This course was nothing like I was expecting it to be when I enrolled. My knowledge and use of technology and social media was fairly limited and I believe it still is. Although I did learn the importance of these things I don’t think I am any more capable of using them now. I did learn about blogging, this was completely new to me and I’m still not totally sure if I’m doing it right or even how to navigate the WordPress site efficiently but with time I think I would feel more comfortable. I’ve never been fond of writing so this was definitely a struggle for me. I tried to use a tone of voice that was conversation-like but I think out of habit I tended to write in more of an academic voice. Maybe, if I was discussing a topic that I was more interested in or had passion about it would come more naturally but who knows! I did enjoy discovering blogs to read that sparked my interest. There are so many out there that are written so well. I did started following Humans of New York on my personal Instagram page and really enjoy reading the posts. So I guess in the end, the class did widen my horizon of what is available on social media.
I definitely was not expecting to meet in Secondlife every week. For past online classes we got our assignments online through the course site and completed them by a deadline. The instructor may have prerecorded a lecture that we could watch at our own convenience but there was never a scheduled meeting time like for this course. Personally, I don’t think that meeting in Secondlife benefitted my learning at all. I learned more from reading the articles and then reading other students posts on their blogs to understand the information further. I did enjoy going to visit the island with the group of people with disabilities and hearing them speak. As a nursing student I was interested in hearing how the virtual world helps them to do things they cant in the real life. Most importantly though I think the best part of Secondlife for these people is the support that it provides. Through it they are able to talk and distract them selves from real world problems.
The group project was the most stressful part of the course for me. It was great that we were able to work with students from DIT; this was the first and probably the last time I’ll have an opportunity to work with students from another country, even if it was virtually. This was beneficial in the aspect of teaching us to overcome barriers whether it be time or lack of resources. However, it was hard in the beginning because the project was very vague. My group members and I weren’t really sure what we were supposed to be doing; all we knew was we were supposed to pick a charity to support. It took us a long time to figure out how we wanted to communicate and to get everyone on the same page. Once we established the Facebook page it seemed to become a little easier to communicate but the problem with this was that you didn’t always get a quick response when it may have been needed. Looking back on it I still think it was the best form of communication we could have used. Towards the end of the semester the project became extremely stressful to me because it was always in the back of my mind but I had work for other classes that took priority. In the last week before we were to present our project, it started to come together and everyone was pitching into our sites. The actual Pecha Kucha presentation was wasn’t difficult to make, the hard part was figuring out how to get it to work in Secondlife. Two or three of the presentation boards weren’t working so it took multiple tries to get it to finally work. This was stressful because the night before we were supposed to present, the slides were not advancing and none of my group members could figure it out. The day of the presentation our instructor helped us and it all worked out well. Overall, it was a decent course but I found that I would much rather attend a class in person.
It has become evident that social media is playing a huge role in the lives of some people who are using it. This could be due to but most often it seems to be claimed as a mistake. People are not thinking of what they are posting before they do. Before you post you have to take into account not just how you are thinking of it but how everyone else that sees it will think of it. Text is extremely easy to interpret different ways especially if there is incorrect grammar or punctuation. What you may think is a seemingly harmless comment may be offensive or derogatory to someone else. This is why personally I tend to not like to post on social media (this and the fact that I don’t really have anything that interesting to say!). Even pictures can be dangerous. You may not have been drinking belligerently at the party you attended but viewers don’t know that and they will most likely assume that because you’re in a bar surrounded by other intoxicated people you were too. It’s easy for people to pass judgment and make assumptions about the things you post. A perfect example is the Tweet that Dr. Phil put out that was intended to be a poll question about if it is okay to have sex with a girl that is drunk. It was taken entirely wrong by his followers and really enraged people. Although there were not serious consequences for him, I’m sure he lost some fans and followers for it. The article How to ‘clean up” Online tells how Britain’s first youth police commissioner resigned because of Tweets she had posted when she was a young teenager. Now the morality of this can be argued however whether you like it or not these things are happening. The article then proceeds to give you ways to “clean up” your profiles online since employers are looking at your social media accounts before hiring now. And finally, the story of how Justine Sacco lost her job over a careless Tweet just goes to show how important it is that we think before we post. As the article says, although she may be a good person, this is completely overlooked based on a poor decision.
