Archive for the ‘2021 Class summaries’ Category

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Class 4: Team Project – Tomorrow’s Office

February 25, 2021
Class photo Spring 2021

We finally managed to get almost everyone together for a class photo.

We started class this week by having close look at the module details in Brightspace, particularly the Assessment unit and the Team Project. John guided you through these sections and emphasised the importance of reading carefully the project details, the brief, the assessment criteria and the submission details. There is specific information on the Website Blog and the Team Project with which you should familiarise yourselves to ensure your independent work is accurate and contributes towards your mark and final grade. (These details are not contained in this website as they are relevant only to you.) There is no point in working hard if you are not doing what is required for the assignments, so work smart!

John referred to the assessment for the Team Project and explained the difference between the group mark and the individual mark. Remember that the aim of the project is to give you the opportunity to experience working on a collaborative project in an online environment. Whether the end result, or your presentation, is a success or a failure doesn’t matter. It is your experience and learning that is being assessed. You demonstrate this through your reflective and critical writing in your blogs.

Refer back to the assessment criteria regularly throughout the semester to ensure you don’t wander off course.

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Class 3: Teamwork and Collaboration

February 18, 2021

Settling in for Sitearm Madonna’s presentation.

John welcomed Sitearm Madonna to the class introducing him as a graduate of the module and subsequent guest speaker since then. Sitearm, a retired engineer and currently a consultant in online applied collaboration, has vast experience of team working and has developed a theoretical framework to support online teamwork. He has been refining the presentation each semester and delivered this class in voice with a subtitles. There was also space for input from the class and participants with a live demonstration of briefing, brainstorming, and debriefing. You were very cooperative and engaged enthusiastically, making the content far more meaningful while practicing the application of the theory.

To review the basic content of the presentation see the class summary posted posted in February 2020. You can also review Sitearm’s slides and notes which he has generously made available on his website.

Class 3 in discussion

Engaging with Sitearm in demonstrating teamwork in action.

Sitearm accompanied his talk with comprehensive explanatory slides.

John finished the class by thanking Sitearm for a most engaging class. You will be putting the theory into practice immediately as the Team Project will be introduced next week. In advance, please review the brief in Brightspace and have your first team meetings before next week’s class. Here are your assigned teams:

Team assignments for the Team Project – Tomorrow’s Office

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Week 2: Blogging to the World

February 11, 2021

Much to our relief when we logged in to SL for class today everybody found that ‘voice’ was working. This ensured our second class was much more accessible and far easier to engage with than was our first class last week. A few more participants joined the group and once they were settled John thanked those who had sent links to their blogs and reminded everybody else to do so as soon as possible (send your link by email). He will post the links on the student blogs page here and asked you all to check out your classmates blogs, read their posts and leave comments.

You were reminded to include an ‘About me’ page in your blog (see page 1 here for an example). From the discussion is seems that many of you had read Griffin’s article ‘How to Write a Killer About Me page for your Blog‘ and understood the importance of giving your potential readers a context for your opinions. John reminded you that although your blogs are public and available to anyone to read it is unlikely that they will gain a following without promotion and advertising; nevertheless, you may use your avatar’s persona for the blog if you are uncomfortable using your Real Life (RL) identity. Simply write your bio from the perspective of your avatar as a participant on the module.

We discussed the continuing relevance of blogs on the web and many of you confirmed that you are more likely to view videos or listen to podcasts than read blogs. Indeed, there appeared to be a feeling that blogs are a somewhat dated form of publication. John suggest that it might be that the online-diary nature of blogs has changed and the level of presentation has evolved so the what was once seen as a blog is now an online magazine publication. Once a distinct format in its own right blogs have now become an integral element of many websites.

You asked about the most appropriate style of writing for a blog and whether it should be casual and informal or more academic. This module, as part of its learning methodology, uses writing as a mechanism for learning. The intention is that by the end of the semester you are confident in your own writing ability and familiar with the conventions around accountability. You will use four main forms of writing for your blogs: descriptive, narrative, reflective and critical. This can be achieved while writing in an informal tone of voice – a dry academic style is not suitable for blogging. However, you do need  to be accurate and write to the topic. It is also important to ensure your opinions are validated by referencing to your sources. In the first instance those sources will be the reading and viewing material for the module but, as you go on it is important to read around the topics and discover your own sources. Remember, it is essential that you reference the sources correctly. John referred to the links provided in the reading list to support your writing and referencing.

