For this blog, I will employ Gibbs’ (1988) reflective cycle to systematically review my experience.
Previously, I had never really been an avid user of digital sites. Although I owned an iPhone, I shied away from using anything aside from the basic functionalities. I justified my limited use of social media sites by creating a metaphorical safety bubble, where I was free from vilification and judgement. However, it is hard to deny that I would have missed out from social and extracurricular events through my lack of online presence. Furthermore, I was aware that sites such as LinkedIn provided such a great opportunity to network and could even elicit job opportunities. However, i lacked the digital confidence to curate an account worthy of attracting interest. So, In February 2018, I embarked upon a journey to learn and improve upon my digital literacies. I enrolled on UOSM 2008, an interdisciplinary module at the University of Southampton.
Thoughts and Feelings
Taking an online module was a new experience for me, but a challenge I firmly accepted. I am very self-aware. Therefore, I could have honestly said that my digital skills were sub-par (as my self-test implied). This was reflected in the introductory topic, whereby I concluded that my traits align with that of a digital visitor, despite growing up in a digital era.
Below is my self-test from the beginning of the module.
Evaluation of experience
Whilst learning about my own digital skills, I had become more knowledgeable concerning digital related concepts. In topic 2, I learned about the rise of fake news and the destructive consequences it can have, particularly during government elections. Prior to the onset of the course, I may have naively shared news to friendship groups without checking the reliability of the information. Although there are sites dedicated to producing satirical fake news (such as ‘The Onion’), the sight of fake news is a cause for concern, that I gladly communicated to my respective friendship circles. Therefore, I was committed to ensuring that my increased usage didn’t inadvertently cause increased spread of Fake news.
The experience of UOSM 2008 was pleasant for many reasons. After nearly three years at university studying psychology, the module’s content and structure was refreshing. In particular, the reflection process afforded me the opportunity to review each topic blog and assess my content in the wider context. Furthermore, a fortnightly blog-reflection cycle ensured that I was engaged throughout the entirety of the semester
Analysis of experience
However, a journey of progression usually involves difficulty and mine was no exception! Initially, i struggled to self-create material to add value to my topic blogs. With very limited digital competence, i battled with ‘Piktochart’ to create well-organised infographics. Also, i experienced great difficulty exporting videos from ‘Powtoon’. However, I overcame these difficulties by immersing myself into tutorials on Youtube.
Considering my initial frustration, I was very excited to see my knowledge of these tools develop to enable the insertion of meaningful visual elements to my weekly blogs. I had just started to experiment when these skills were already being put to the test. In March 2018, I endeavoured to create a draft video for the Enactus Southampton presentation team. I went from creating a video in over 4 hours to creating one in just under an hour. So, it’s clear to say progress was made in that respect!
Below Is a video that I created to explain the ‘sole-swapping initiative’, used by one of Enactus Southampton’s projects.
Prior to UOSM 2008, the only social media platform I actively used was Facebook. However, this profile was virtually anonymous and was used solely to participate in university assignment discussions . Although I had my name shown, there were no pictures or posts. Prior to the course I had pre-conceived views that made me feel uncomfortable about ‘random’ people perusing my profile. However, I’ve learnt that as long as you practice safe usage, social media isn’t as sinister as first feared. However, this only applies for those that don’t show blatant disregard for others, such as Justine Sacco. Therefore, I will certainly be careful with the content of future posts. Although I only have one Facebook account, I have chosen to present myself in a relatively professional way (for now at least!).
Below is a graphical comparison of self-test’s from the start and end of the module.
Whilst I believe each of my topic and reflection posts were thought provoking, i may have navigated through the module more effectively. One area there was room for improvement relates to comments and discussions with peers. In hindsight, extended discourse with colleagues may have elevated my understanding of concepts and provided connections to enable growth in areas such as ‘ building online networks around an area of interest’ on the self-test.
Action plan and future goals
In future encounters with a similar module or experience, I will be sure to avoid underestimating my capability to excel, irrespective of familiarity. Nevertheless, my experience in UOSM 2008 has spurred me on to become an active member within online communities such as ‘Bodybuilding.com’, where I participate in discussions. Although this is the last blog of the UOSM 2008 module, this is just the start of my blogging journey. I strive to continually improve my clarity of writing, blogging and visual media skills to start a fitness inspired blog that will encompass my experience with workouts and nutrition.
Word count: 893
Gibbs, G. (1988). Learning by doing: A guide to teaching and learning methods. Oxford: Further Education Unit, Oxford Polytechnic.