Part 1: My contribution to the learning community this semester
In my week 2 post I said that as a student, I was here to learn, but I also hoped to share some of my learning, too. I wanted to model my participation on Garrison’s model of teaching presence, and be engaged in the learning process, and contribute based on my knowledge and ability. I wanted to demonstrate emerging information professional skills, but still present myself in an honest, authentic way. I wanted to appear friendly and supportive. I said I was bound to be careful with what I posted.
Looking back on my role, my participation, and what I hoped to achieve, I think I was successful. I actively engaged in the learning process, I learned a lot, and shared my learning in my blog posts. I also commented on others’ posts, based on my knowledge, and what I had learned from the content that week.
- Issues with the Connected Learning Analytics (CLA) Toolkit:
I tried very hard to use the CLA Toolkit, to analyse my contribution and find stats on my participation. Ultimately, I found it wasted a lot of my time as I tried to work out how to use it. This was disappointing, because it looks like it could be helpful if it was more user-friendly, and measured what it was supposed to measure. These were the difficulties I had with the CLA Toolkit:
- It was very hard to find my node in the Social networks; it took a lot of time, and there seemed to be no way to search for my node, or mark it so I could find it again the next time I went in. (see Figures 1 and 2 below).
Figure 1: CLA Toolkit – My Social Networks
The red network represents Blog activity, and the black network represents Twitter activity.
Figure 2: CLA – My Social Network node (hard to find)
- I did not understand any of the definitions in the Centrality box that popped up when you clicked on your node in the Social Networks box: what do Betweenness, Eigenvector, In and Out Closeness mean? And what do the values mean – is a big number better?
- The CLA toolkit did not record all of my blog comments. In the end I got my comments count from the Personal Activity tab in my Blog profile . I made 61 comments in total (up to 30/10/2016), with 34 comments on others’ posts, and 27 replies to comments on my posts.
- The toolkit did not detect my Twitter use. CLA Toolkit counted 2 of my tweets, whilst my Twitter archive (which I downloaded to complete this reflection) recorded 139 tweets between July and October, which I think is a pretty good contribution.
My primary motivation to comment was to meet the participation requirement for the subject. Without a participation requirement, I may not have commented as much. I commented more during weeks I was more interested in the topic; e.g. digital exclusion and makerspaces; and when I received a lot of comments on my own post for the week. Receiving comments motivated me to reciprocate and comment on other people’s posts. At times I did not comment as much as I might have done, due to other commitments.
Figure 3: CLA Toolkit – Blog posts and comment frequency by date
I had a general pattern, as I’m sure many people did, of posting my own blog for the week, and then commenting over the next few days. This is particularly noticeable in Figure 3 (above), in which I posted my Digital exclusion post on the 7 September, and had a noticeable spike in comments on 9 and 11 September.
I found it took a lot of time and effort to make quality comments. I did my best to respond thoughtfully, and sometimes included links to other information. Commenting was not an easy process for me, by any means; and this is likely a reflection of my cautious nature, and not wanting to be wrong, as outlined in my Week 2 post.
Part 2: Twitter
At the beginning of the semester, I felt I was coming around to Twitter, and I probably feel the same way now. My main concern was about not knowing how to use it well. I’m still not a “pro-user”, but I am a more effective user than I was at the beginning of the semester. My other concern was around not being able to squeeze a thought into 140 characters, but I found that easier to adapt to than I thought it would be. With Twitter, you’re not putting everything into a post; you’re typically using it for a particular purpose, many times to ask a question, let people know about something, and/or provide a link to more information.
I enjoyed the Twitter chats. They were fast, but it was easy enough to pick up and go with a thread that caught your interest, by replying to the person who made the comment. I think the Twitter chats were good for helping me tune in to important concepts around a topic, and may have triggered my interest in a particular topic to explore further on my own.
I used Twitter a little bit outside Twitter chats, mostly to let people know when I had written a new blog post. It was a bit weird getting “likes” from people outside the course and who I am not associated with on Twitter. It made we wonder whether some people have “bots” to pick up when certain words or phrases are posted; e.g. I got a retweet and a like for my “Speed date with design thinking” post.
Part 3: My learning in the unit
I have many key take-aways from this unit:
- User-centredness is something we will all take away from this unit. This has really been bedded down.
- The digital divide was a powerful issue, highlighting the inequity that exists, and the work that needs to be done to bring everyone into the digital age. I am happy that libraries are able to support digital literacy with the provision of access to the internet, digital technology and digital literacy programs, and help to reduce the effects of the digital divide.
- I learned that there are a lot of amazing, motivated people working in libraries: Jo Beazley shared many amazing programs in her recording!
- I learned that I could take a leadership role in online group work.
I learned best by starting with the readings, and branching off from there to pursue the issues I was interested in. It often took a while to “find my angle” for the week’s blog post. Sometimes a thread in the Twitter chat would stimulate my interest in a particular issue, and off I would go to find out more. Motivation is key – we identified motivation in one of our Twitter chats as a key to engage adults in learning.
I liked that there weren’t that many lectures, and there was a lot of independent learning, with readings and other materials to start us off. I enjoyed the program and service reviews requirement, because we were learning by doing.
- Aspects that didn’t work so well for me
There were many deadlines, so I needed to be really organised to be on top of it all. Also, I found the participation requirement difficult because it took me a long time to compose a thoughtful comment, so it was another thing I needed to sit down and devote time to, when I didn’t necessarily have the time available. I understand that the teaching team were trying to create a Community of Inquiry, to assist our learning, and I did try very hard to participate in it, and get something out of it.
- Assessment items as learning tools
The EOI and grant application were useful, practical assessment items that introduced us to the theory and practice of designing programs and writing funding applications. These are skills we will need in our future jobs as librarians. The blog posts obviously aimed to ensure we were engaging with the content on a weekly basis, and engaging with the community by commenting on posts, so in that respect, they were a useful learning tool.
Part 4: Reflection on the quality of my work
I think I achieved a high quality of work in this unit. My blog posts were generally well-researched and thorough, often starting with the recommended readings for the week, and then branching out to pursue the areas I was interested in. My biggest challenge was trying to stay within the word limit. I could probably improve by being more defined with my focus. I could still improve in my blog mechanics, too – e.g. engaging the reader more with questions to encourage interaction, rather than telling the whole story myself, as I see it.
And that is the whole story, as I see it. 🙂