Posts Tagged ‘class meeting’

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Class 8: Project briefing

April 14, 2016

John gave a detailed briefing on the group project explaining how it should be approached and delivered. The key deliverable is a ten minute presentation but the purpose of the project is to give you a chance to experience working collaboratively online: including the difficulty of arranging to meet; the challenge of holding useful discussion; dividing the workload and so on.

While this aspect of the experience must be presented as part of the final project you are also asked to reflect on the weekly experience in your blog from now on. This will ensure that you receive a fair assessment of your contribution and will not be let down if team mates do not deliver as expected. You will be assessed on your contribution to the project, not simply the overall success of the final presentation.

The presentation in the final class should be delivered vocally (if anyone has problems with their voice in SL let me know) but should have a text backup using notecards. Second Life has a rich set of tools for including images, sound, movies and animation to support your talk. John demonstrated the most simple way of showing images by dragging them from your inventory to a ‘screen’ made from a simple panel. You can practice this in any number of public sandboxes located around SL.

THINGS TO DO BEFORE THE NEXT CLASS:

  1. Write the seventh post: to your blog describing how your group might meet online regularly to develop the project. Discuss the different platforms available, their pros and cons for this work; and how comfortable you think you would be with them.
  2. Meet with your team: to begin discussing your response to the project brief.
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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.

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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 4: Who are you?

February 25, 2016

The class discussed the notion of online identity this week. We started by sharing experiences of trying to meet new people in SL. This proved interesting in many ways. Approaching complete strangers was simultaneously easier and harder than doing so in real life! Harder because participants were new to it and found it took courage and determination to introduce yourselves and begin a conversation. Easier because you were aware that all residents of SL had made a conscious decision to be here and therefore were signifying their willingness to engage with others. The comparison was made with joining a club or going to an entertainment venue where everyone acknowledges that they are in attendance for social interaction.

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Meeting new people in Second Life is both hard and easy!

There were some surprises at the direction conversations occasionally took. Participants discovered a slightly darker side of  the online world that offered ‘adult entertainment’. Just as in the real world, it is possible to encounter unsavoury characters and it is important to be aware of this side of online environments. However, unlike the real world it is easier to escape from an unpleasant experience by teleporting elsewhere or simply logging off.

Many of you suggested that SL offered the opportunity to present yourself in a new way – to experiment with the presence you offered online. Many residents present as animals or imaginary characters such as vampires or zombies. Even more ambiguous is the knowledge that we don’t really know who we are engaging with in an online environment. The cues we rely on in the real world are not available online. John suggested that this ambiguity also permeates notions of the ‘truth’. He gave the example of the Gay Girl in Damascus blog that received international attention when the supposedly lesbian author was revealed as an American male postgraduate student in 2011. The author claimed he was creating a voice for issues he felt strongly about but the public reaction to being hoaxed was less forgiving. John also mentioned last year’s controversy surrounding the white civil rights leader who passed herself off as black for years. One of the surprises in the Rachel Dolezal case is the amount of support she received after the truth was revealed. If people can be race-fluid or gender-fluid in real life it is unsurprising that they can present convincingly in SL.

THINGS TO DO BEFORE THE NEXT CLASS:

  1. Visit: a music or dance club in SL while it is active with other residents and soak up the ambience of online entertainment.
  2. Write the fouth post: to your blog describing your experience of social interaction in SL.  
  3. Read: The Lazy Person’s Guide to Personal Branding by Yohana Desta at Mashable  or Personal Branding Basics by Chris Brogan, expert in online community, social media, and related technologies  or The first Step to Building Your Personal Brand

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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 2: Getting to know SL

February 11, 2016

There seems to be an issue with attendance in the class. Only three out of the nine participants enrolled have attended so far – and not the same three each time. That means that four participants have not yet appeared in class. Last week one person sent apologies in advance but none of the other absent class members has done so since. Therefore it is unclear whether some people have opted out of the module with letting John know or were absent for another reason.This is unsatisfactory for all concerned because we are now two weeks into the syllabus but not everyone has gone through the introduction to the module.

Small classes, by their nature, are more intense and demanding on students than larger ones because there is nowhere to hide: everyone must contribute if meaningful discussion is to occur. This means that students can gain more due to greater individual participation. Unfortunately, it also means that even one absence from class meetings is very obvious and impacts on the possibility of sharing a range of different views. It also means it is not viable to host guest speakers or visit other locations as a class.

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Finally, lack of attendance makes student group project work difficult. (This will not impact on assessment because participants are assessed individually.) It has a real impact on the depth of learning – experiential learning about the dynamics of group work is not possible of one is not actually a member of a group! The learning can only only be academic if you are in a group of one.

Those who attended class this week met Prof Dudley Dreamscape from University of Akron who joined the class and offered his support to participants. Each participant introduced themselves in the form of an ‘elevator pitch’, a less than thirty second statement of their interests. Other than that the class was a repetition of last week’s introduction. Interestingly, some of the participants already have blogging experience. The advice for this class is not to use an existing blog but to start a new one to record your experiences and reflect on what you learn throughout the module.

John also identified the student groups for this semester which will be notified to participants by email.

All participants are asked to read the post for Class 1 and complete the tasks listed under ‘Activity for next week’s class’ before we meet next week. In addition, you need to complete the tasks listed below before next week. That will involve visiting Second Life during the week, with your team mate.

THINGS TO DO BEFORE THE NEXT CLASS:

  1. Explore: Get to know your team partner and explore SL together. You are to visit at least 3 locations that are new to you. Find them in search, or ask other residents for recommendations or select them at random.
  2. Write the second post: on your blog reviewing the locations you visited. Describe the places and include photos, if you can. Explain what you liked and disliked about the location and talk about any interactions you had.
  3. Read: 5 steps to build a productive and tight knit remote team

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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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Class 9: Site visits

November 26, 2015

We spent this class on site visits to the buildings chosen by each group. This gave us an opportunity to observe if voice is available and discuss how the presentations might best be made. Where voice is unavailable text would need to be prepared in advance: for example, prepared text could be pasted into local chat or notecards could be prepared for circulation.

We also noted the footfall at each site. It might be disturbing if there are too many people in the vicinity so we suggested you give this some consideration – visit the site at the same time as class is usually held to ensure you know if it will be busy and to find a suitable location for the presentation.

ACTIVITIES FOR NEXT CLASS:

  1. Write the ninth post: to your blog describing progress on your project.
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Class 8: Projects

November 19, 2015

Students presented progress on their projects in this week’s class. Each group is well engaged in their work, having visited potential buildings around SL and selected one to work with. Students have made an effort to contact the owners of buildings with varying success. We discussed ways of finding out who to contact and how to go about establishing communication. Sometimes this is not as easy as it sounds – even if the avatar is standing in front of you as we discovered last week.

John introduced the class to ‘notecards’ and demonstrated how to make a new notecard and share it with somebody, even when they are offline. This can be a useful way of explaining your interests and reason for making contact.

A few comments on your blogs: most of you are not keeping up with the prescribed posts. You should all have written at least seven posts by now (as listed in the Activities for Next Class section of each class summary). Your posts should be more than a simple description of your activity in SL. You need to reflect on what you are seeing around you; what you feel about the experience; and what you are learning. Look at Rory and Paige’s blogs for good examples. After class 8 your blogs will be assessed again so make sure to get them up to date.

ACTIVITIES FOR NEXT CLASS:

  1. Write the eighth post: to your blog describing progress on your project.
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