Here we are! We’ve reached the end of this journey, and we all learned great things. It is time for me to reflect on my experience and think about the future. I decided to use Gibbs’ reflective cycle (Gibbs, 1988) to illustrate my progress through this module, in order to clearly go through what I did and what I was feeling during the semester.
As part of The UOSM2008 Living and Working on the Web module, we each created a blog as a platform for our research, ideas and discussions. For every topic, we had to write a main post showcasing and analysing the theme, comment on other people’s posts, and reflect on our newfound knowledge at the very end.
Of course, besides the basic tasks, there were also some unspoken rules to follow. The blog should invite you in, have well-structured interactive or informative content and open up a conversation that the readers would be able to continue. It should also represent the writer and link to social media, which would open other channels of communication.
The topics of discussion were centered around three major themes, each of them representing a great part of what is currently happening in the Internet world today, as summarised below.
What was I thinking and feeling?
When I started writing, I was self-aware that it might not be good from the beginning. Because my background is in Computer Science, the introductory topic allowed me to test my performance in completing such a unique set of tasks and I was able to perform much better in future posts.
The module stressed the importance of an appealing and detail-oriented online presence, and at the very beginning, I was lacking. One humorous example is how my introductory blog post was anonymously compared with another entry, with mine being given as a more boring example. This made me more ambitious, so I started experimenting with interesting titles and visually pleasing material.
I, therefore, reinvented myself, which involved becoming a true citizen of the Internet, with a well-defined identity and contribution. I joined Twitter and started broadcasting my updates to #uosm2008. This change was most evident in my writing confidence, as I felt much more heard and established as a blogger in my new community.
The following are a few examples of how my online presence changed and how I tried to facilitate the communication with others on my blog homepage.
What was good or bad about the experience?
There were countless positives to my experience in the module. Firstly, I had the opportunity to explore such interesting and current issues, which I knew some things about, but in not any more than surface-level detail. I ended up enjoying the topics so much, that I even started telling my friends and family about my research, further sparking discussion. Secondly, my writing skills definitely improved and I was able to become a real blogger for the duration of the semester. Finally, I joined and completed my first MOOC on FutureLearn.
On the other hand, I found myself stressing about other deadlines and not being able to obtain the right amount of inspiration every time. Keeping and updating a blog is a creative activity, which was many times inhibited by my other technical assignments.
What went well? What went wrong? How did I contribute?
The contribution of everyone in the course helped me expand my perspective. Reading comments and other posts inspired me to extend my knowledge for my reflection in every topic. Furthermore, I was very proud of some of the comments I left on other people’s posts, as many times I was able to provide either information I knew from before starting the course, or information personal to me (e.g. from my home country). For example, during the digital differences topic, I was able to leave a comment (seen in the slideshow below) on how my home country brought fibre Internet to a village with no electricity.
My contributions were well-received by my peers, having discussions with a few of them on every topic. While I tried to keep my content neutral and informative, I enjoyed adding small doodles or cartoons I found online to make my conclusions lighthearted.
The introductory topic on digital residents vs visitors was definitely difficult and now, looking back, I could’ve done so much more. But by the start of the first topic, I obtained a lot more ideas about how I could express my ideas better and create more thoughtful content. A big contribution to that were the infographic creation websites Canva and Piktochart, as well as various materials found in newspaper articles.
Below, you can find a collection of all the 9 comments I left on other people’s blogs.
What might I have done differently?
While my experience was very positive, there is one thing I believe I could have done better, after looking at my stats and browsing my blog. Overall, I feel like the discussions that I participated in could have been longer, or at least more diverse. Most times, I completely agreed with my peers about certain topics, and the threads did not go any deeper than the proposed ideas of the initial comments. In other cases, unfortunately, some comments of mine received no replies, so not much could have been done there.
What would I do next time?
If I were to start again, with the knowledge I have now, I would be able to more swiftly make my way through the concepts and concentrate them into my desired content. I feel much more prepared for such writing tasks, so much that I used some of my newfound skills in completing my third year individual project report. Finally, regarding the knowledge I obtained while researching the module topics, I will definitely be able to apply all of it, such as protecting myself from identity theft or fake news.
Word count: 968 words
Gibbs, G. (1988). Learning by doing: A guide to teaching and learning methods. Oxford: Further Education Unit, Oxford Polytechnic.