After thinking about this concept for the past couple of weeks now, I think I am finally understanding what it really means and this is thanks to rereading the blog about Marshall McLuhan’s theory. I think what made it click was the author’s example of the picture of the family at the dinner table and discussing why is it important if the picture is painted or drawn or photographed. I now realize that the medium DOES matter, it can either enhance or take away the from message that is trying to be conveyed. In class we discussed the use of the smart phone and how it is basically ruining human to human interactions and contact. I strongly agree with this. I think that a text message is impersonal, it can not portray the full effect that the message may have. A visit or a phone call even is more personal and thoughtful. In the fast paced world we live in today all that matters is efficiency, no one stops and takes the time to write letters and mail them or stop and make visits to friends and family we may have lost touch with; we send a text message. It is sad really how much of our lives are consumes by technology. Although I do love it and use it just as much as the next person, it is debilitating our relationships in some ways. Now, this is the negative side of the story but there is also a positive side. For example, in SecondLife, people with disabilities and handicaps are able to do things they may not be able to in real life which is fantastic. And again, after rereading the blog mentioned earlier, I realize that the medium we are using to convey messages are so important, equally as important as how we portray the message. Although I didn’t believe before that these technologies (these mediums) were an extension of myself, I see now that they are because they changed how I view the world, they are not just tools as virtualworldnmfsfall11 stated in the blog. Overall, the medium we choose to express a message is fundamental to how the message will be perceived.
I have found that time zones make communicating very difficult especially since we have had our daylight savings time and Dublin has not. This resulted in a miscommunication about our class meeting time however it was resolved; the time of our meeting had to be adjusted until Dublin has their daylight savings but it will work for now! It’s also difficult because our school breaks are different so it’s not only the time difference that is a struggle it is simply being at different school that is a challenge as well. The University of Akron had our break the week before last and Dublin is on break now so our schedules are all messed up and our group is definitely having a hard time adjusting and finding time to talk all together. We now have planned a time to meet so we can get organized and really start on this project which is like a weight off my shoulders! So although it is difficult and it probably will continue to be, we are working through it one day at a time!
Attempting to communicate across different time zones is teaching me some valuable lessons though. I am really understanding the importance of communicating efficiently and effectively. It is hard when our conversations are not flowing smoothly on Facebook because we cannot all be there at the same time. So, in order to get the most out of our short time talking we must express our thoughts and ideas as clearly as possible so no time is wasted trying to decode what was said. It is showing me how much we take for granted using voice and communicating face to face with one another. Also I am learning to use my time effectively when we are able to meet. As important as communication is, using our time effectively and not getting side tracked key to having a successful meeting. Finally, the necessity of a leader in the group is apparent, so this project is allowing me to step up and try to lead my group as well as be a team player and support the other members. Just as group work face to face, virtual group work also requires communication and collaboration, there are just a few more challenges we have to overcome!
Our group has been working together fairly well. We had set a time on Monday evenings to meet through our Facebook group message to discuss the project but that doesn’t work for a member any more so we will be meeting on Wednesday’s now. We have decided to spread awareness about a cause related to mental health. We are all still researching various organizations and charities separately to find one that we all like and could support. The groupchat on Facebook seems to be working very nicely in terms of communication because it is checked fairly often by everyone and I at least can use it as a text message sort of deal which is very convenient. One member of the group was unaccessible for a period of time but we have gotten in contact with him now and everything seems to be taking off in the right direction. Finding a charity is a struggle since there are so many to look at and consider. It is a bit overwhelming and stressful actually to have to research so many different options. I think it would be best for each of us to find a couple we really like in order to narrow it down then choose from those ones, otherwise it will take a while to find one we all agree on. So far, I think the project is slowly but surely making progress however it is still all up in the air in terms of details and a set plan.
Licensing is a completely new topic for me that I have zero knowledge of. That makes this topic and the reading slightly difficult for me to understand and enjoy. Business and law and all of those sorts of topic are not my strong suit and I definitely have to work and think extra hard about them in order for them to make sense. However, the blog by Shenlei Winkler was fairly easy to understand. I think her idea of having a legal template that creators can use is the best possible solution. This allows creators to license their content accurately and effectively. They still may need legal counsel for extra help but by using a template it will eliminate many mistake if they don’t have a lawyers help.
