Posts Tagged ‘blog writing’

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Class 2: Blogging to the World

February 13, 2020

The second class of the semester gets underway as everyone settles down.

We had a few more students join us this week and John arranged for them to join the module group after class. But he began the class by showing the blogs set up by three of you so far and reminding everyone to read the assessment criteria for the assignment. You will see that it is a requirement to write a post every week. On the one hand this is to ensure that you don’t have a big demand on your time at the end of the semester but, more importantly, to ensure you have time and space to reflect on your learning and progress continuously during the semester. Everyone who hasn’t already done so must submit a link to their blog this week (email it to John). The links will be posted here on the module website so that you can all see each others blogs, and even post comments to them.

John suggested that you probably don’t make a habit of reading blogs… When the module first started, over ten years ago, blogs were very much in fashion and many students were already avid bloggers. You confirmed that this is no longer the case. You more commonly use Instagram or, perhaps, twitter and occasionally, YouTube. However, you did not think changing the assessment element to a vlog would be a good move – preferring to remain with the traditional written blog.

During the discussion it was clear that many of you are not preparing for the class in Brightspace. You are not reviewing the Reading List, looking at the topics given in advance of the class discussion or availing of the Quiz. John reminded you that this is an essential part of the module. The in-class discussion must be informed by the reading or you will simply be sharing uninformed and relatively valueless opinions. The reading and viewing material has been specifically selected for accessibility and to be varied so it is not asking too much that you engage with it each week.

When asked if you had seen the class summary for last week many of you seemed unaware of this module website so John shared the link again. He reiterated that this resource is at your disposal and you should use it. It is particularly useful if, as in some cases, you crash out of SL during class, or your mic fails for a while and you end up missing some of the discussion: you can review the class content in these weekly summaries and catch up on the detail.

When writing your blog posts remember to adhere to academic writing standards and protocols that you are expected to apply in your critical theory classes. Use all forms of writing: narrative, descriptive, reflective and critical. Refer to the reading and viewing material from the module reading list and cite it correctly. The additional reading list this week gives links to manuals describing how to do this and will be useful resources for you to refer back to over the course of the semester.

We also spoke about the conventions and etiquette that you need to be aware of when working virtually. When you join a new group, whether in work or socially, you take time to see how people behave. The same thing applies when it comes to online working. Here in SL I have already suggested that you need to provide feedback to me to confirm that you understand what I am saying: typing a ‘y’ into the nearby chat window for instance. This also reassures me that you haven’t gone off to make a cup of tea and it replaces the body language and facial expressions we are so used to relying in real life. If you find yourself working in a virtual space that uses live video feed different work-arounds will be needed. The key is to remember the importance of reaction and feedback in human communication.

Finally, John asked everyone to prepare for next week’s class carefully and attend on time because we have our first guest speaker joining us.

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Class 2: Blogging to the World

October 3, 2019
Forest walk

Strolling through a forest in Second Life

Many of you have submitted your blogs which are now listed on page 9 (see the link in the right-hand column). You should have a look at each others blogs and post comments on them. You might even have a look over some of the blogs by past participants on the module. John asked those who have not yet sent him a link to their blogs to do so now. He also reminded you to ensure you posted a bio (for your avatar) to the ‘about me’ page on your blog.

We discussed your experiences travelling around SL and visiting different locations. Many of you found interesting places but were struck by the lack of people there. This may be due to the time difference between here and North America, where the vast majority of SL residents are based, or it could just be that the places were built by residents who enjoy building for its own sake and are not interested in attracting visitors. Many of you remarked on the curiosity of avatars engaging in sunbathing and other ‘human’ activities which seem pointless for an avatar. This opened some musing on how and why people use SL: is it purely social? is there an opportunity for business activity? does the ‘reality’ of the environment help social lubrication? when you can teleport between locations why build roads and railways? are vehicles purely ornamental? why would anyone bother?

Beach

Do avatars enjoy sunbathing as much as people do?

Arising from the final point John suggested it would be worth considering why spaces such as SL, or other online environments, might be preferable social spaces for some people. For example, people who find it difficult to engage with others in RL due to shyness have found confidence in virtual environments where they have more control over the interaction.

We spoke about the need for clarity around our interactions: avatars don’t do body language (beyond some very basic movements) so that means we have to add the subtle layer of communication into our interactions very deliberately. Even reassuring each other that we are still online and paying attention is necessary. Giving regular feedback to indicate our presence is essential in all online engagement.

John introduced this week’s assignment to meet other residents in SL and try to engage in conversation. Some of you have already done this so you can record the results in your blog post. Be careful in this exercise because SL, just like RL, has all sorts of individuals wandering around. If you feel uncomfortable at any time just quit immediately. Don’t forget to set the classroom as your Home Location so you can return there easily.

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Class 2: Blogging to the world

February 14, 2019

This week’s class started with John asking if anyone had visited SL since the last class to complete the assignment. Everyone said they had done so. Then you were reminded that you should send a link to your blog to John. Remember that the first assessment takes place after Class 4 and counts for 20% of your final mark so it is worth getting your posts written on a weekly basis.

We continued by talking about writing to your blog. John explained that regular posting will help your confidence in writing and at the conclusion of the module you should have experience of writing in an accountable manner. We discussed the different voices available: descriptive, narrative, reflective, critical and analytical; along with the importance of references and citing from the module reading lists. Finally, the importance of proof-reading before publishing was emphasised.

Then John asked if some of you would present your bios (About me pages from your blogs) just to get some experience expressing yourselves with voice in SL. Aestheticant volunteered and after sharing a considered bio told us she would be updating it for next week. Nobody else had a bio prepared so it was agreed that you would be ready for next week.

After that we all left the classroom and moved out to the garden to talk about the practicalities of work in on online environment. You agreed that while avatars gave some animation and life to our engagement they fall far short of providing the kind of cues we are used to in Real Life. The ability to read body language is completely missing, as is the subtlety of mood changes and loss of attention. Therefore it is very important to make up for this by presenting cues explicitly. The use of emojis and emoticons arose in response to this realisation. In SL we have already seen that giving regular feedback is necessary. The point to remember is that any virtual space is much less conducive to accurate communication than Real Life so we need to make a conscious effort to address the shortcoming. Each environment will have its own conventions and etiquette and we need to be aware of the importance of learning these and abiding by them.

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Class 1: First meeting

September 22, 2016

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Welcome to ‘Virtual Environments: Is one life enough?’ and to Second Life for the first class! It has been noticeable in recent years that participants are navigating digital environments with greater ease and as a class you have demonstrated that definitively. Well done.

For those who may be having difficulty logging into SL or finding your way about please talk to your colleagues for advice and help.

After everyone settled down John and Locks Aichi introduced themselves and went through some housekeeping. We all added each other to our ‘friends’ list. This enables you to see when participants login to SL and you can send an instant message (IM) to each other when you are in different locations – very handy if someone gets lost in SL. John also added you to the DIT Module group and asked that you activate that group when joining the class. Think of it as your student card: it will give you access to DIT in SL. John also ensured that he knew everyone’s real identity – an important issue online where avatars and aliases allow us to present anonymously.

John explained that class will be interactive and discursive. Each week we will look at a different topic, introduced by a set text that you are asked to read before the class so as to inform the debate. It is important that everyone participates fully and engages to get full benefit from attending. You will also need to visit SL between class times to complete activities that will be set to encourage exploration. Specific activities will be set for the first few classes to get you started.

You were all asked to create a new blog for the duration of the course. You will be expected to write a weekly post describing your experience of the class and the discussions and activities in which you engage. 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 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.

We discussed what communication platform we should use to support the class. It should be one that most people use already so you are not having to introduce something new. It also means that as you are using it regularly messages about the class are less likely to be missed. Previous groups set up private Facebook groups and used twitter and LinkedIN. Other options include WhatsApp or Tinder. Think about it and we will decide next week.

You will each receive L$300 to allow you experience the economy in SL but, don’t get too excited, it is only equivalent to about US$1. Visit some shops and markets to find out how the economy functions. If you want to earn more, see if you can find a part-time job in SL.

THINGS TO DO BEFORE THE NEXT CLASS:

  1. 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. Email a link to your blog to John.
  2. Write the first post: to your blog about your expectations for this module – what you hope to get out of it, what you think you might contribute, etc. Address the relevance of  module objectives from your perspective, ie, justify why you think they are important to you.
  3. Look at: John O’Connor’s blog and Dreamscape Diary bearing in mind what you learned today compare your own blog writing to this.
  4. Visit the following: Dolce Merda, Brain PickingsIllustration Friday, Chris BroganStyle Pantry Think about how you would identify these blog authors…what impression do you get of the person behind the blog?
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Class 11: Penultimate

May 12, 2016

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The final class before students present their group project work next week agreed to a slightly later start time of 8.30 pm on May 19th. John gave students a notecard with details of how to prepare slides for the presentation.

Untitled copy

If you have any questions about the project please post them to the Facebook group and John will endeavour to answer as soon as possible.

Remember that the blogs will be due for assessment next week also. Make sure you complete all the required posts and follow the guidelines and feedback you have been given throughout the module. The deadline for completing your blog is midnight Friday 20th May – they will be assessed sometime after that.

THINGS TO DO BEFORE THE NEXT CLASS:

  1. Read: 5 Steps to Build a Productive and Tight Knit Remote Team.
  2. Write the tenth post: to your blog after you have made your presentation next week. Describe how you think the presentation succeeded and where it could have been better. Comment on what you learnt about online collaborative working.
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Class 7: Medium and message

April 7, 2016

We began the class by talking about the feedback John gave on the student blogs. He reminded everyone of the importance of writing all of the required posts so you should check that you have done that now: everyone should have at least six posts written – as described in the ‘things to do before the next class’ section of all class summaries (note that the next assessment point for the blog will be following next week’s class). You might like to read advice on blog writing from Prof Dreamscape to students on this module in 2014.

Following that we had a discussion based on the the reading material provided on Marshall McLuhan and Axel Bruns. Not everyone had read the papers so we took five minutes out to do so before continuing. We looked in particular at the impact of social media apps and how they might be influencing how people interact. This was compared with older communications technology such as the land-line telephone. Using both text and voice a lively discussion ensued with everyone sharing their views.

THINGS TO DO BEFORE THE NEXT CLASS:

  1. Ensure your blog is up to date with six posts written and your bio clearly visible (the bio may relate to your avatar – in other words it may be fictional or aspirational).
  2. Read the group project brief 21st Century workplace and be prepared to interrogate it during the next class.
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Class 6: Making content

March 10, 2016

A very small class (only two participants) made discussion a little thinner than usual but Stinkylink and Rebeccahellohowru contributed valiantly to ensure a lively(ish) session, which Dudley Dreamscape joined later.

The task of buying clothing and trying to dress your avatars proved less easy than anticipated. Some ended up shirtless with floating objects they were unable to remove, or wearing unexpected items of clothing. However, engaging with the economy of SL gave an insight into the level of engagement by residents. Nevertheless, I get a strong sense that the participants this semester are somewhat bemused by SL and cannot really understand why anybody would choose to spend time in-world by choice. One participant described SL as a chatroom with pictures. I have frequently used the same descriptor and assumed the pictures were a useful addition to communication but, the question now seems to be: do the pictures serve any useful purpose? After all, the visual quality of SL has not seen a step change since its inception in the early 2000s. It remains cartoonish and very crude when compared with similar online worlds created for gaming (World of Warcraft, Call of Duty etc). The most significant issue may well prove to be the mediation by an avatar. Until we can insert ourselves directly into the virtual world the sense of distance may continue to be off-putting to the average person.

using-smartphone

Also, it seems that the plethora of communication media such as WhatsApp, Whisper, Yik Yak, Instagram, Tinder and Snapchat that facilitate text, pic and video sharing are becoming integral to social engagement. Online and virtual tools are no longer used primarily to bridge geographic distance but are part of normal everyday interaction. Many of these apps are marketed on the premise of impermanence – claiming that the content is deleted or disappears within a certain timeframe. While this replicates real life conversation giving a sense of anonymity and safety to the user it should be treated with caution.

We also discussed how participants are getting on with their blogs and I gave feedback on the week four assessment reminding you to ensure you are up to date with your posts. The next assessment point is after week eight so you have time to catch up if necessary. This led to a discussion about content creation informed by Axel Bruns’ lecture From Prosumer to Produser that was set for viewing last week. If you missed the class and have not read it please do so before the next class.

Finally, the brief for the group project has been posted to the blog. Please read it and if you have any questions post them to the Facebook group discussion and I will do my best to respond as soon as possible.

THINGS TO DO BEFORE THE NEXT CLASS:

  1. Read: What is the Meaning of the Medium is the Message? by Mark Lederman.
  2. Write the sixth post: to your blog reflecting on your own use of online social media.
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Class 5: Personal branding

March 3, 2016

There was a smaller class group this week so, after waiting for the others to turn up we started a discussion on the assignment completed during the week. All of you visited clubs in SL and discovered the peculiarity of DJs, performers and the joy of dancing in this environment. You also discovered that communities form around such regular events, much as they do in real life. Also, as in real life, it may not always be easy to get access to the community – people may not be willing to engage with newbies. We will return to a discussion about communities in a later class. Some of you were unable to animate your avatar to get it to dance and those who did were unable to stop dancing! John gave everyone an object that stops animations by dragging it onto your avatar – a handy device to keep in your inventory.

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We decided to visit the Bauhaus Museum in SL for the second part of the class. It is a recreation of the famous early 20th Century school in Weimar Germany presenting information about the staff and students along with an exhibition of Bauhaus work and Bauhaus-inspired work. The spacious venue is also ideal for hosting an impromptu discussion. Although there were other visitors viewing the work it was possible to sit comfortably and discuss the reading material on personal branding.

