What I learned in this course (whether you gained knowledge, skills or attitudes):
If I were to show someone my learning in this course I would show theme:
If I could change 2-3 things about the course to improve it I would change:
In one sentence: What kind of person should take this course?
In this course, you were given opportunities to make choices over what you focused on, and how you presented your learning - what did you think of these opportunities, which ones did you value, which ones were not valuable? Why?
I chose this article as I wanted to see how prevalent the internet and internet services became this year, considering most of us have been confined to our homes with nothing else to do to keep us sane. However what I learned from the article was for less fun and more so terrifying. When one thinks of the internet, they think of it as a wide open space that no one really controls, where people can create what they want and share it. Funnily enough, that's not really the case. The internet is controlled by a handful of companies that monopolise their respective industries. And even when small companies go into the same industry, they often end up using services and api’s that belong to the big companies in the sphere as well. A terrifying thought. Another thing the article showed me that's was just absolutely terrifying was the rate at which fake information is spread out into the world. With all the fact checking tools that are present, one would think there would not be much fake news around, but the exact opposite is true. The rest of the article highlights more data points that show us the dystopia we truly live in in various forms, showing us that the “health” of the internet is not all that great currently.
This aspect of digital literacy was explored very heavily in our class, the idea of the algorithms that govern our usage of the internet being inherently biased or racist, encouraging segregation or sexualisation of minorities. The article gives the argument that due to the individuals who set up the system being “White,cisgendered male, American” the algorithms tend to by default have a better understanding of those attributes, more so than any other attributes. It highlights the inherent racism and patriarchal systems that are place in the digital world, one which is now being used by people of various racial and cultural backgrounds. Age old infrastructures need to adjust to the increasing diversity in the sphere, and this is done through companies employing more diversely, and stepping away from the “default”. That was the main idea I got out of the article personally, or the one that I found most profound.
In the current age we are living in, social media platforms often convey information through algorithms that push things they would be interested in and find worth clicking on. However the workings of these algorithms are often hidden by companies. This wouldn’t be a surprising thing to most people, as why would a company show its competition the inner workings of its algorithms. However this becomes an issue when accountability comes into play. The transparency article in mozilla’s 2020 health report brings about an interesting discussion of responsibility. When facebook groups start spreading fake news and articles throughout the platform to influence the results of an election, or a hate group that spews hateful rhetoric about certain minorites that leads to increased violence against an underrepresented group, what is the responsibility of the company in this case? Does it take down the post? Does it leave them up? Does the company face repercussions? Who dishes out these repercussions? What is transparency to companies? The article goes into great details regarding possible answers to these questions, quoting prominent people in the sphere, however I found the questions to be far more interesting to examine. If a private company has large effects on a public sphere, is the private company liable? Reading the article didn't personally answer to many of the questions for me, however simply posing the questions and thinking about the questions that spawn from them was far more interesting to me.
At the start of me doing the gratitude journal, I simply saw it as just another assignment I had to do for a class. I approached it with the general lack of interest that a student would normally approach an assignment. A “I had a good meal today” here , a “the drive home from uni was not crowded” there and I didnt think too much of it. However as the course went on and I kept doing the gratitude journal, I found that by having a list or a mental notes of the things going on that went well for me in a day, it wound up making certain struggles or bad days seem slightly less awful on reflection. In this semester, the idea of trauma informed teaching and learning was something very prevalent that I found very profound. The covid online university semesters have been very tough for me in regards to work effectiveness and overall mental health and I did not know why that was happening. Through studying Mays Imad’s work I came to understand the mechanisms that were behind this. Understanding this led to me appreciating things such as the gratitude journal, where focusing on the small accomplishments or the positive things that occur in our day to day motivated me to finish other tasks, and not feel too deflated by failures or mistakes I make in the same day.
For the self development reflection, I picked the gratitude journal option. Out of all the options, this one seemed the least analytical to me or intrusive, as it is something simple that required a small amount of introspection on my part each day or so. For this reflection, I'll focus on the preconceived notions that I had regarding incorporating the gratitude journal at the start of this. At first I honestly did not think too much about the gratitude journal, or the benefits that it might have on my perspective day to day. Upon reflection and finishing the gratitude journal for the semester, I found myself reflecting on why I was so dismissive of it at the start. One reason I found was that I thought the idea of reflection on small day to day things was superfluous at best, and couldn't exactly draw connections between how being grateful for the small day to day aspects of my life would affect my overall perspective. The second reason I found was that I was merely looking at this gratitude journal as an assignment (something that I got over throughout the course). By looking at it through the lens of an assignment, I feel like I had limited myself by making the gratitude journal something that I HAD to do, instead of something I’d come to enjoy doing. Towards the end of the semester I found myself enjoying doing the gratitude journal, the development of which I will discuss in a later reflection.
