Without the Internet there would be no online graduate students, so it is not surprising that that we embrace emerging technologies. How then do we use emerging technologies to build our community and share information?
Obviously, this blog is one way that we build community. We are building our community through sharing our thoughts and comments about our chosen information communities.
According to Michael Stephens (2014), one of the designers of this course, the purpose of these blogs is to move us out of “discussion forums, landlocked inside the learning management system” (Turning on section, para. 1). No longer are our ideas hidden from the world, but we are able to share our thoughts with everyone. Yet, I would expect most people who read these blogs are either in our section of LIBR 200 or our professor. I enjoy reading different people’s posts every two weeks and over the whole entire course I have read at least one post by everyone. For myself it does make be feel more connected to, you, my classmates. Although, I have to admit as we get deeper into the semester my motivation is slipping, as my thoughts are moving towards my final projects for the semester.
My interviews with other online graduate students indicate that they do not enjoy posting and responding on discussion boards as I have on these blogs. One felt like it was too academic and nothing of real value was actually discussed, while another interviewee said that she wrote on the discussion boards “because I had, too” not because she wanted, too (J. Richardson, personal communication, November 19, 2014, K. Yaiko, personal communication, October 6, 2014). She did not feel like the discussion boards helped her feel connected to her classmates, professors, or institution. Instead, particularly for a hybrid program she took that was part online and part in class, she felt like live online meetings was where she connected with classmates (J. Richardson, personal communication, November 19, 2014).
I wonder if it is the blogging platform versus discussion boards that helped me feel more connected to you than my interviewees? Perhaps, the medium has helped me to open and reflect more? Stephens (2014) says that blogging “foster[s] critical reflection in a safe thinking-out-loud space” (Turning on section, para. 1).
This maybe the case, but I expect that there is more to it than that. Early on in the course I read that for online students to be successfully, that we need to feel connection with our peers, professors, and institution (Park, Perry, and Edwards 2011). Knowing this has encouraged me to really attempt to connect with my classmates in any way that I could, including through these blogs. Maybe our attitudes towards blogs and discussion boards is what ultimately affects what we get out of them?
Do you feel like these WordPress based blogs has helped us build community in our class? Or do you wish there was some other way for us to connect with one another?
Park, C. L., Perry, B., & Edwards, M. (2011). Minimising attrition: Strategies for assisting students who are at risk of withdrawal. Innovations in Education & Teaching International, 48(1), 37-47. doi:10.1080/14703297.2010.543769
Stephens, M. (2014, July 11). Flipping the LIS classroom. Library Journal. Retrieved from http://lj.libraryjournal.com/2014/07/opinion/michael-stephens/flipping-the-lis-classroom-office-hours/#_