I chose to make my final reflection into a video with drawings. Enjoy!
Find the video here
What I Learned in this Course
I do so much better on assignments that allow me to be creative. Or at least, I have a significantly greater amount of fun doing them, even if they are made to be almost entirely educational and THAT makes me work harder on them. Voluntarily. For example, in creating the game, the amount of work put in was absolutely brutal - but that brutality was a choice, and one I was happy to make because of how fun the idea was! I learned a lot about sensationalism in the process, much more than just the surface-level knowledge I carried over from high school. And the entire time it was fun! And in the end, the product was something I was very satisfied with. The same goes for a handful of reflections we did over the semester that I was allowed to be relatively informal for. I found that the simplest loosening of restrictions really impacts how well I work.
That I will use in my academic life
The first thing that comes to mind is definitely the use of non-copyrighted images. I’m very visual with my presentations and I never really considered that it might be just a tad illegal to use whatever I find on google images. At the very least it’s made me more conscious of the issue, which I find valuable for covering all my bases in the future (even if most people won’t notice). But it’s a good habit to get into, at least.
That I will use in my social life
I think I’ll probably keep in mind the whole issue of “Othering” that we talked about earlier this year. What we discussed, in addition to what I learned in my Psychology of Pandemics course, will be helpful in navigating some aspects of my social life. Or at least it will help me understand some more sensitive issues better - or just why people might act the way they do.
That I will use in my career
What won’t I use in my career? There’s a lot to choose from, but I think the communication skills I honed in this class will really help me. In Soliya as well as in general class discussions, I learned how to ask better questions, hold a conversation, and most importantly, speak up when no one’s talking. I also feel like the coded bias assignment will also be beneficial in the future in terms of taking action to prevent being biased. After all, it’s enough that we have unconscious bias - we can’t afford to be complacent about it when we’re aware. And finally, I have to acknowledge the digital literacies pathway project that helped me learn a whole lot about things like image creation and editing, gifs, and combining skills like writing with online mediums.
If I were to show someone my learning in this course…
If I could change things about this course...
I don’t have many criticisms, to be perfectly honest, but if I had to nitpick, it would be to say that the assignments without deadlines should at least be given suggested schedules. A sort of schedule to say that “by this date, it would be better if you had completed this much of the assignment.” It could be a quick announcement on Blackboard, since we did have reminders in class but I’m not sure how effective they were.
I would also suggest that you decrease the amount of time we spend in breakout rooms purely to discuss things because a lot of the time (at least as far as I noticed) the conversations tend to fizzle out quicker than if we’re all in the main room together. Or, if we do have breakout rooms, give us something to write. It’s a hassle to any student, yes, but it does help us keep talking to each other if only so we can get something on the slide/doc.
What kind of person should take this course?
Someone who has had bad experiences online and has to enroll in courses that deny any opportunity for creativity, but is still willing to put effort into a class they would enjoy.
What opportunities for choice did you value, which did you not
I cannot emphasize how much I appreciate having a choice when it comes to assignments because even in regular courses the best I can get is usually to pick between prompts for an essay, if even that. I don’t say that there were no choices I didn’t like because I’m being lazy in this reflection - I mean it sincerely. And that’s because, in all the opportunities for choice provided, there was always one I liked less or that I was less able to do. For the Coded Bias assignment for example, I didn’t have Netflix, so I appreciated the other option instead of having to jump through hoops to get access to someone’s account. For the game, I was similarly thankful because I would have to spend a lot of time on whatever subject it was on - it could have been unfathomably worse if I had been assigned a topic I didn’t like. I also liked the choice of working with a partner. Usually, assignments are you WILL work in a group full of people of questionable work ethics that you just met yesterday or you WILL NEVER let another student breathe in the direction of this project as you are to do it individually and there is no in-between. For this class, I liked having a partner, but there are so many other classes where I would have been so much better off working alone (even though I know working with random people is supposed to help me in the future...doesn’t mean I have to like it). But yes, in general, there were no choices I didn’t appreciate because there was almost always an alternative that I didn’t like. Being able to avoid what I don’t like while still accomplishing what is expected of me is very valuable.
