Sadly, this blog post marks the end of the #UOSM2008 module and the start of exams at university, but afterwards, I now have no intention of stopping blogging for reasons explained further. For this reflection of the module, I decided to use the suggested Smyth’s (1998) strategy for reflection, as this has been used to reflect on and improve professional development in teaching and learning before (Pinder and Turnbull, 2003) and this module was designed to improve participants’ development online and I thought this strategy would be best to evaluate self-learning. Many topics discussed in the module involve oppression and power (digital residents Vs. immigrants, identity, digital differences etc.) and Smyth’s (1998) strategy challenges the writer’s own assumptions, values and beliefs (Benade 2015).
Fortnightly written blog posts, each around 300 words, covered 4 set topics. A small suggested reading list required me to carry out more research than other modules to answer the question. Other people spent time producing podcast audio clips or Prezzi presentations with narrations, but I didn’t feel confident enough to record myself in such ways. I don’t think that the level or engagement of discussion increased as the module progressed, but the level of creativity in mine and others’ blog posts did.
Although this module was a compulsory module for my course, I was excited to try out this new learning method and on something that I am excited about – the Web. To start with, I was feeling great as it meant there were no 9ams to go to, but apprehensive because of the limited direction given to us from lecturers.
At the start of the course, I completed a self-test to analyse my strengths and weaknesses while using the Web. I also completed this at the end. As you can see, the largest improvement has been in curating communities about an interest online, and this is down to this module. I have now also joined a few MeetUp groups regarding what I’m interested in and joined Slack channels.
With regards to the learning method, the 1–1 interactions were good on Twitter with the lecturer and the fact they were publicly available to everyone meant one question could help the whole cohort, but this could also be done within Blackboard using announcements and these are ‘push notifications’. The ability to see other’s work meant there was also a competitive push to do well and better yourself. The speed at which feedback was given was also great, but unhelpful in one case: it felt as if the number of words in given comments were greater than the 300-word limit for a blog post.
The increasing quality of some work forced me to create better graphics as the module progressed. This was partly due to marker’s comments too – especially in the introduction week. I don’t feel as any new Web issues were raised for me, but discussion with others led to an ‘Likert scale’ style ordering of importance of these issues. There was also curiosity to see how someone else reflected on their comments and blog post.
In each topic, I was trying to create engaging and thought-inducing content. My previous understanding of Web Science impacted upon where I began. Over the course of the posts, an underlying, but not surprising, theme emerged – Capitalism. For each topic, Capitalism has benefited us online, whether that’s improved broadband speeds or more available technology towards our digital differences, blogging skills for business (PR) or having a professional identity to improve employment opportunities to get a better job to earn more money. To some extent the sharing of fake news could also hinder democracy and Capitalism. Contrary, in COMP3220 Web Infrastructure, we discussed how the corporatisation of the internet was a negative thing affecting net neutrality.
The first topic, digital residency, was the topic I struggled with the most and it was only until the marker’s comments did I realise that digital residency was now accepted a spectrum rather than binary, even though Adrian introduced this to me.
My own assumptions and previous knowledge shaped where I approached each topic from. Studying Web Science and Nic’s initial remarks gave me a good base to start from. Others commenting on my blog post alerted me to other approaches. For instance, Shreya alerted me to location affecting digital differences and this wouldn’t have been something I thought about without networked learning. I went on to look at the variation in broadband speeds, just in Southampton. Valuing comments more would prevent slip-ups, like missing aforementioned Adrian’s comment.
My own digital literacy and language literacy prevented me from creating compelling arguments. Time factors and other commitments also played a part towards this. For instance, I decided not to create videos because of my lack of skills with programs like Adobe After Effects and the time that it takes to create content like this. I have now got to grips with Adobe After effects in producing the video (below) and Adobe Illustrator for some of the graphics.
To improve, I could smarten up my WordPress blog – perhaps get a new theme or add social media accounts to it. Nic’s emphasis on creativity within blog posts and WordPress customisation certainly impacted me over the course, and I improved graphics on my freelance blog site too.
In the future, I would like to continue creating videos and uploading them to social media because although they take a long time to make, they have the highest engagement rate online especially for online learning (Bonafini et al., 2017), and certainly blogging helps employment prospects. With regards to Networked Learning, we’ve recommended this approach to another lecturer in Southampton Business School who is experiencing low attendance in lectures.
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- Benade, L. (2015). Teachers’ Critical Reflective Practice in the Context of Twenty-first Century Learning. Open Review of Educational Research, 2(1), pp.42-54.
- Bonafini, F., Chae, C., Park, E. and Jablokow, K. (2017). How Much Does Student Engagement with Videos and Forums in a MOOC Affect Their Achievement?. Online Learning, 21(4).
- Pinder, H. and Turnbull, M. (2003). Teacher professional development: a portfolio approach. Paper presented at the British Educational Research Association Annual Conference, Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh.
- Smyth, J. (1989). Developing and sustaining critical reflection in teacher education. Journal of Teacher Education, 40(2), 2-9.