Category Archives: INTE5340

A Final Course Reflection & Portfolio for INTE4530/ILT5340

My Portfolio

At the end of this course, I have many final thoughts. I am amazed at how much I learned and grew in an engaging course with a very interesting format. The weekly reflective summaries I composed each week illustrate my progress as a student and storyteller. By choosing my own path and collaborating with my peers, I experienced the most effective learning I’ve ever encountered.

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Me as a learner in this course: Of all the skills and knowledge I acquired through this course, an awareness of my abilities as a learner stands out. I jumped right in and learned by doing assignments of my choice (with some guidelines), reading and reflecting on the weekly readings, and (above all else) communicating with others. The readings from Lankshear & Knobel provided an invaluable source of theory behind the learning and creative processes. These text taught me (among many things) the necessary components to effective learning: initiative (DIY), individual choice, flexibility, and (above all else) collaboration. Based on these readings, it is more apparent than ever that the traditional “brick and mortar” format of education is not meeting the needs of a changing society. Technology allows us greater capabilities for expression, communication, learning, and empowerment. In short, we need an educational system that recognizes these traits and embodies the communicative and collaborative nature of effective learning. The concept of “remixing” and the idea of “authorship/ownership” also proved very enlightening. It further demonstrates that almost everything, in a sense, is collaborative.  In future courses I take as a graduate student, I will consistently seek out opportunities to collaborate and exchange information with my class (even when it isn’t required).

My co-design of this course: This course was unlike any other I’ve ever had. Prior to this term, I had never heard of DS106. I had experience with online classes, but they were never in the open and accessible to all users. Also, I had never been expected to use so much social media. I do, however, feel extremely grateful for being required to use outlets like Hypothes.is and Twitter. These tools improved my understanding by interacting with other students (and sometimes people who weren’t even in my class). Like everyone else, I contributed work and insight that inevitably contained my own unique perspective. Even though there might have been other librarians with similar skill sets, mine and everyone else’s input improved the experience across the board. By annotating weekly readings, I entered extremely helpful dialogues that expanded my understanding. I am certain that my comments helped others too. By creating and reviewing the creations of others, I am confident that I made valuable contributions to my peers. In all honesty, the only thing I would have changed about this course is to make it completely in the open. This, of course, isn’t possible due to the requirements of higher education institutions. Otherwise, no changes (dare to dream).

My understanding of pedagogy: Taking this course over summer term was painful but rewarding. My instructors were forced to cram a semester’s worth of content into 8 short weeks. As the result, I spent nearly every free moment I had on coursework. To be fair, I was warned about the workload at the outset, but I also recently started a new job and have been getting acclimated. I learned a valuable lesson about not “biting off more than I can chew”.

My understanding of pedagogy transformed in many ways. Above all else, I learned the importance of collaboration and communication (as previously mentioned) and that our education system needs to change to address the ways in which technology has transformed society. As a librarian, I strive to include a hands-on group activity in every class I teach. Prior to this course, however, I never understood how crucial this was. We are all both instructors and students with invaluable contributions to provide. In more individualized assignments, I learned the importance of allowing the learner to take charge of their education using assignment choice and other personalized options.  Effective learning is, much like human nature, collaborative and expressive to benefit everyone.

Brace Yourself: Week 7 Reflective Summary

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This post will be the last of my weekly reflective summaries. Next week I will be posting a much longer reflection, but it will focus on the entire course rather than just a 7 day increment. I am very excited at the prospect, but am slightly disappointed to be ending my current (weekly) narratives. I love to write and will continue to do so, but the format/content will change as things often do.

With that being said, let’s jump into my Week 7 summary! Over the past several days, I am pleased to say that I was able to maintain my high-level of momentum. The assignments were challenging, fun, and instrumental in my development as a digital storyteller. In some cases such as my Daily Creates, I was able to further solidify my literacies and skills. I have become quite proficient at editing photos in numerous programs and software. My DS106 Assignment was especially rewarding because I opted to use Photoshop-a tool with which my familiarity can only be described as “on the surface”. It was a seemingly easy assignment, but I went out of my way to challenge myself (pulling not pushing)!

The reading response and digital story critique proved to be challenging in that I was very aware that this is the last week before final projects. In other words, I knew I only had one more “weekly” chance and wanted to make the most of the opportunity. My previous reading responses were (admittedly) very long which caused me to feel a small degree of self-consciousness. I am happy with them, but was worried that I had been rambling and often spent time meditating on how to make them even better. This week I reminded myself that I am not obligated to include EVERY SINGLE suggested reading and that a well-written post on one assigned article is usually better than a mediocre/poor one on several texts.

