Thursday, December 11, 2014

Go Big Read- Extra Credit

          The Go Big Read event I attended was a UW-Madison students speaking out event inspired by the book I am Malala.  I went to Vilas Hall last week on Wednesday, December 3, 2014. It was a forum led by students taking an honors Comm-A class. At the beginning of the event, the professor of the students taking the Comm-A class explained Malala’s story. He began by explaining how there is a lot of injustice done in the Middle East, and although it is dangerous for people to speak out against certain powerful groups in these areas, people like Malala and her father do anyway. He gave a quick summary of her story, including how she revealed herself to the Taliban and was then shot in the head.  After surviving and working to rebuild her strength, she came into contact with a girl who had to use tally marks to do business because she didn’t know how to count. At that moment, Malala realized what she wanted her mission to be, to educate the non-educated girls.  Then, the professor asked us to think of events that have happened in our lives that have led us to a new perspective and inspired us to find the war that we’re going to fight.  He then informed us that students taking his class would present their prepared speeches and would tell their stories and what causes they wanted to promote.
            The first speaker spoke about water scarcity and wanted to call attention to how we take water for granted here in the United States.  He explained how water scarcity is caused by growth, overpopulation, misuse, and pollution. He realized the importance of this issue when traveling in Costa Rica where people were very conscious of how much water they use.  The second speaker was a boy who wanted to discuss the effects of anti-bullying programs.  He became interested in this topic after finding out about the suicide of Tyler Clemency, a boy with a lot of potential who had committed suicide after a video of him having relations with another boy was released. There was another speaker that wanted to promote the railroad system and another speaker that wanted to teach people how to avoid sleep deprivation.
            There were a few more speakers, but my favorite speaker was the fifth speaker who talked about the “R word”.  She wants to diminish discrimination against developmental disorders, and she believes a good place to start is by making people aware of how offensive throwing around the word “retarded” can be.  She feels mental retardation is not a subject to be taken lightly and that people’s careless and offensive use of this word should not be taken lightly either.  She talks about how most people use the word ignorantly, claiming to mean no harm.  However, after it’s been used, she believes it’s too late and the damage has already been done.  A label once used to respectfully describe people with developmental disorders has evolved into a dehumanizing word.  I loved this speech because I have noticed with my own friends and peers that many people lack knowledge of how much the word hurts.  It seems that the word can catch on pretty easily and that it spreads through a chain reaction of ignorance.

            Overall I thought this was a really cool event that put a creative twist on a regular book discussion.

This is a photo of the boy that talked about sleep deprivation.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Hybrid Post- Sofia Corelli

I am in an online class here at UW Madison, but it has other components than just the online section. First off, we are allowed to meet with our TA or Professor in-person whenever we need, which is their attempt to make it similar to an in-person course. Also, we had an end of the year group project that we had to complete with several in-person meetings. This was interesting because it directly connected our online podcasts to in-person group collaboration, much like LIS 201 does by having both online blogs and in-person discussion meetings. LIS 201, in my opinion, offers much more than my online class does, because even though there is an online component to this class, I feel that everything is very connected and there is no clear separation between the online and in-person components. The only thing that I felt could have connected more to the online component of this class was the readings. Although the readings really did affect our discussion sections, they didn't really connect too much to our weekly blog posts. After this class, I definitely feel a lot more comfortable with Wikis and Blogs. Before this class, I had never had to use either before, and now I see the great benefits of using them. It makes me feel more connected with my classmates. I think it would be a great idea for instructors at UW to use these components more in their classes because of this. The course readings definitely connected to my own personal technological life. It opened my eyes to things going on around me in the information society and how I play a part in all of it. Theses course readings are so relevant to our lives' today that I could definitely see them being used in tons of courses offered here, but they are most relevant to a course on the topic of the information society, such as this one.