Find the Activity Here!
This last assignment was pretty self-explanatory, I think. All I had to do was create a piece of art in the span of six seconds! The feature that allows me to include my video normally is reserved for a paid account, so please bear with downloading this short file:
My experience creating this video was also fun! Because it's so short I got to pay extra attention to detail. Naturally, I could not be satisfied with just a six second clip, so I put the "Tools & Technology" category to work. I filmed the clip on my phone (after about five minutes worth of failed attempts), then cropped it using Whatsapp, also on my phone. Then, I uploaded it to my computer with AirDrop. I imported it to iMovie from there and first sped it up by 10% to make it actually six seconds (it was seven and some). Then, I played with the tint and saturation to make the colors a bit nicer to look at. Finally, I added text to indicate the seconds as they passed, found a short jingle to compliment the drawing, and exported it to my desktop. With this, I feel like I've built upon my practical skills with digital tools.
Find the Activity Here!
This assignment challenged me to get a photo and edit it to look like a drawing. So, I chose a picture of my dear deceased cat, Mickey, and immortalized him in a drawn style (as for a credit, I took the picture myself):
My experience completing this activity (besides being SAD) was fun! I definitely used both the "Create & Innovate" and "Tools & Technology" categories in this because of the set-up of this post and the editing of the picture, respectively. I used the slideshow element from this site (something I hadn't previously been aware was there) to neatly include a before and after of the image. As for the image itself, I don't have any formal editing software like that suggested in the actual assignment. after some exploring, however, I found some very simple picture editing tools on Microsoft Word and PowerPoint. Apparently, if you insert an image, there's the option to format it, and within that section there are effects you can add to your image like filters. A few of them made this picture look like a drawing, but I thought this one was best, so that's what I went with.
Find the Activity Here!
This assignment is one I won't post but that I can talk about. It asks to rewrite something differently than how it happened. Honestly, I picked it because I was way too curious as to what academic assignment I could find in the fanfiction section of the website.
In short, I read a lot of books, and some deaths have emotionally scarred me. So, I picked a scene from a book called Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo in which my favorite character was shot and died in the arms of his love. I rewrote it with one key difference - that they were able to get him help in time, and he was able to live the simple life he dreamed of.
My experience writing this I think helped improve my "Identity & Wellbeing" category again because it was a little hard to write without plagiarizing, especially at the beginning. It also, predictably, allowed me to maintain my confidence in the "Create & Innovate" section, if not very much because all my formatting was done elsewhere. Overall, I found the activity fun, challenging, and emotionally compromising.
Find the Activity Here
This assignment was another that had to do gifs because I felt like improving my abilities a bit more in relation to that. Also, I seem to be problematically attracted to any assignments that let me tell a story. For this one I have to write a quick story, and its ending has to be a five second gif of my own creation. So, without further ado:
"Captain, sir! Captain Ark!"
The captain shielded his eyes against the rain and looked for who was calling him. Gods above, this isn't the time, he thought. If they ran into one more disaster on this voyage, he wasn't sure what was going to give out first: the ship, his men's morale, or his patience.
The trip had been a disaster from start to finish. First, the dead birds - an undeniable bad omen. Then, the food had spontaneously spoiled with no explanation. And now - he blinked the seawater from his eyes - this blasted storm!
Luck this bad wasn't a matter of mere chance; someone on his ship had angered a god (or several) and now they would all pay the price. But that wasn't what he could afford to concern himself with now. Not when--
The ship pitched violently and the captain nearly lost his balance. He roared warnings at his crew when the boy who had called for him earlier finally caught up to him. He grabbed the lad's arm to keep him steady. He looked slight enough for a a gust to carry him off the deck.
"What news?" The captain shouted over the winds. "Speak, boy!"
"An isle! An isle to the West!"
