Intercultural Extraneity
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Virtual environment and digital literacy- acquiring 21st century skills

It is safe to say that this class is unlike any other that we have come across in our 4 years of university. When we first started the semester, this subject looked like it was going to be unmanageable since it involved so many new elements that we didn᾽t encounter before in our academic career. However, it turned out to be extremely important because it has given us a variety of new learning techniques and invaluable research skills.
The site was, at first, foreign and unknown to us and that is why it took a while to get the hang of it, but it has actually proven to be very easily accessible and it had all the information we needed for the tasks that we were required to do. The site itself is, as a matter of fact, very simple because it is divided into different categories, so we had no problems figuring out how to find the information we were looking for.
The thing that I was most skeptical about was the forum and how we were going to incorporate it into our weekly assignments. However, the forum turned out to be the source to an abundance of interesting topics and engaging conversations and discussions. The idea of discussing our tasks and different opinions with each other online was unfamiliar at first, but I think that we got used to this collaborative and interactive learning. Nonetheless, at times, it was difficult not to focus solely on our weekly assignments and disregard the forum as a whole. Since we would often be so concentrated on doing our tasks on time, we would find ourselves too preoccupied with other obligations and not able to post on the forum as much as we would like. That is why I think that the workload is slightly excessive, since we had to rush in order to do the assignments sometimes, and for that reason, not all of them were as good as we would want them to. What is challenging is that we have to be consistent and active every week and to participate in all the assignments, but that is exactly why we stayed focused and managed to do everything that was expected of us. If we didn᾽t dedicate ourselves to accomplishing our weekly tasks, we would be swamped with work at the end of the semester so this way was much more productive and advantageous. The group work helped with this problem immensely. Even though I᾽m in a group with just one more person, the fact that we got to collaborate with one another, discuss our assignments and posts together and, at times, divide our responsibilities has been helpful.
Some of the tasks I found most refreshing were, for example, the assignment from last week which required us to look at a certain meme from another perspective and actually think about the meaning behind it. Another one was when we had to research the reliability of the sources we were given and explore the topics on our own in order to find out the truth. However, some of the tasks took a considerable amount of time and taking into account our overall workload for this year, it was at times overwhelming to do everything that was required of us on time. So even though most of the assignments were really intriguing, the difficulty was that we were so overwhelmed with trying to respect all of our deadlines while also tending to our responsibilities for other classes.
The course objectives were clearly stated and the expectations were pretty straightforward. I believe that the classes we usually attend do little to nothing to prepare us for functioning in the modern age and the expectations that come with it. We will all be required to know how to function online, how to be resourceful and able to make our way through different virtual communities. This is why this class offers a perspective that we᾽ve never been offered before and why it᾽s so valuable for us students.
As regards the reading material, I don᾽t think that any of us are able to really dedicate the time it takes to go through all of the additional reading that we have at our disposal, but we can manage to go through some of the materials which is very helpful when we want to get deeper into the subject that we are exploring that week.
In regard to the video lectures, I find them very useful as an introduction to the subject matter of the week. The videos are beneficial for us because they are concise and we can get familiar with the topics and the overall gist of the topic of the week.
I have to say that I thought this course was going to be the most difficult one because of the unfamiliarity it comes with. Using the site, the forum, not having any in-person interaction with the teacher, as well as trying to accomplish everything and in the right time frame had, at the start, seemed impossible. However, as we are approaching the end of this semester, I have to say that this class overcame my expectations. I actually do believe that now I possess more skills to deal with the virtual space and to collaborate with others. Working together with other classmates, sharing our ideas and concepts has really benefited the overall value of the course and having insight into others᾽ minds is something that is invaluable to us because it expands our own knowledge and perspective.
The numerous topics that we have come across have mostly been interesting and engaging. One of the topics that I found the most astonishing has been the topic of online security and if we are actually safe in the online world as much as we think. It opened my eyes even more to the extent that we are being tracked in everything we do, and I think that by investigating this topic, we learned some ways to be more safe in the online world.
Finally, this class has been challenging as well as rewarding. Collaborating with my group as well as other students on the forum, exploring different sources, using the internet for research and getting accustomed to working in an online environment have proven to be quite engaging and I believe it will help us enormously in the future. As for myself individually, I spent a great amount of time trying to come up with creative ways to approach the assignments every week and researching the given topics in order to do the tasks as well as they could be done. Sometimes I would find myself overburdened with the assignments which affected my overall performance of the week, but I believe that I have gotten better at managing my time and completing everything that is needed. All in all, this course has been much more refreshing compared to the usual learning experiences, and the skill which we acquired because of it will undoubtedly help us in the future.

Lj. M.

-This post may be used for research purposes.

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