Archive for the ‘2018 Class summaries’ Category

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Class 4: Project briefing

October 18, 2018

John started class by reminding everyone who hasn’t already done so to send in a link to their blogs. To date there are ten blogs outstanding. You are reminded to read the module website page about assessment and note that your blogs will be assessed after this week, again after week 8 and, finally, at the end of the module. It is important also that you read and understand the criteria for assessment.

There was some discussion about the elevator pitch and questions about how to go about it. Some of you were unclear about just what was expected so John explained that this was simply an exercise to give you the opportunity to have your avatar stand up and make a presentation – just to give the experience. He suggested you could talk about your choice of avatar costume, your interests and skills or anything that you feel like. LouHug, bennagle, Whimseyy and PeterKeane all got the task over with – others will be called on at random over the next few classes!

Most of you had read the Group Project brief so John started the discussion by reviewing the assessment criteria. The importance of ensuring you know exactly what you are being assessed on can’t be overstated. There is no point in working really hard on something that yields no benefit so, read (and regularly re-read) the assessment criteria for the Group Project given on the Module Assessment page. John recommends reviewing the criteria at least once a week and after each group meeting.

We considered precisely what was expected under each criterion noting that the actual content of the project is only one of the six criteria. John also emphasised that the main learning from this project is about team dynamics and group work. You should expect to run into difficulties when working together: some individuals will work hard and contribute while others may not; some will never turn up to meetings; others will go off on tangents and produce work that is not relevant. DON’T WORRY. That is a very common experience in group and team work. It is exacerbated when you are working online. The point of this project is to allow you experience it in a safe environment. Your task is to observe this behaviour, reflect on it and offer a critical response informed by your understanding of how group dynamics and the roles to be played by team members. Your mark will be based on your own work and is not dependent on your team mates’ contributions.

The content of the project was selected to give you an opportunity to consider your role in contributing to society as you emerge as educated professionals. Despite the pressure to earn a living and compete you need to consider your wider responsibility to the global community of this planet as a citizen. We have been warned that we are exhausting our resources and will be faced with the consequences in the coming decades. It is your generation that must start the search for a new way of engaging with one another and our home planet. The references given in the brief offer some starting points for your consideration.

Bernard Stiegler

French philosopher Bernard Stiegler, whose writing is referenced in the project brief, is currently in Dublin for the DIT GradCam hosted Inter-Nation – European Art Research Network conference in the Wood Quay Venue.

Most of you have met, or at least attempted to meet, in your groups since last week and some teams have set up Facebook groups for communicating. For the next class you are to meet in your teams to talk about the project and how you might approach it. Remember, you are still at the ‘Forming’ stage of your team – getting to know each other and learning how to work together. You should begin the ‘Storming’ stage by starting to brainstorm ideas for the project. Don’t worry about deciding on any one idea this week – just talk about a range of interesting approaches you could take.

You should continue to meet regularly to work on the project and your blog-writing should reflect on these meetings and your progress on the project.

Remember to join the class Facebook page so that you can keep in touch with developments between classes, such as the poll about the day for next weeks class. The following week is Review Week so there is no class. Use this time to get started on your project – the presentation date will be will be around the corner before you know it!

THINGS TO DO BEFORE THE NEXT CLASS:

  1. Read: the texts given in the Group Project.
  2. Meet: in your teams to discuss the project and brainstorm ideas for development.
  3. Write the fourth post: to your blog reviewing this meeting (or, reflecting on why the meeting didn’t happen).
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Class 3: Team work and collaboration

October 11, 2018

We began class this week by reviewing the Elevator Pitch discussed last week. John admitted he had forgotten to refer to it in the main summary of the class so added it as a comment later, with a link to an article from the Harvard Business Review describing an elevator pitch. You should all prepare a 30 second pitch on any subject you wish. I will call on you at random to deliver it over the next few classes.

John went on to identify the groups in which you will work for the module project. He assigned you to one of five groups each with six members. You are asked to try working online and avoid working together in Real Life (RL) if you can, so that you get as full an experience of online collaborative working as possible.

JOC - 101318 - project groups
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As class progressed it was noticed that some students are having a few problems logging in to SL or getting their voices working. John asked you to help each other sort out these issues outside of class, if you can.