Over the Weekend- Hybrid Courses

I had never heard of “hybrid/blended” courses until taking this course.  When I Google searched hybrid courses, I was surprised to see how many universities have these types of classes. Although their heavy emphasis on web interaction didn’t immediately sound very appealing to me, after reading more about them, I could see how they would be great for certain people.  A lot of the hybrid classes I found varied in structure, but I believe they are generally pretty accommodating to working professionals and people with limiting schedules.  Without as much face-to-face class occurring a specific time and location, the educational classes allow for much more flexibility.  I would say the hybrid classes differ from our course in that there are online lectures and that more communication occurs online.  Both LIS 201 and the hybrid courses provide students the opportunity to build their online communication skills, which is very important in today’s society.  At the beginning of the semester, I was a little overwhelmed by the amount of online assignments, but with experience, it became much easier to manage everything.  I’m happy I chose this class to fulfill my Comm-B requirement because it forced me to try new types of writing across various formats and to practice my speaking skills.  I thought there was a good balance between online and in person involvement required in the class.  I liked that we had a blog and the wiki for our discussion section so that we could look at our classmates’ work and leave comments on our own time.  Through the online medium, we had as much time as we wanted and could use whatever resources we wanted in order to write posts, peer edit, and comment on other people’s posts.  However, I also appreciated the in-person portions of class because every week, we came to lecture and discussion with a lot of questions.  It was much easier for the professor and TAs to explain concepts and projects in person than to answer many individual emails.  For me, it feels important to actually attend class because then it’s less likely for me to fall behind and get lost in the material.  Overall, I liked the structure and purpose of this class. I put a lot of work into it, and I think I got a lot out of it.  Most of my other classes don’t focus on integrating new technology and new programs into the material we are learning, and I think the articles and projects all worked together cohesively.  I’m glad I learned more about the “Information Society” because it plays a big role in my life as a student and looking to the future, it’s clear that technology and the Internet will continue to grow.

Hybrid courses

When I googled "hybrid courses" there were a lot of results for classes similar to LIS 201. Many other universities offered such classes, and in addition, UW Madison has similar courses. I have taken a few courses before LIS 201 that followed this blended structure as well. A few journalism, english and communication arts classes that I have taken have had a lecture, discussion and online portion to the class.
I think my experience with the online portion connected a little to the conversations and in-person portions. I don't think it had a significant effect on my education of the subject matter. Although I got to engage in the course material in a different medium, I think the physical is very different from the virtual world. I think that face-to-face interactions are still more beneficial. When you're expressing something online it can be tough to come off genuine and really get your message across.
I don't think that UW courses should greatly increase online components. As I said earlier, the face-to-face interactions is still the most efficient in getting to know your classmates and getting your point across.
As for the substantive material in this course, I think it did provide a nice supplement to the lecture topics. A lot of the readings (although long) were quite interesting and eye opening. It's intriguing to learn about what really is going on when you're searching the web or throwing out an old phone. However, I don't feel as though the online activities that went along with these readings really related to each other all that much.

Hybrid Courses

As I searched the web for other hybrid courses in higher education, I came across lots of schools that implement hybrid courses. Among those schools were UW Milwaukee and UC San Diego. The hybrid courses offered at UWM seemed interesting just by looking at the names of the courses and descriptions. At UCSD, there are 29 hybrid courses being offered now, they typically split face-to-face interaction and online interaction quite evenly. The hybrid style of classes at UCSD relates most to our class in the sense that the time we also split our class time quite evenly between face-to-face interaction and our online presence.
My experience with LIS 201 has been interesting because this has been the first course I take that greatly puts an emphasis on online communities while still having valuable face-to-face conversations. I think the material we learned in class went hand in hand with what we were to do online. Our discussion section also went hand in hand with he online component of our class. We would discuss whatever we did online in discussion and even went in deeper at times. However, I think I was a more effective student in the virtual world. I voiced my opinions and thoughts more online than I did in class. I think this occurred because the space online is infinite and there is no time limits, so I was able to really talk about things in depth. I think we would enjoy our courses more if professors here incorporated online components to their courses.
The material that we learned in this course brought a whole new perspective in both my online experiences and my personal life. I feel that now, I am more aware of what goes on in our information society. I tend to think about people's interaction with technology more and how a lot of them don't realize the process and impact their devices have on our society. Even while looking at a website I analyze the workings of it and end up relating it to information that we learned in this course.