The practicalities of working online were discussed and you noted the difference between SL and video platforms such as Zoom, Bongo and Team. Online virtual worlds seem to be more immersive and less tiring than video meetings, despite the somewhat dated look and feel. SL can also be seen as less intrusive as you aren’t required to share video of your personal space in RL. In all online engagements, however, the lack of body language and the ‘distance’ allow for misunderstanding to arise more easily than it might in RL. Humour, particularly the more subtle form, can be lost and efforts to convey irony can come off badly. Therefore, it is important to be aware of the conventions and etiquette that are appropriate to any online group in which you are working and to provide feedback and cues that support your communication. Positive engagement is not guaranteed so be aware of the need to confirm your points of view are understood.

Finally, John introduced the assignment for next week. You are to try and meet at least three individuals in SL and engage them in conversation. He explained that this exercise is becoming increasingly difficult as residents of the virtual world are less accessible than they used to be. SL, and other virtual worlds, used to have a tradition of welcoming to the ‘newbie’ but, this seems to be less true these days. As people become more specific in their use of virtual worlds they tend to have less time for casual engagement, and may ignore you, or even be rude. John recommended that if you feel uncomfortable during any of your engagements don’t hesitate to quit SL immediately. Don’t worry about how you may be perceived – just get out if things don’t feel right. While you cannot come to any physical harm in a virtual place don’t allow yourself to be exposed to any form of aggressive or inappropriate behaviour either. Whether or not you are able to find any avatars to engage with write about your attempts and experiences in your blog post this week.

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Class 1: Welcome to SL

February 4, 2021

Welcome to Second Life (SL) the new semester and a large class of over twenty participants. We are joined by students of Visual Communications, Interior Design, Architecture, Contemporary Visual Culture and Fine Art. While almost all of you found your way into Second Life there was a major issue with getting voice activated. Only four of you were able to do so successfully. In fact, John also had an issue when he logged in half an hour before class started. He found some suggestions on the SL wiki and eventually resolved it be clearing the cache. So, if you are still having trouble with your voice check out that link and see if you can resolve it. John also suggested you visit SL during the week in pairs, or larger groups, and try to get your voice working together. If the students who were successful with voice can help the others it would be great. It is important that you get voice activated because you cannot hear other avatars speaking unless yours is working.

picture of the class

We have a larger class than usual this semester with over twenty participants.

 

The glitch resulted in a slightly more chaotic and slower introduction than is usually the case as we were restricted to communication via text chat. However, everyone persevered and John got through most of the topics scheduled for the first class.

Firstly, everyone ‘friended’ each other. You will see from the pic above that this turns your avatars name tag from white to green and it means that you know when your classmates are online and you can communicate more easily, particularly if you end up in different locations in SL. You can offer to teleport a friend directly to your location also. Play around with it and see what else you discover.

John went on to explain that the format of the module is interactive discussion, based on the weekly reading material given in the corresponding class unit in Brightspace. It is important that you read (and view video material) before we meet in class so that you contributions are informed and relevant. If this is not done we will need to do the reading in class, which will result in the later finishing time of 9.30 pm! You will find a short quiz each week in Brightspace which will let you know if you have engaged with the topic and understood it. Your answers do not count for assessment.

You will also need to visit SL between classes to carry out the tasks set in the Assignment part of each weekly unit in Brightspace. Initially these tasks are described for you in some detail. For instance, this week you should explore at least three different locations in SL. As the semester progresses you will be assigned to a team and will begin work on a project to be presented in the final week and your blog posts will reflect on that.

This week you must also start a blog using wordpress and write your first post describing the locations in SL that you have visited. Throughout the semester you will post to the blog on a weekly basis so that by the end of the semester you will have produced the equivalent of a semester paper.

Finally, John asked you to read the Assessment unit in Brightspace very carefully so that you understand it fully. The blog will count for fifty percent of your final mark, with the Team Project making up the balance. Note that the first assessment point is in four weeks so don’t leave things to the end!

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