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I am pleased to say that I kept my promise to explore new formats in my digital story critique. The only issue I’ve had with these exercises is that finding a piece relevant to “Libraries and Librarianship” always proves challenging . But isn’t that part of the fun? Also, I previously had the tendency to select pieces I happened to “like” as opposed to anything I could find. By selecting a piece of lower quality, I taught myself a valuable lesson in the importance of not liking everything. Honesty and not holding back are important traits.

As previously stated, I am happy with the quality of my work for the past week. However, I am always aware that room for improvement is a constant presence. The most challenging aspect of this week and previous ones has been maintaining a high level of interaction on Hypothes.is and other social media. I trained myself to check every outlet of mine at least twice a day. Although some days were more active than others, I think I did a pretty good job of communicating and collaborating. Upon seeing the habits of others, however, I realize that practice makes perfect and engaging with your peers is addictive (in the best possible way). My biggest challenge will be to keep a critical eye on my past activity as I complete my portfolio.

These assignments have also continued to introduce new dimensions to my “Libraries and Librarianship” theme (namely Privilege). While I’ve spent extensive amounts of time pondering other relevant topics such as the role of libraries and librarians in developing literacies and the best methodologies for doing so effectively, I never considered the implications of privilege as it relates to library services. Overall, I feel like offering free resources for personal improvement can be instrumental in correcting social inequalities. Just as libraries are repositories of information and help for the public, their potential for empowerment includes countless dimensions.

Self-Assessment: Exceeds expectations. Sometimes I need to give myself more credit.

Stuff I read and what I think about it: Week 7 Reading Response

Stuff I read:

What I think:

I believe this post will be my final reading response. This is not to say that I will not write my reflections on materials I’ve read. Rather, next week’s work will involve completing the final phase of ILT5340 in which we, the students, will be writing and reflecting on our blogs and portfolios. It is a sad day because I like these weekly reading responses very much. Despite my current semi-fatigued state, I am confident that there will be plenty more excitement ahead. I’ve decided to use a much less restricting format for this post in that it will address a specific topic I encountered: privilege.

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Now, let’s get to it. The theme of this weeks response is “fish in water”…no…”narratives and dominance”…no…something else more appropriate. There are sometimes no words to describe such injustice. The bottom line: My readings for this week were very enlightening on issues of privilege and awareness.

It’s a privilege: My main takeaway from reading the McIntosh article on “Privilege” was, simply put, that a lot of what happens to us in life is (unfortunately) due to luck. On a good day, I like to think that my “knapsack” was fairly visible to me as a white male. I grew up in California, was taught the importance of diversity and solidarity (I’d never cross a picket line), and attended a small liberal arts college that prides itself on opening minds via rigorous academic study. I’m also quite good at making excuses for myself!

It seems more apparent than ever that we are definitely not living in a pure meritocracy. I grew up believing that my hard work and moral intentions would take me all the way to my destination and (for obvious reasons of privilege) never thought there might be additional obstacles. However, it is impossible to ignore the hierarchies of race, gender, and class that come into play on a daily basis. For someone who isn’t white, getting stopped by a police officer inspires several (WELL FOUNDED) fears that they are in harm’s way. Women are underrepresented in several professions and are frequently victimized by physical violence and harmful societal expectations. How can I expect a millionaire to understand the inability to pay for college tuition (as another example)? I could go on forever.

The culprits of the social inequalities and dominance via privilege are revealed to be unawareness and defensiveness. A lack of awareness, much like other forms of bias, can run so deep that (being unaware) we often cannot see how it impacts our daily lives. By “unpacking the invisible knapsack”, we are developing cultural literacy. A sharp awareness of privilege and how it affords so many of us ease and currency is required in order to enact change. As for defensiveness, I think McIntosh spelled it out very effectively. People in positions of societal dominance often have a steadfast refusal to admit that some of their success is due to luck. Maybe not all of it, but a good chunk. With more awareness, we as a society would understand that we can and should do something about it!

The seemingly more important question is how to correct this injustice. In other words, what can people in positions of power do to empower the disenfranchised? Antero Garcia’s article provides an excellent accompaniment to the McIntosh piece. There are so many cases in which non-white children follow all the rules and are still met with horrific ends (I could link to about 20-plus articles from the past year, but a simple Google search would be enough for anyone to discover my point). In reading both articles, it seems to be the case that it is the responsibility of people in power to maintain a consistently high level of awareness and motivation for addressing social inequalities. Whether it is establishing a Women’s Studies department or teaching a classroom of inner-city students, we all share this responsibility.

