It is often said that the advancement of technology will have a dehumanising effect on the world. However, from my experience in this unit, I have realised how wrong that statement is. The digital decade has attributed to the manifestation of connectivity in ways that was previously not possible. Far from preventing expression, technology has enhanced and enabled our individuality and continues to promote endless opportunities for users. This unit has allowed me to reflect on my digital footprint and how this will help me build not only my digital presence, but allow and assist in possible employ-ability in the future.
From The Beginning
Preparing my very first blog post was extremely daunting. I was a virgin to blog writing, however made the conscious call to engage in a subject matter that I was familiar with, that being digital natives. I never quite understood the importance the web had on education until the development of my first blog post. Bennett, Maton, & Kervin (2008) explore the significant involvement sophisticated technical skills and learning preferences have on technology immersed individuals, thus encouraging active learning. If it wasn’t intimidating enough to create my own blog, I was now pleaded to share this with the units online Facebook group. The notion of putting up a ”perfect” blog post played heavily on my mind, what will people think? is it good enough? After seeing several students post their first blog, I felt obliged to do the same as I was certain others felt a similar way. Wenger (2009) explores the social theory of rethinking learning and expresses how ‘individual learning can be engaged by contributing to the practices of their communities’. I tend to agree with this theory as I received several feedback comments from fellow students that engaged with my blog post and provided constructive responses which further allowed me to develop my online presence.
The Evolution of My Blog Space
From Privacy to cyber bullying to housing affordability, these topics all contributed to my active involvement with my online community. Completion of every blog was followed by a Facebook post. It became second nature, which in turn, I found extremely helpful in gaining ideas and momentum in the pursuit to better my writing and literature findings. Agrifoglio (2015) recognises a community of practice as an effective source for information sharing and enables members to speak freely in a spontaneous way. However, Agrifoglio also identifies a community of practice a ‘self-organising system, whose methods of rules and interactions have no time span and are determined by community members’. Hence, It could be argued whether the units Facebook group was a community of practice as deadlines for assignments needed to be met and individuals may have posted out of obligation rather than a creative social interaction purpose. Nonetheless, the Facebook group for me personally was utilised to gain insightful engagement with peers to positively evolve my already existing cyber knowledge.
The unit Living, Learning & Working on the Web has introduced me to a diverse range of contemporary social issues, which have challenged my initial way of thinking. The argument behind online privacy was an eyeopener to the lack of online protection for social media users. I expressed my concerns in my second blog (Do we prefer convenience over privacy?) and advocate the importance for SNS (social networking site) users to understand information that is posted to social media sites can be accessible well after the post is removed. In spite of the issues of online privacy being a problem for SNS users for a long time, Piirsalu (2012) confirms privacy concerns continue to grow rapidly due to high penetration of smartphones particularly, the accessibility of photo and video creation and sharing opportunities. Not only did I learn about security and privacy concerns on the web through my own research, but with the convenience of reading my peers blog posts through the Facebook group allowed for greater disbursement of additional information that I was previously not privy to.
Being in my third year of University, I have had my fair share of group work assignments. It could be described amongst many Uni students that collaborative assignments are the ‘pits of hell’ with many students never agreeing wholeheartedly with other group members whether that being decision making or effective collaboration and participation. However, I can positively say I was delighted to work with such motivated and enthusiastic individuals on the contemporary issue of stamp duty and housing affordability. We collaboratively decided to create a video campaign #stampoffduty, identifying the potential the overpriced compulsory tax on housing has on the overall affordability in the property market. In reflection, the diversity of group members played a large role in the establishment of our campaign. Experience, age and employment effectively was the foundation for insightful ideas and creation. Thus, supported by Bransford et al., 2000 explanation to how the use of cooperative learning in groups is planted on the specific attention social interaction has on learning through building own knowledge, connecting new ideas and experiences to existing knowledge to form new or enhanced understanding.
This unit has effectively developed my understanding of cyber activity and the role we as users play in the ability to make a difference in society. Becoming aware of our online presence is still a relatively premature concept for me that I am slowly becoming accustomed to as I continue my day-to-day web based interests. I am able to recognise the level of connectivity the internet provides in terms of employ-ability. Arruda (2013) explained to Forbes magazine the importance of LinkedIn as an essential branding tool. ‘It has never been more important to build and maintain a stellar LinkedIn profile. The virtual professional network has morphed from an online resume and networking site to a comprehensive personal branding resource”. Personally, LinkedIn provides one of the best opportunities to increase your visibility and credibility for future employers. It also lets you stay connected to large networks and contacts that have an insight introduction to the person you are in the real and working world.
As previously mentioned, it is imperative users are aware of their online presence. Stalking, identity theft, personal attacks, misuse of information are some of the threats social media users face. It is often recognised, that users themselves are at fault as they end up sharing content that should not be in the public eye. There’s also an element of ignorance involved arising from a lack of understanding of what private and public profiles are supposed to do. During this learning period, I have heightened my privacy settings and paying close attention to suspicious sites, links or emails that could potential corrupt my personal information.
Blogging In The Future
It has become apparent through this unit that blogs are a great tool for learning. Blogging has assisted in the improvement of my writing ability, especially developing my skills in analysis and critique. Blog platforms allow for inclusion and a collaborative style of feedback and responses. Essentially, blogs have been a place for reflection on readings, much similar to a journal style of writing that I have enjoyed developing over the semester. In my own blogging, it became clear early on that I was writing for an audience, however few took an interest, it still required greater care in my writing. Writing a blog comes with the downside that what you write, is accompanied by the possibility that others may disagree with what you have written.
I am still unsure if I will continue blogging, perhaps in a more informal way of collecting my experiences with travel to keep a diary of sort to reflect back on when time has passed. I am thankful for the opportunity blogging has presented to me and the confidence I have developed through this online journey. I am hopeful I can continue a positive approach when it comes to my online presence and discontinue the backseat stance I formally took in apprehension to voice my opinion. This is not a farewell to blogging, but a possible see you soon.