Hope sparked in the captain's chest. If there was shelter to anchor in, they could wait out the rest of the storm, "Can we drop anchor? Is there a cave?"
But the boy shook his head, "No cave, sir! But the barrelman, he saw a temple!"
"Un--" the ship tilted dangerously again and they both stumbled before regaining their balance. "Unmarked, sir!"
Unmarked? Unmarked! Maybe some god had finally taken pity on them. They could pray for forgiveness to any deity at a temple undedicated, and hopefully escape this cursed storm.
The captain sent the boy back below and bellowed instructions to the men on deck. Under the onslaught of wind and rain, time seemed to slow to a crawl. But eventually, they managed to drop anchor near enough to the island. But they would have to hurry; his ship was still taking a beating simply by remaining near the shore.
The captain reached the shore with a small party of his crew and a satchel of sacrificial offerings on his arm. He ordered everyone to stay behind. It was an unmarked temple, yes, but he still didn't know who it was who had offended the gods. Whoever it was, he did not want them with him.
The temple was a short distance from where they docked, and the captain made haste under the pressure of the rain. Once inside, he walked slowly within. There would be a chamber made for placing the items he had brought with him.
Once he finally found the room, he knelt and spoke a prayer. An ominous silence followed that set him on edge - he had to get back to his ship soon.
Hurriedly, he approached the tall chest in which he was supposed to deposit the items he brought with him. He opened it quickly, placing wrapped packages and various foods inside. When it came to the last, and strangest item he had brought with him, he took a breath, readying to bolt, and hoping no god would be offended by the offering.
Before reflecting, I have to first give credit to my friend who sent me the video from which I made the gif and gave me permission to use it.
Now, my experience with this activity I'm more satisfied with. Because I definitely used the "Create & Innovate" section skills by writing the story and designing the post, but I also worked in my "Tools & Technology" knowledge by replicating what I did last time with the gif, and also making sure its timing was right. Additionally, I managed to improve the "Identity & Wellbeing" category, I think, by familiarizing myself with how to go about properly using a clip that isn't mine in a way that doesn't upset anyone - so by asking permission and providing the desired attribution. This, in turn, also helped me improve my "Communicate & Collaborate" section, since I did have to contact and work with my friend in order to get the clip at all.
Find the Activity Here!
This assignment (from the animated gif section) challenged me to create a gif and make a story around it/perfectly describe it. I made a gif of my cat, Pepper, who learned how to open the fly screen of our kitchen window. For context, he is an outside cat. He should not be letting himself inside - and especially not into the kitchen where we sometimes leave food out. Here's the quick story I came up with:
My sister and I are making lunch when a loud "MEOW" breaks the silence of the kitchen. We look up, and at the same time she groans I beam.
"Pepper!" I say, walking over to the window. "How are you, Mr. Cat?"
Predictably, he answers with a meow. I nod as if this makes sense.
"Don't let him in," my sister says. She finds him too troublesome to tolerate as we try to do anything in the kitchen. I can't really argue, though, after I once caught him sitting on a chair and eating someone's unattended leftovers. But still...
"Don't," my sister says, probably guessing at what I want to do. "let him in."
Obviously - in the way of sisters - her firmness in her desire to keep him out just makes me want to let him in more. But, being the lovely sibling I am, I decide to heed her words.
"Okay," I say. Rightfully, she is suspicious of me and looks away from the food.
I start to tap on the edge of the window screen.
"Heidi!" she shouts.
"What?" I ask, still tapping. "I'm not letting him in!"
I find the lack of amusement on her face in this moment infinitely amusing. Again, in the way of sisters. After all, I won't be letting him in. But, Pepper is a smart cat. As I tap, he looks down intently. And after a few seconds--
"Ugh," my sister complains as Pepper starts to bat at the screen, because we both know what's coming.
Bat - Bat - Bat - Kshhhhhhh
One paw comes through the window, flailing wildly, then a fluffy snout. One more push, and he wiggles his way inside and onto the counter with a meow of pride.
I beam at the same time my sister groans.
This activity had a bit more to do with the categories I was lacking in. While it also included aspects of "Create & Innovate," it also had to do with "Tools & Technology." This is because I'm not that well-versed in more than basic technology, but I was able to figure out how to create a gif from a 39 second long video. I also found a way to include it in this post, which gave me a bit of trouble since I didn't see a "Gif" element that I could easily add. What I ended up doing was cropping and sending the video to myself as a five second gif on whatsapp, then emailing it to myself as a file I could upload. I found that just regularly saving it just made it a still image.
I don't often have the need to use gifs outside of Whatsapp, but this activity showed me a bit more related to the file format and how I might properly transfer it to other devices. So, I feel that helps me improve in terms of "Tools & Technology."
Find the Activity Here!
This activity was the first I came across because despite my intentions to improve my weaknesses, I was drawn to the writing section. This assignment challenged me to write a haiku about a myth, legend, or other folktale.
One of my favorite myths actually happens to be the story of Eros and Psyche, and my love for it was rekindled by a book I recently read (East by Edith Pattou) that was heavily inspired by it in terms of plot. The haiku I came up with was from Psyche's point of view after she sees Eros' face. Since he has been hurt by the wax from the candle she used to look at him as he slept, Aphrodite, his mother, becomes enraged and forces her to undergo impossible trials in order to be worthy of him again:
I dropped wax on him
His mom went berserk but still
I will earn him back
My experience writing this was pretty brief but very fun. I'm not a very accomplished poet, so the more rules there are to its structure, the easier I find it. It was quick to write, and in terms of my attempt to improve my digital literacy skills, I think I ended up playing to one of my strengths. Writing the haiku and creating this post for it falls under the "Create and Innovate" category. However, I would also argue that customizing the text as well as adding, editing, and captioning the image falls under "Tools and Technology" section, which could use some improvement.
Skills vs Literacy Article Reflection
With regard to the article, I think it brings up a lot of good and undiscussed points. There's a distinct difference between skill and literacy, but most of the time we're only taught the former. It's really strange considering how vital the latter is when it comes to communicating with the rest of the world. The how is important, yes, but the why is as well. It's something we need to know although it's often overlooked.
Keeping this in mind, I think my digital profile may leave a bit to be desired. While I'm capable of navigating all the sections, I could be more efficient. As I understand, I am somewhat lacking in the how of some categories, specifically the Tools & Technology, Identity & Wellbeing, and Communicate & Collaborate sections. That said, I think that going forward, I should try and tackle the remained of the how I am yet to learn simultaneously with the why that should accompany it. As such, I decided to choose the Tinkering path in this project to try and build up where I'm lacking.
For this path, I chose 6 activities from this website. Here are my thoughts on each experience! It was like a choose-your-own-adventure type of thing that I really enjoyed. I'll have a post for each activity after this one.
Self-Development Post 3
And now for my final thoughts on keeping this journal! I will preface by saying I was completely thrown for a loop for a bit, so I did miss quite a few days before I got myself situated again, but I definitely still have plenty to talk about.
Last time I mentioned how family and friends showed up several, several times in my entries and I am happy to say that this has remained consistent! Especially towards the end of the semester, I tend to get stressed and my number one method to counter this is complaining (it is very therapeutic and a lot of fun to get overdramatic about your issues with people who are delighted to get overdramatic with you). So, I was consulting my friends very often. I'm always grateful to have an ear at the ready at almost any given time. I've also realized that a friend's willingness to listen to you lose it has nothing to do with how long you've known them - because I find refuge in chats with my best friend of eight years as easily as a new friend who I haven't even known for one! I suppose that's another thing to be grateful for: that I have such dependable friends! But enough of that, since I wrote it down so many times already.
The days where I wrote down how much I appreciate my family had both meaningful but mostly hilarious accounts. I got more comfortable writing as the weeks went on, so it was no longer "I'm grateful for my sister for always helping me out when I need it." Instead, I had "I'm grateful for my sister who dealt with me standing on a ladder and taking pictures from over her head for more than two hours while constantly asking her to rearrange the props in front of her to what must have been her great annoyance."
[Fun Fact: That last one is from yesterday!]
[Less Fun Fact: I'm not going to end up using those pictures in my Photography final]
[Fun Fact Again: This has made today's entry simply my gratitude for the fact that my sister has not killed me for all that time we ended up wasting. That is to say nothing of the mess we made. But I digress]
This series of entries actually ran through Ramadan, so in addition to all my family and friend appreciation, I had several seemingly less significant things to be grateful for. But I was unapologetically grateful nonetheless! For example, I was grateful for a good night's sleep, which became rare as the days went on. I was grateful for deadlines being extended past midnight so that I could nap during the middle of the day in peace. I was grateful for any morning I woke up without a headache. And, most obviously, I was grateful to be able to eat and drink as I pleased once prayer hit. As it should, I was always reminded that this isn't something everyone gets to do, even if they're as hungry and thirsty as I was.
All right. All that said, what are my takeaways on this? Honestly, I don't think they differ much from last time. I am immensely grateful for my family and so, so lucky to have friends who are ready to curse the world with me (in good spirit, of course). The journal has shown me that big things as well as little things are all worthy of gratitude and that sometimes it's the little things that can make your day! I like that I was able to kind of do this project consistently because it really helps me see exactly what serves to make me happy everyday, and I think that's just such a nice thing.
Participating in this Soliya exchange program has been a completely unique experience. It is one I appreciate all the more for it having been held during a pandemic which keeps us relatively confined to our homes and has taken a vital part of our university experience. I learned a lot from our four sessions this semester.
Question 1: How does the dialogue in Connect Express differ from other types of online communication you are familiar with? Why is it different?
As I mentioned, this was a unique experience for me. This is due to multiple aspects of the program, the most notable of which being the diversity of the group. It was so interesting to be able to talk to people from different countries and backgrounds in my age group about various issues. Even if they were trivial, we learned a lot about each other. Finding out that we had a lot of things in common despite our geographical and perhaps cultural differences was surprising, and quite frankly, exciting! The program was different from what I am used to because of how far it reaches. Although I attend a university with people coming from all over the world, it is rare to have the chance to get to know each other and talk like we were able to here.
Another way the program differed is through the format. While my university does use Zoom as its main platform for classes, conferences, and other college activities, it is usually not in such an interactive way. In most cases, it is primarily used for a lecture whereas the program allowed it to be a much freer dialogue between all of us. It likely helped that our group was so small. This enabled us to discuss things in depth and have productive conversations rather than a superficial back-and-forth on the topics.
Question 2: What did you learn about the type of communicator you are in the digital world? (As a media consumer, content producer, or sharer of content)
I learned that in the digital world, I am very reserved in my communication depending on my audience. If it is a small audience of friends and acquaintances I am familiar with, then I can produce and share content as I like, but I am supremely uncomfortable with the idea of posting something that just anyone can see. In comparison to my peers in the program, this is a more conservative take on the digital experience. However, the sentiment that it is easier to open up in the digital world the better you know people was shared.
Question 3: What can you do to foster constructive communication both online and in face-to-face interactions?
The program especially helped me see how I can approach dialogues and discussions in different ways be they online or in real life. If I learned anything from experience, it is that the best way to foster communication is to be open to listening - and not just listening in order to respond, but rather listening to understand. We live in a world full of billions of people with billions of opinions, so to have any sort of productive conversation with any of them, you have to be open to the idea of different perspectives and ways of thinking. As it follows, this entails listening to others’ opinions without judgement.
Another way to foster constructive communication besides being open to listening to new ideas is to genuinely consider arguments against what you believe and to conduct the following discussion in a manner that does not antagonize anyone. You do not necessarily have to keep your feelings out of it, but you need to treat others with due respect when it comes their turn to share their views.