different categories helped us find exactly what we were looking for in the sea of post, but what really contributed to the easiness of navigation was the overall simplicity of the site. Although there were some tricks to learn, such as formatting the text, or adding links and images, you could’ve still contribute to the site and the community even if you’re not quite skillful at this sort of things. In addition, I assume that the majority of us have never written for a site before, so this was a great way to learn the ropes in case we ever need it.
As for the forum, I think it is a good way to join in discussions with our colleagues (which would otherwise probably be non-existent due to the coronavirus situation). It’s much simpler than the site but just as effective, probably even more because, unlike the assignments on the site, we are more likely to read through every post in a certain forum discussion if we wanted to actually contribute to it, and share new and fresh ideas instead of just repeating what has been said.
The site and the forum work in a perfect symbiosis. On one, we complete our weekly assignments accordingly, and on the other, we get to participate more freely in a numerous discussions on various topics. Also, using the group name instead of us signing our names was a clever way of engaging all the students to contribute because not all of us are comfortable with expressing our opinions openly, so this sense of anonymity helped immensely.
When it comes to the assignments, the length was never predetermined which was not something we are used to because we spent the last three years at this university worrying about the word limit, so this course was very refreshing in that way. Some of the assignments were more interesting than the others, such as Caulfield’s four moves assignment, but there was a perfect balance because we had to use different sets of skills and different approaches in order to finish each assignment. It would’ve been tedious and not particularly stimulating if every single assignment was the same. But none of them were simple. We still had to do a lot of research which sometimes took a lot of time, especially for our group since it consists of only two members. Compiling glossaries wasn’t the most exciting task but it meant that we had to do our reading. However, sometimes that meant not paying as much attention as we should have because we were in a hurry to submit it as soon as possible.
Regarding the course objectives, they were clearly defined and the variety of assignments is what made this more interesting. Before starting this course, I believed that I was pretty familiar with the 21st century skills but it didn’t take long for me to realize that I still have a long way to go before I can actually consider myself equipped to successfully and safely navigate through the online world.
Our reading material consisted of an abundance of useful articles. Most of them were so interesting that I would get so invested in one article that I would start researching the things mentioned in it, and completely disregard the other articles. But sometimes seeing the amount of reading material for a week was overwhelming. Since there are always so many options, people might choose to read some and ignore the others. Or they might feel obligated to read all of them which would take a lot of time and distract them from their other responsibilities and other courses’ assignments. Having such a large selection could be good because you can just those articles that sound interesting to you, but it’s more often the case that you simple don’t know where to start.
The video lectures were a great substitute for the actual lectures, because they weren’t as long so we had more time to focus on finishing our assignments. Although, sometimes they were difficult to follow, they were a great introduction to that week’s topic, and all misunderstandings were cleared up later thanks to the reading material and the fact that we could come back to them during the course of that week and listen to it again in case we missed something.
Regarding my overall course experience, I find that this course has proven useful since there has been more and more talk about the downsides and shortcomings of the Internet. We learned how to protect ourselves online, how to research properly and find reliable sources. The fact that this was mostly a group effort made it easier because we usually had only ourselves to rely on. Overall, a truly different online learning experience that helped us develop skills that will help us in the future, and that we certainly won’t forget once the course has ended. But I do have to add that it was often stressful trying to manage all the different tasks while also doing the assignments for the other courses.
The topics that we covered perfectly portrayed our life with technology today, and even sparked some further discussions that led to us expanding the area of our research. The topic that really got to me was the one on online privacy and overall safety because it opened my eyes to how reckless we actually are when it comes to our online presence, and made me make some big changes regarding that.
Finally, this course required a lot of effort but I think that having a new assignment every week and having to work regularly is what made it easier to stay engaged. However, occasionally, it felt like too much was expected from us and I was under a great deal of pressure while trying to finish the assignments. Most of the topics were so interesting that, at times, doing all the work didn’t feel like a chore but was, in fact, quite pleasant. In addition, they contributed greatly to the development of our 21st century skills since I actually had to do all this work and research instead of simply being presented with information I was expected to memorize.
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