John reminded the class that the first assessment of the blogs will take place sometime after 12 midnight on Sunday 6th March, so ensure your blog posts are all up to date before the end of the weekend.

John also dispersed cash in the form of L$. Each student received L$300 to facilitate their interaction with the SL economy. Despite the appearance of immense generosity on his part John explained that the exchange value is somewhere in and about US$1. No opportunity to get carried away, therefore. You should also be aware that there is plenty of free stuff available around SL if you go searching. Try experimenting with clothing: how to change outfits (you will find a wardrobe in your inventory folder); accessories such as jewellery and watches; objects such as mugs and glasses, tools etc. You need to spend some time playing in SL so that you get a sense of the possibilities.

THINGS TO DO BEFORE THE NEXT CLASS:

  1. Visit: shops in SL and make a purchase using the L$ given to you in the class.
  2. Write the fifth post: to your blog describing your experience of the consumer economy in SL.  
  3. Lecture: From Prosumer to Produser: Understanding User-Led Content Creation by Prof Axel Bruns (Creative Industries Faculty at Queensland Institute of Technology) explains his theory of user-led collaborative content creation.
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Class 3: Exploring SL

February 18, 2016

This week saw better attendance than last week and all participants shared links to their blogs. John will review them and post comments (where possible, tumblr and blogger don’t seem to allow this). There was a discussion about the best way to communicate which led to the setting up of a Facebook group for the class. This will be the main method of communication outside of SL.

We got reports from everyone about their experiences exploring Second Life. The reaction was mixed with the exercise throwing up some of the difficulties interacting with the virtual world and its residents. We will talk about interacting with other avatars next week, when everyone will have had an opportunity to try it out!

Not everyone had read the assigned text so John reminded the class of the importance of doing so. If not, we will break off to read it during class and then run on late. It is necessary to have read the text so that an informed discussion can be had. We did go on to talk about how virtual teams might work. Everyone joined in and gave examples from their own experience. The general view is that it is more difficult to build and maintain teams that do not meet in real life. John suggested that participants keep an eye on this aspect of their experience over the semester and review their opinions at the end to see if they have changed in any way.

Because of attendance a slight rearrangement of groups will be needed. John will post the updated group members to the Facebook group.

THINGS TO DO BEFORE THE NEXT CLASS:

  1. Explore: SL and find at least two different strangers to talk to. Find out what you can about their second life; what they do in SL; why they spend time here; what interests they have; and so on. Remember that in SL there is no need to be shy – it is not unusual to approach other residents and start a conversation.
  2. Write the third post: on your blog describing your encounters.
  3. Read: The truth doesn’t seem to matter very much in UCD revenge porn saga an opinion piece in The Irish Times that reveals the fear and uncertainty surrounding online engagement.
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Class 1: First meeting

February 4, 2016

Well done to those who made it to Second Life for the first class! You all managed very well indeed. For those who are still having difficulty logging into SL please talk to your colleagues and see if they can offer advice and help.

The landmark to Dublin is no longer working so after contacting John we all teleported directly to the media centre for an introduction to the course. The regular class meeting time will be Thursday at 8.00 pm and finishing between 9.00 and 9.30 pm. We will meet at the Media Lab and all participants saved the location so you will be able to return there whenever you log into SL. For anyone who missed it here is the link again DIT in SL

We also added each other to our ‘friends’ list. This enables you to see when participants login to SL and you can send an instant message (IM) to each other when you are in different locations – very handy if someone gets lost in SL. John also added you to the DIT Module group.

John explained that class will be interactive and discursive. Each week we will look at a different topic, introduced by a set text that you are asked to read before the class so as to inform the debate. It is important that all participate fully and engage to get the full benefit from attending. You will also need to visit SL between class times to complete activities that will be set to encourage exploration. Specific activities will be set for the first few classes to get you started.

You were all asked to create a new blog for the duration of the course. You will be expected to write a weekly post describing your experience of the class and the discussions and activities in which you engage. 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 be paired off 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.

ACTIVITIES FOR NEXT CLASS:

  1. 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. 
  2. Write the first post: to your blog about your expectations for this module – what you hope to get out of it, what you think you might contribute, etc. Address the relevance of  module objectives from your perspective, ie, justify why you think they are important to you.
  3. Look at: John O’Connor’s blog and Dreamscape Diary bearing in mind what you learned today compare your own blog writing to this.
  4. Visit the following: Dolce Merda, Brain PickingsIllustration Friday, Chris BroganStyle Pantry Think about how you would identify these blog authors…what impression do you get of the person behind the blog?
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