Many of you have sent links to your own blogs to John and these have been posted to the module website – please have a look at the blogs and comment on each other’s posts. You can find a link to them to the right on this page. Those who haven’t yet sent a link to John should do so as soon as possible but at least before next week’s class. You were reminded that the first assessment of your blogs will be after that class – if you haven’t already done so make sure to read the page on module assessment.

LouHug shared the Facebook group he created for us to communicate outside of SL. Second Life 18 is a private group and will be active only for the duration of the module this semester.

John gave a talk on Team Building to the class. Normally, this is delivered by Sitearm Madonna, a graduate from the module with extensive experience of online collaboration but I didn’t have time to contact him in advance. Hopefully, he will be able to join us for a later class to share his wisdom. In the meantime I, rather cheekily, used his excellent slide show Virtual Collaboration Tips and Tools to illustrate my presentation. We discussed the content of slides 2 to 5 in some detail; we just touched on slides 6 and 7 and will revisit the content in the other slides in a later class when it will be more relevant.

For now, you are asked to review the Form, Storm, Norm, Perform paradigm in your own teams to help form a bond. Also, consider the roles within the team you may be best at playing.

THINGS TO DO BEFORE THE NEXT CLASS:

  1. Meet in SL: in your team groups.
  2. Write the third post: on your blog describing the first meeting of your team or, if the meeting did not occur, describe how you tried to facilitate the meeting and why, in your opinion, it didn’t happen.
  3. Read: Living Structures in Second Life Virtual Worlds Projects by Sitearm Madonna. [accessed 13 October 2018].
  4. Read: Painfully Coming to Grips with The Medium is the Message an amusing and accessible introduction to the philosophy of Marshall McLuhan. [accessed 13 October 2018].
  5. Optional reading: Extrapolating on McLuhan: How Media Environments of the Given, the Represented, and the Induced Shape and Reshape Our Sensorium provides a deeper analysis of McLuhan. [accessed 13 October 2018].
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Class 2: Settling in

October 4, 2018

A few new participants joined the class today and settled in almost immediately.

Two participants sent links to their blogs to John during the week. Just before class started he noticed a bunch of emails arrive with links to many more which he will review after the class. He will post links to all the blogs here (see the link in page 9 in the column to the right) and encouraged you all to review the blogs and make comments on them.

John spoke about one of the key shortcomings in a virtual world such as SL: the lack of facial expression and body language. Because our avatars do not react or present non-verbal responses it can be difficult to establish rapport. Indeed, sometimes it can be difficult to know if the person behind the avatar is even there at all. Maybe she or he has gone away from the keyboard (AFK) to make a coffee or answer the phone! Therefore, feedback and response via text message or voice needs to be more frequent to reduce anxiety. You can text message ‘Acuppa Tae nods’ or ‘John smiles’ or even ‘y’ from time to time to reassure others that you remain engaged or agree with what they are saying.

We had a useful discussion on the different voices of the sample blogs given last week (Dolce Merde, Brain Pickings and Chris Brogan) and analysed when and why you might read them. We also tried to determine the purpose of the blogs. So, for example, Chris Brogan is essentially reinforcing his reputation as a thought leader in online marketing whereas Dolce Merde is playfully offering eye candy. The discussion incorporated a review of your own reading habits: where you go for topical news; how you verify the facts presented to you; your unconscious trust in some media sources compared with others etc. Many of you joined in the conversation and contributed well. John concluded by reminding everyone that you should be cautious around your consumption of information and practice analysing sources to develop discrimination.

John commented that the tone adopted in your blog posts last week was appropriate for the content. It was mostly informal and informative, using a chatty style. You will find that you need to vary this tone from week to week depending on the topic you are writing about. You should also remember the basic conventions of academic writing and apply them appropriately during the semester. Be aware of writing in a narrative, descriptive, reflective and critical voice. It is also important that you refer to your sources and cite them appropriately. There are many different styles that can be used for citations but the main thing to remember is the purpose: your readers needs to be able to check your source for themselves. The College favours the APA Style so it is usually best to use it. Here are some useful links on the subject.

We agreed to use a private Facebook page for communication outside the class. One of you (I didn’t catch who it was) agreed to set it up and John gave his Facebook address to be added. If you aren’t already on Facebook you should set up an account for the duration of the semester. You may do this in your avatar’s name if you wish but please note that while this is a common practice it is, strictly speaking, a breach of Facebook’s Terms of Service.