In the paper on law in virtual worlds, they argue that law is important in the virtual world for many reasons. One being that issues and problems that arise in the virtual world are similar to problems in the real world or they will be problems in the future. They also argue that the virtual world is not that different from the real world by using the example that brands exist even in the virtual world such as Nike. They cost extra and although it is not a real material thing, it still costs money and it is seen as valuable, similar to the virtual world. Even though it is not real it can still have value. Another point that is argued is that the challenges in the virtual world can benefit lawyers and law-makers in the real world. Overall, it is argued that since time and effort is put into the virtual world by tons of people it should be valued and in order to this copyrights need to be applied.
My group has had some difficullties contacting each other. I have been in contact with two of the other three members of the group but have not heard anything from the third. I created a Facebook group that two of us are in so it would be easier to contact each other and I have talked to both of them in SecondLife. I beleive we decided either nights or weekends were best to get together to work on the project but it is difficult to plan without being able to communicate with everyone. It seems that we are still working on getting things set about communication but we should be better by class next week!
After class today I did some exploring and found a place called The Cabana. It was a dance club and there were actually quite a few people there. I was welcomed right away by the owner/manager of the club who was very friendly, as was everyone else there. They all were eager to help and answer any questions I had. I told them I was new to SecondLife and was looking for different places to visit but they didn’t seem to want me to leave or visit anywhere else. It seemed they REALLY love their destination and want everyone else to as well. Through observing their chat I could tell that they were a close community who knew each other well and interacted often. One person asked me to dance and showed me how and it was very funny to see the avatar move in the different forms of dancing that were available. It was a very relaxed, active place that I would recommend visiting and would go back to in the future!
I also visited the VKC Dog Park since I was interested after reading a friend’s blog. It was very cool! There were all different breeds of dogs that you could pet. There were only a few people there but I chatted with a person that worked in the park for a little while. Although nice, she was not very talkative and really only responded when I asked a question. I had noticed a penguin and a polar bear in the park that I thought were interesting so I asked her about them and she said you can adopt them but they are seasonal. She also mentioned other parks that they have but otherwise did not say much else. In the beginning of the conversation she said her job is to help customers with any problems they are having with their pets and answer any questions they might have. This would be the kind of virtual job for me, spending all day with dogs!
There are is a very diverse group of people in the virtual world that I was just able to get a glimpse of on my exploring and I look forward to meeting many for people!
I was not able to explore SecondLife with my group but I did some exploring on my own. Since I am not familiar with SecdondLife at all I wasn’t really sure where to start or what places were even available to visit so I looked at some of my fellow classmates blogs for some ideas. They turned out to be very helpful!
The first place I visited was Prehistorica, a land of dinosaurs. It was much like I had expected with a lot of trees, overgrowth and tall rocks which made it a little difficult to walk around. When you first teleport you come to the welcome center type place and from there you go through a time traveling portal which I thought was a really neat idea. It’s different and made the visit interesting. After arriving in the Jurassic era it took a little but to find a dinosaur but when I did it was very cool! Even though you can’t interact with them observing is neat; they look so real!
The second place I visited was Miami beach which seemed to be a popular spot based on my peer’s reviews. Unfortunately there was no one else there but the island looked like a good place to hang out and meet people during the day time. It was dark so I am assuming it was night time when I visited. The ocean was pretty with the moon hitting it and with the waves crashing up against the rocks. There were little tiki huts and what looked like a dance club that could be a fun place to visit in the future. The campfire was a nice touch that added a real summer time, vacation like feel to it also. I’ve always loved the beach so this was an interesting place for me to visit virtually.
The third place I visited was New York City, I’ve always wanted to go there in real life so I guess virtually is the next best thing! It was a beautiful day there with blue skies and the sun shining, I was having technical difficulties walking, it wouldn’t let me move at all which made exploring a little difficult but it started working eventually. Walking around I saw a lot of details which made it feel very realistic for example the taxis, streetlights, walk/don’t walk signs, trees, benches, storefronts, etc. Again, there were no people around and it would have been nice to have someone to converse with but maybe next time!
In Second Life this week I explored Dublin, Ireland with another student after our class. I noticed that students from Dublin kept mentioning something called “Fibbers”. I was unaware of what it was and had come to find out that it was a pub in Dublin, so I went to visit. Dublin was completely different than Akron Island (the only place in Second Life I had been to so far)! It looked like a real city with streets, buildings and shops. I walked around to explore the different streets, and eventually found the pub and saw that some other students from our class were there as well. There were tables, a bar, music, it was just like real life. It would be a good place to just sit down and get to know some of my fellow peers in a relaxed, fun setting. I would like to go back sometime and see some of the other buildings they have there!