My reading selection, an article on the gender gap in library education, furthered the points addressed by the other authors by providing an example of privilege within a specific profession. Despite being a primarily female area of academic, males tend to receive higher salaries as well as appointments to higher positions. Furthermore, there exists specific areas that are seen as being “for” one or another gender. The fact that these hierarchies exist within such a discipline is certainly a testament to the prevalence of male privilege.

For an EXCELLENT piece of writing on privilege, check this piece out (seriously, you won’t regret it). Kiese Laymon is one of my favorite writers.

Fan-fiction and eye-rolling: Week 7 Digital Story Critique

The very moment I came across the term “fanfiction” in the weekly assigned readings, I felt my eyes rolling due to a combination of an immature, dismissive nature and acerbic sense of humor. I knew I had to confront this type of remix eventually. In fact, I even made a promise to myself last week that I would pick a piece of fan-fiction for this weeks critique.

The very mention of the term conjures up images in my mind of a mildly-obsessive (to put it mildly) fan still living in their parents’ basement with limited outside world contact. I am opening my mind and getting rid of this image as we speak:

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This, of course, is highly inaccurate. Lots of people write fan-fiction! It is becoming an increasingly popular medium. I respect it! Please don’t kill me.

I happened upon this piece from fanfiction.net after searching for “library” (to ensure relevance with my “Libraries and Librarianship” theme). I chose this piece because it was on the longer side compared to so many 500 word options (no thanks). I wanted more meat on my plate. Also, I am a little tired of Harry Potter inspired pieces from working in a library, but this posed an interesting challenge for me: keep an open mind. I think it is fairly safe to assume all my readership is familiar with Harry Potter so I won’t link to the Wikipedia page.

I will admit: I am less than crazy about this piece. It is ridden with grammatical errors and the ending is visible from miles away without having even read it. Nonetheless, it is a remix and warrants a more substantial critique. After looking at the author’s page, I now realize that she hails from Sweden and is writing in her (at least) second language so I feel terrible about taking her to task for spelling and grammatical errors. Shame on me. I’ll do it justice.

Kinds of Involvement: This piece displays all sorts of involvement. Above all else, the author is clearly self-established as a fan of Harry Potter. Endeavoring to create a fan fiction remix inevitably reveals oneself to be at least slightly obsessed with the original work being retooled. It is also apparent that the author enjoyed the series! Based on her page on fanfiction.net, it seems to be the case that Nittedhat is trying to establish herself as an author of Harry Potter fan-fiction (among other topics).

Literacy Dimensions: This author knows her characters and put a lot of stock into the developing relationship between Ron and Hermoine (the library being the most obvious setting for a romantic encounter between them). The plot is very believable and seems like a natural (albeit perverted) extension of the original, expecially at the first mention of Draco Malfoy. That was a surprise twist that came across very effectively. Based on the number of reviews and favorites, it looks like she hasn’t spread this piece around too much and it would be of use to use other social media outlets to get the word out. If she wrote more fan-fiction, it would also be instrumental in establishing her identity. Then again, she hasn’t been very active since 2012 (according to her profile).

The author has a unique voice, and fan-fiction provides an excellent outlet for establishing that voice. Nonetheless, it would improve with more activity.

Going, going, back, back, to basics, basics: DS106 Final Assignment

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I believe this is my final DS106 Assignment: Back to basics. Even if I am wrong, I believe that this one warrants a special title: Oliver learns Photoshop!

Yes, you read me right. I have (poorly) used Photoshop on many occasions. These occasions have been primarily related to library outreach such as flyers, brochures, and classroom handouts on databases and other research tools. In all of these instances, I was working with a template (like a coward) and was not quite ready to venture beyond my comfort zone. Even for the duration of this class, I will admit that I had been avoiding Photoshop. This week, however, I have boldly gone where Oliver has never been before (using split infinitives along the way).

The directions: Pick a photo and create a stencil out of it using Photoshop or another photo editing tool (and make it relevant to my “Libraries and Librarianship” theme.

Like every other posting of mine, I am confident that this one reflects my “voice”. More specifically, it reflects my profession and dumb sense of humor. Did I mention I learned Photoshop?

It was a pretty simple process: Open the photo, remove the color, and voila! Unfortunately, it took me a while to adjust the contrast in order to capture each section of the card catalog appropriately. This is an ornamental card catalog near my desk that (once in a blue moon) someone unfamiliar with online catalogs actually tries to use!

Original photo:

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Stencil:

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This turned out pretty awesome! I will never be afraid of remixing technology again!