As the semester started I was bright-eyed and eager to start the last stretch of my postgraduate expedition. Having read through the brief outline of this unit, I was looking forward to a seemingly interactive unit, but I wasn’t completely clear of what was in store. Now that the curtains are closing and we are at the end of the semester, I’m pleased to say that the experience has been a positive and enjoyable one. We’ve covered and achieved many milestones this semester, here’s a snippet of my personal journey.
II The Beginnings
In the first week, we were eased into the realm of emerging technologies and examined the 2016 technological predictions forecasted by the consulting giant, Gartner. As I read through the list, I remember feeling a mix of emotions. Some statements I thought were farfetched while others I was keen to see come into fruition. But most of my opinions were raw feelings and not backed with an understanding of the details. In hindsight and re-reading through the same list of predictions, I feel better equipped to add breadth to my considerations.
Further into the class, we were given details of what to expect throughout the semester and the overall unit structure, I felt excited as we discovered the range of media we would be exposed to. This proved to be one of the highlights of the semester. I appreciated the freedom we were given in choosing the play activities and the way to present our work. This arrangement encouraged us to take ownership over our learnings and intrinsically motivated me to complete the exercises.
III The Setting
The learning environment wasn’t the average classroom. The diversity of resources catered to different learning-styles and kept me intrigued. The videos caught my attention and the readings provided detail and meaning. The fortnightly readings, activities, reflections and deadlines were stressful at first but after I settled in, the work load was manageable and the extra hours I spent on the activities were (mostly) voluntary.
This helps a huge problem I see myself and other students struggling with. As a university student, I often get stuck in a cycle of learn, memorize, assess and forget. The interactive structure of this unit has helped me retain more information than the traditional top-down teaching. Through actively participating and keeping an online trail of thought provoking discussions and reflections, I’ve gained confidence in practically applying my newly acquired skills – which I will feed into tackling future practical problems.
IV The First Obstacle
While there’s the good, there’s also always the not so good. For me, this was commenting on a regular basis. Personally, exposing my opinions in a public space has a vulnerable process and it’s been a hurdle to overcome my unease. Nevertheless, it has proved rewarding in a number of ways. Though I haven’t come to wholeheartedly enjoy it, it’s created a supportive learning network and extended learning outside the classroom over the semester.
As George Siemens highlighted in the article “Connectivism: A Learning Theory for the Digital Age”, how information development has been growing exponentially as opposed to pre-computer ages. The half-life of knowledge is shrinking and we need new learning theories to reflect the changes of the digital age.
V The Struggles and Growth
Looking back, my first blog post looks as lost as I felt. I was unfamiliar with WordPress and spent hours fiddling with the dashboard before I made a start. When I eventually created a new post, I was then stuck in a constant loop of typing and deleting. I finally resorted to blankly staring at the screen. I had not the slightest clue of how to write a blog.
What is the structure for a blog? What vocabulary am I to use? What tone do I take? What are the rules? I had questions after questions...
In the end I wacked together a dot point list; it seemed to be the most organized way to structure my thoughts. I added a couple images and called it a night.
Blogging didn’t come second nature to me and it hasn’t been easy. With a non-English speaking background, I’ve been entrained since grade one to the formula of an essay. It was a struggle for me to come to grips with something that was not an academic essay nor senseless jibber jabber, but rather something in between.
Without this opportunity to look back to the beginning, I wouldn’t have realized I’ve gotten better at it. Week by week, I discovered different functionalities to enhance my posts and better methods to convey my thoughts, in my own way.
My blog has become my online learning notebook.
I can sketch, brainstorm, include photos and upload notes for later reference and update on the run. Behold the mobile movement! My work and reflections can be categorized, shared and found by others, opening the door to discussions and conversations. The 2016 cohort has been incredibly supportive and it’s been a positive platform to access different opinions and branch out to further learnings.
VI The Highs
I enjoyed the Week 4 topic ‘Technology – It’s everywhere!’ the most. In particular, I find the technologies that have emerged from the concept of ubiquitous computing fascinating.
I felt compelled to share my excitement in my blog post “Ubiquitous computing: The answer to my love hate relationship?”. I explained that it wasn’t the first time I had come across the concept, but I previously hadn’t given it much attention.
My misconception of ubiquitous computing was stuck on a belief of it being a tech giant’s gimmicky attempt to stick computers unnecessarily into everything. But as I read through Mark Weiser’s article “The Computer for the 21st Century,” I realised how mistaken I was.
With the coming of the technological age, he observes humans having been forced to enter the computer world. This resounded deeply in my own experiences. Having started a degree in IT, I have never used computers ever more. I recognize technology as being integral to our modern day lives but it frustrates me to be confined to the same screen, same chair, same desk for access.
His vision of helping us to re-engage with the world by dissolving technology into the background crosses the physical boundaries of technology as we understand them. I’m eager to see ideas like The Glass Age materialize.
VII The Lows
I struggled the most through the Week 8 activities on the “Big Brother” topic. I felt myself being pulled in different directions on the issues described in the “Four Ethical Issues of the Information Age”. It also brought about one of the longest debates I had with a friend as we discussed Richard O. Mason’s theories of privacy, accuracy, property and accessibility. I found it hard to settle with any school of thought or opinion and was tugged between opposing debates of “if you can’t play nice it’s confiscated, too bad” and “everyone deserves fair play.”
But like I wrote at the end of my “Keep Calm and Let the Games Begin” post on controversial topics, in order for great ideas to bud and flourish, there needs to be discussion, disagreement and debate.
Controversy at its finest and debate in its glory
Only one thing is certain, they are all questions that as Information Professionals, we need to keep in mind as we advance further into unfamiliar domain.
VIII The Resolution
Overall the semester has helped me grow and develop as an eInvestigator. I’ve gained more appreciation of the concepts surrounding emergent technologies and feel better equipped to advance through my IT career. Reflecting back I would’ve spent more time collaborating with my peers and challenged myself further outside of my comfort zone.
My interest in creative design has aided me in presenting my assessment pieces effectively, but I believe my content and writing style require improvement. Moving forward, I’d like to develop my skills in consistently producing compelling and engaging content. In some weeks, I exhausted my time deliberating on concepts and got cornered by the deadlines. In such cases, I wasn’t able to work through crafting processes to shape and improve my posts.