THINGS TO DO BEFORE THE NEXT CLASS:

  1. Make contact: with two or three residents of Second Life. Introduce yourself and try to engage them in conversation. Always remember: if you find yourself in an uncomfortable situation for any reason QUIT Second Life immediately. You can log in again in a different location.
  2. Write the second post: on your blog describing your encounters.
  3. Read: 5 steps to build a productive and tight knit remote team by Diogo Costa in Tech Co, 5 February 2016.
  4. Read: 10 Rules of Professional Etiquette for the Digital Workplace by Aaron Orendorff in Lifehacker, 27 April 2016.

OPTIONAL ADDITIONAL READING ABOUT VIRTUAL WORLDS:

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Class 1: Welcome

September 27, 2018
First meeting of semester one class 2018/9

A collection of angels, a horse, werewolf, witch, unicorn, vampire, some warriors and normals gather for the first class of the semester.

 

With almost 30 participants turning up for the first class this semester looks like being the busiest yet (for John, at any rate!). Everyone arrived in good time and ready to engage. Despite the fact that nobody identified as gamers all appeared comfortable and relaxed in the virtual environment.

We started with some basic housekeeping as John identified each participant and linked your avatars with your student identities. One interesting thing that emerged was the anonymity of participants – many of you chose avatar names that are different from your real names and want to retain that anonymity. John agreed not to reveal real names unless you agree in advance! We will use avatar names throughout the semester. We all ‘friended’ (is that really a word?) each other so we can keep in contact and you can see who else from our class is logged in to SL at any time. It also allows you to send private instant messages (IM) to each other, even when you are in different locations in SL – very useful if you cannot find the DIT campus or get lost somewhere in SL.

John will add everyone to the DIT Module group over the next few days. You should remember to activate this group when joining the class on Wednesdays: think of it as your virtual student card. It gives you special privileges in virtual DIT (more on that in later classes) and facilitates closed group conversations.

We discussed the most suitable social media platform to facilitate conversations outside SL. It seems to come down to two choices: WhatsApp or Facebook. A quick poll suggested Facebook as the favourite but we agreed to think about it over the week and make decision in the next class. Recent classes have set up a private Facebook page – it is useful for asking questions about the module, sending notifications about changes in meeting times, for John to post links to these class summaries etc. Perhaps a volunteer will come forward to set up the page?

John explained that class time will be discursive and interactive during the semester. Reading material will be set in advance to inform the discussion so please ensure you make time to review it, starting with the link below; read before next week’s class! Please engage in the class discussion, either by voice or text chat: the more you do so the more you will learn. You will also need to spend some time in SL between classes to complete tasks and activities. Specific activities will be set for the first few classes to get you started.

Each of you will need to create a blog in your avatar’s name. You will be expected to post to it at least once per week for the duration of the semester. Once again, you will be given specific topics for the first few weeks to get you started. If you keep this habit and post weekly you will avoid the burden of having to write a complete paper at the end of the module. John also explained that you will divided randomly into groups next week to work on a project which will be presented at the final class of the semester. You are encouraged to read through the pages listed in the right hand column of this website to get full details of the project, see examples of previous student blogs and get an idea of what to expect in the rest of the course.

THINGS TO DO BEFORE THE NEXT CLASS:

  1. Explore: SL with some colleagues from the class. Visit at least 3 different locations. Find them in search or ask other residents for recommendations, or simply select places at random.
  2. Read: How to Write a Blog People Want to Read by Susan Gunelius in Lifewire, 23 June 2018.
  3. Set up your blog: using bloggerwordpresstumblr or any other blog site. Complete the ‘About Me’ page (read some of those pages on other blogs first) and remember it is different from the first post on your blog. Write from the perspective of your avatar: the persona you will be using to explore in this module. Send a link to your blog to John by email or post it in the FaceBook group.
  4. Write the first post: to your blog reviewing the locations you visited. Describe the places and include photos, if you can. Explain what you liked and disliked about the locations and describe any interaction you might have had.
  5. Visit the following: Dolce Merda, Brain PickingsIllustration Friday, Chris Brogan. Think about how you would identify these blog authors…what impression do you get of the person behind the blog?
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