After doing the test, with the results posted above, I found that overall I was comfortable/competent in most aspects that were presented. Through the results, I have decided to focus on learning more about the digital literacy world, and focus on the theory aspect of the digital pathways assignment, as I found that to be the most interesting one for me
I did not watch the film, I picked option 2. The whole idea of racism in AI and computer vision was something I was slightly aware of existing, but was not super educated on the topic. I was not aware of the scale of the impact that it could have on human life. One surprise I found was in how the databases created for facial were very white focused, and upon reflection considering the inherent racism that is present in the tech industry, that makes much more sense after it was pointed out. Joy Buolamwini in her Ted Talk brings up another point I found very shocking (or rather I found it shocking that I did not think about it before) was how it can be used in false prosecution and racial profiling in law enforcement as well. In general I was very shocked by how it can be misused in ways to disrupt people's lives. In the article “5 Ideas to Make Silicon Valley Less Racist”, the inherent racism that exists in the tech industry, and how that effects the software that people make (while not being racist themselves) was a very shocking point to me as well, and the connection being drawn there was very enlightening.
The main connection I can make between the themes discussed in class, and in the articles as well as the general themes in the film, are in relation to the idea of digital literacy. Knowing how these systems work, and the inherent issues and biases that are present in them helps us fight against said biases and know how they affect our lives. In class, learning about proctoring software facial recognition doesn't work as well on people with face coverings and non white skin for example helps us identify why these software are harmful and often and don't work for us.
In general the ideas shared in the film and the articles make me more wary of technology around me in general. Knowing the faults and biases in the software that we use daily makes me more aware of the faults that can occur. For example, I now have even more reason to hate proctoring software, and its invasiveness.
I do not think there is much I can do personally after learning about these topics, but in general I would seek to be more aware of how these computerized systems work considering how prevalent they are in our lives.
The ideas that Mays Imad brought forward in both the Trauma-informed pedagogy video and the zoom session have been eye opening to me personally. In the context we are living in, with online university being a great hardship for many people (myself included) trauma informed learning is a very important topic. Mays Imad initially brought up the idea that in online learning, students aren't just simply being lazy, but there are psychological reasons and unaddressed issues that are making students less effective in this learning environment. The idea that students are in fact traumatized, and that their brains are simply prioritizing survival over learning struck a chord with me personally. My performance relative to what it was on campus has gone down quite a bit since transferring to zoom university despite my best efforts, and there being more of a concrete explanation as to why this is happening was very refreshing. This ties into the point that most resonated with me in the live session that was conducted, and that was the idea of context based learning. Our brains tend to disassociate from learning in isolation, and it can not connect the learning with the importance of it, or the "why" of it. With context based learning, where in the teacher takes into account both the interests of the studnets and the general context of the class, the brain tends to not disassociate with the information, and can connect with the information better and be able to retain it. This is something I find is not done often enough in online university, where professors and lecturers are often not taking into account the fact that we are in the middle of pandemic and not on campus. Yet despite this they still continue to teach in the same manner and give us exams in the same manor, completely disregarding the context of the situation, and the limitations that the context brings. Thus seeing this idea brought forth in a much more informed and formalized angle by Mays Imad resonated with me heavily. To conclude, it was very refreshing and insightful to see how the feelings we as students have during online learning be formalized and explained with literature, in a way reaffirming its importance, and not have it simply be considered something born of laziness or incompetence.
In the age of digital information, news is a wide spread resource from various providers. And with this availability, there exists opportunities to misrepresent and sensationalize events to draw eyes to the articles.
Often, people tend to only read the headlines of news articles. This leads to news organizations creating over exaggerated headlines regarding the event, spreading misinformation to those of us who only read the article title. I am often guilty of this myself, where I believe that the article title provides me with the summary of info I need, only for me to later read the article and find out that the title of the article grossly misrepresents the events that actually occurred.
Given the age we live in, with the existence of covid and highly heated political discourse world wide, the news world is filled with articles that are designed to simply draw eyes to the website and less to the event. The aim of the game will be to highlight the dangers of sensationalism in news, and how easy it is to fall into false information simply from the presentation of an article alone.
The main research that needs to be done is mainly two fold: Examples of sensationalism in contemporary news media, and literary research regarding the effects of sensationalism and its existence in modern day media.
Preliminary Research on examples of Sensationalism in modern media:
Preliminary Research on the effects of sensationalism in modern day media: