As this is probably the last assignment I will write (Ever!) The meaning ‘wrap up post’ really works well for me here. I’ll be talking about my experiences with the subject and how learning in my own time made quite a bit of difference. Social Technologies has been the subject that has sat patiently in the corner waiting, undemanding, while I slaved away at my other subjects. When I was ready, it was there waiting. It’s been nice knowing you, Social Technologies. Let’s wrap it up.
You can Create a Sense of Community Online
So what have I learned this semester? It is possible to create a community online. Google+ is a social community. It contains real people and our experiences are mostly done on this online space. The Google+ community can also be described as a Personal Learning Network. It can be described as a PLN based on its user’s aim to learn from others in an online space. In an era of “Networked Media” the way information is able to flow is different. For a class like Social Technologies, it makes perfect sense to allow the students to take to networks to branch out for help, information and to gain a sense of human interaction online. I have always liked Google+ and think it worked well for this class. It achieved it’s aims of connecting similar users. Google+ is like a Facebook page, but regardless of the network tool used I believe the overall community found there would be similar; however small changes to how Google+ operates (links on the side, hashtags, posting ability) makes it better for a structured learning environment like a class.
What I Liked
Overall, I really enjoyed this unit. As mentioned, I liked how undemanding it was of my time; and adding to that, how much it allowed me the freedom to pick topics that interested me, which reflected in the work I produced. Social Technologies picked topics that did interest young, knowledgeable tech students using forms they already understood (hashtags, activism, memes, networks) and expanded our knowledge by learning through the assessment (rather than by assessed learning!).
Some topics were based on modern controversy and some sparked a little controversy of their own. This made writing very interesting. As someone who is not a natural creative writer, writing a thoughtful reflection on a subject I both cared about and had researched made for an interesting read and made me learn something every time, even when I thought I knew everything there was to know on a certain topic. Some topics made me super interested, such as citizen journalism (a macro version of the networking in this subject)
What I Didn’t Like
Social Technologies can be a bit of an oxymoron. We’re here to socialize based on topics, but can it really be natural “socialization” when everything we do is for a mark? In several subject I’ve had similar to this one (blogging and interacting) I have despised the forced earnestness of posting a new comment, or creating discussion for marks. In this subject, I’ve seen it done as best as it possibly can be, with people (including myself) often posting and commenting (in Google+ for the sole purpose of social gain. However, I still struggled to write comments on blog posts, especially when the only reason I am doing it is through force, and not because I want to. Melissa wrote my thoughts on this subject perfectly in her blog post Hindsight is a Wonderful Thing.
Speaking of social interaction, the student body was often disappointing, with very few students showing up to class, interacting online or even submitting assessed work. I imagine the class would have been an even better learning environment if we had even 50% of students interacting on a daily bases, rather than the 5% it felt like. Hopefully trial and error will fix a few of the bugs here, but I suspect when you give students the option to willingly interact, they will not most of the time.
Overall, this was a great unit. The assessment and weekly activities always asked for a little of my personal touch to every piece I wrote or posted, Assessment 1 being at the crux of this. I learned how I use the technologies available to me on a daily basis and the creation between some of the biggest internet movements we are seeing right now, such as activism, citizen journalists and hashivism. I’ve learned how a social aspect can drive activity and spark ideas, be it a cool post on IAB260 or an inspiring tweet with thousands of likes and millions of views. It’s all connected! I’ve enjoyed my time in this unit immensely and has raised my attention to how we socialize online, even in the smallest of details (such as sharing a meme with a friend on Facebook). This is now our modern world.. and this is a very very relevant topic. I would certainly recommend this subject to all my student friends I’ll be leaving behind.