Hybrid courses

Through this weekend's blog assignment, I realized that LIS 201 is the first hybrid/blended class I have ever taken before. I researched about other hybrid classes other than this class, and I found other blended classes in both University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and University of Texas. I think their hybrid classes are very similar to our class but the proportion and timing of online vs. face-to-face time looks significantly varies based on the goals and work requirements of the program. The class I took, "Information Society" I think has relatively have the same proportion for each: in-person lecture, in-person discussion section, and online activity and writing.
In this class, I think the online portions successfully were connected with the in-person lecture and discussion section because students' online writings were all about materials that we learned from the lecture and we discussed with the same material in the discussion section. Personally for me, I was a more effective student in the virtual world because I am used to express myself in English with enough preparation not just impetuously. I was in a great hesitation when I discussed face-to-face but I felt very comfortable when I could write my thoughts on the blog. However, for other fellow students, I could get to know them through both online and physical world because I could see the different aspects of them. They were not exactly the same person in online and the discussion class. For example, some poeple were more active in discussion section, and some people were more logical online. Online resources are always very useful and easy to access not only for this class but also for other classes; classes using online are increasing. Some people might be cautious about this phenomenon, but I am glad with this because I am alreay so familiar with using online resources and aware that how this system makes me convenient.
Since I have possessed my own computer and cell phone, I did not abstein from uncontrollably using those devices, but after undergoing assignments from this class, I learned that this convenience is not somthing that I was naturally given and there must be some control for imposing those technologies.

Hybrid Coursework Over the weekend

When i first searched hybrid course on google, the first couple hits that came up were the numerous hybrid courses they offer at UW-Milwaukee. I was extremely surprised by this, and slightly confused on whether it was more extensive program and they were one of the only schools that offered them frequently, or that google recognized that i went to a UW school and lead me to that page. After skimming a couple of the UW-Milwaukee pages, i recognized the focus they were putting on the importance of integrating the advantages of online learning in addition to face-to-face. After, i noticed a UW-Madison link a couple hits down, leading me to the engineering schools approach at hybrid learning, which focused more on the importance of have computer and technology software knowledge, rather than the advantages of hybrid learning to supplement classwork. I feel that LIS 201 is in most ways more similar to that of the engineering school rather than the hybrid classes of UWM, because our online work teaches us to use the technologies we have access to, rather than forcing us to learn much of our coursework on our own, outside of class. Generally, our online portions of class connected to the lectures, but instead of forcing us to do our learning online, we were able to gain a deeper understand of how we use the capabilities of our networks and use it to connect to our classmates.
Going into this class, i had very little understanding of what type of blogger i would be, and to be honest i was a little uncomfortable with the idea of posting blogs weekly for my classmates to read them. However, over the course of the semester, blogging allowed me to learn more about myself not only as a "writer" but as a networker with classmates. While i enjoyed writing my thoughts out, and being able to think through them more carefully before allowing anyone to read them, i think there was a much deeper connection with my classmates through face to face discussions. Commenting on others blog posts forced me to read them, which was extremely insightful, i never remembered who's post i read each week, and i never went back and read through the comments people left me. There was a large gap in connections between classmates online.
While i agree much of online coursework is extremely beneficial in classes such as LIS 201, there also also many classes where an increase in online work would degrade the ability of information to be learned. Yet overall,  I throughly enjoyed blogging and the benefits of the hybrid coursework for this class, and i wish some other english classes adopted these ideas for certain interpretations and sharing of connection between classmates.