Looking back at UOSM2008

Reflecting on the journey through UOSM2008 will be facilitated through Smyth’s reflection on action (Smyth, 1989). This process, as further refined by Waring M & Evans C (Waring and Evans, 2015), is broken down into four steps: describe, inform, confront and reconstruct.

Given the somewhat unique learning experience this module caters towards, it is fitting to allocate a sufficiently in-depth reflection to isolate the most useful skills developed.

Describe

This module requires a significantly different method of working, through the publication of a weekly blog and subsequent reflection piece of discussions being held on others blogs. Significantly the most useful resources were created in the discussion I had with peers enrolled on UOSM2008, whether on my blog posts responding to comments, discussions on the blog posts of others, or on some occasions, the discussions facilitate through the FutureLearn MOOC (FutureLearn, 2018).

Example discussion on a blog post

The creation of media content often helped refine a point with more finesse than the written word; I created several interactive media items, graphs and voice clips:

(Example question set from previous post)

Although these helped deliver arguments in my posts, they did not particularly aid the discussions that occurred.

A look at some of the posts created through the module

Inform

I entered the module somewhat trepidatiously, having little experience of ‘networked learning’ and somewhat concerned by the lack of traditional lectures. Indeed, to some extent, this was compounded by the uncertainty of how to write a blog post effectively – it can be challenging to find the correct tone and voice.

Despite my concerns, I quickly found my feet when writing the blog posts. The different weekly topics were really interesting, which I think contributed to some of the engaging discussions I was able to take part in. As a result, I would say that many of the comments on the initial blog post were really useful, and this is one of the highlights of the experience throughout the module. When reflecting back to aspects of the module which didn’t go quite as well, my initial reflection post could have gone into more detail on the learning achieved through the post and the discussions. This is something I have attempted to continually improve throughout the module, as a reflection piece in this style is a new way of working for me.

Now I look back at the module as an experience, it was a significant detour from the traditional lecture focused modules I have taken previously. However, this works favourably for my learning; I feel I have much better retention of the topics covered (especially arguments surrounding online identities!) than other content.

Confront

Considering each weekly topic, the primary objective was to create an engaging blog post which communicated my perspective on the issue at hand. From a personal perspective, a blog is made much more interesting through the inclusion of a range of media – so I set out to include a wide variety of media types within each blog post. This was a challenge to find ways to make each post its own, especially as I was under the (perhaps mistaken) assumption that once used for a post it would be folly to use the same media type again a subsequent week.

(Backup Link)

Considering the topics at a deeper level, I found week two – Evaluate how to assess the reliability and authenticity of online information – rather difficult to discuss within the 300-word limitation. Being such a broad topic it required a depth of research that was hard to communicate, and indeed Manuel pointed out in the feedback that I needed to be more concise with my words. Further to this, my strong belief that the most appropriate way to conduct oneself online is through multiple online identities lead to some interesting discussions with Natasha, regarding whether you are less private with multiple identities (Greeff, 2018). Reflecting here, it is apparent that my position as a web science student alongside various preconceptions I have influenced my perspectives on various topics when writing.

Reconstruct

Evaluating my progress through the module, there is tangible evidence on areas which I have improved in. Taking the digital literacies self-evaluation test both before and after the module, I have improved largely thanks to the commitment to a networked approach through the module.

Graph comparing my self evaluation scores from before and then after the module

One significant change as a result of the module is my discovery of online communities – I often use and engage with Reddit.

Infographic of my usage of online communities

A constraint I struggled with, other than the surprisingly challenging 300-word limitation, is the tone. Knowing the most appropriate way to communicate through the blog as a medium, especially without a specified audience, proved a major challenge for me. Generally, I tried to overcome this by adopting less formal language than I would use for academic pieces of work, however, in some cases, I feel this could have been interpreted as being overly casual.

As a result of this module, I am much more confident in my ability to use the web to a deeper level – mostly in engaging with online communities and formation of learning networks. As a direct result of this experience, I aim to continue writing and reflecting on my experiences, a process which has been rather useful for not only consolidating knowledge but ensuring I am confident in my arguments.

(Backup Link)

Conclusion

Learning in the UOSM2008 module has been a unique experience throughout my time in university. I thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to learn in such a different way to what I am accustomed to – however, I do also think that an entire degree based on remote networked learning could be challenging to fully engage with. Despite this, the module is fully engaging and provided several chances for me to develop my digital literacy skills – an overall strongly positive experience.

Word Count: 940

References

FutureLearn (2018). Learning in the Network Age – Online Course. [online] FutureLearn. Available at: https://www.futurelearn.com/courses/learning-network-age [Accessed 15 May 2018].

Greeff, N. (2018). Who are you? – Looking at Online Identities – Tom Rowledge. [online] Tomrowledge.com. Available at: http://tomrowledge.com/2018/04/21/who-are-you-looking-at-online-identities/#comment-35 [Accessed 15 May 2018].

Smyth, J. (1989). Developing and Sustaining Critical Reflection in Teacher Education. Journal of Teacher Education, 40(2), pp.2-9.

Waring, M. and Evans, C. (2015). Understanding Pedagogy: Developing a critical approach to teaching and learning. Abingdon: Routledge.

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