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Final Thoughts

I really enjoyed this English class.  I had originally planned on taking this class so that I could take a class with friends that I had made in the previous semester.  However, I realized in the first week of classes that this class would not be something that I could take lightly.  I had considered changing my English class only because I was worried about the workload after signing up for 17 credit hours for the semester.  Even after most of the friends I had signed up to take the class with dropped the class during phase II registration, I stayed in he class.  I’m glad I made the decision, because I have learned several invaluable skills that I think will translate very well to the work environment.  I developed several skills in working in a group that I would ordinarily not have learned outside of this class.  Since a lot of Georgia Tech’s education is centered around being able to work in groups and collaborate, I can go into future classes with a wealth of new skills.  I’m glad I had an opportunity to hone my leadership skills, as well.  Besides that, I found the reading that we did in the class interesting and I found myself actually preferring to do English work over my math or physics work.  This is a first for me, considering I have never been the kind of person to really appreciate an English class based on my previous experiences.  I am glad to see that this class actually has practical applications, unlike most of the English classes that I have taken throughout my education.  As I leave this class and complete my English requirements, I will carry the skills that I have learned in here and apply them wherever I can, because I really do appreciate all that I have gained out of this class.  I can safely say that staying in this class was one of my better decisions.

Blogs

Throughout the semester, we were given the task of updating our blogs and posting weekly.  This seemed to be no problem to me at first, but as the semester went on and my classes got much tougher, I realized how difficult it was to keep up.  I think there is a lot to like about the blogging process, but there is also a lot that I did not like.  The biggest problem I had was just motivating myself to post weekly.  There were times when I got wrapped up in our group assignment and neglected to blog.  I realize now that this was a big mistake, because I could very easily have blogged about the process of working on these group projects.  Most of my early posts were responses to the reading assignments or follow ups on the group assignments.  However, I could have done much more to blog about the actual process.  Another aspect about blogging that I did not really care for was that I felt that this was more of an academic blog than a personal blog.  I understand that this blog was created as an assignment for a class, but I would really love to express some of my opinions without the fear that they will be graded for grammar and content.  I feel like expressing myself is much easier when I don’t worry so much about my audience.  I feel that I have improved in this regard over the semester because I started to post actual thoughts and feelings about the projects and assignments.  This is the way I see a blog being most useful.  It should be almost like an online journal where you share your thoughts but do not worry about who reads them.  I felt that the assignment somewhat limited that function of blogs.

There was a lot I enjoyed about blogging as well.  I really liked being able to express thoughts on various issues, topics, readings, or assignments.  It was interesting to me that I was able to somewhat freely express myself.  It was also a great way for personal self-expression, something that I enjoyed.  I generally do not enjoy writing, but when I found a topic that I had many opinions about, I was able to easily write a blog post that explained how I felt.  I think overall, there is a lot to be liked about writing a blog, but at the same time there is a lot that can be improved. 

If I was given this assignment in the future, I would prefer more structure in terms of deadlines for weekly posts, just because I work best when I know there is a hard deadline.  I would also like to believe that this blog is just a way to express myself and will not be graded very harshly.  The pressure of being graded makes it a lot harder to truly express yourself.   This has been a good experience for me blogging this semester, and it may be something that I continue in the future.

Collaboration

I wanted to take this opportunity to reflect on the collaborative work that we did this semester.  There were many ups and downs this semester in terms of working as a group, and there is a lot that I have learned in the process of working on the assigned projects for this class.

Collaboration first really came into action in this class when we worked on our digital rhetorical analysis paper.  That was a good experience for me, because each group member contributed equally, and we were able to write a strong paper.  Everyone understood their responsibilities and took care of what they promised they would do.  We ended up getting a high grade on the essay.

The next major assignment was the white paper.  The white paper was the major assignment for the semester, or at least that is what I saw as the biggest challenge in the class for the semester.  For this project, we tagged on another partner to our group of three that worked on the digital rhetorical analysis essay.  I was rather disappointed in the contributions, or lack thereof, from one of the members of my group (not the new member), whose name I will not reveal on this blog. While three of us were writing the proposal on a google doc, the unnamed fourth group member decided that because we reached the minimum page length requirement, he would no longer need to write his part.  This was particularly frustrating because the rest of us put in the time to plan out this assignment.  However, it was just the proposal, so I did not want to put much weight behind that.  The next process was the rough draft.  All of us in the group put less effort than we could have into the first draft, but the unnamed group member actually copied and pasted parts from the proposal, which he had no part in writing, and claimed them as his contributions to the draft.  I did not appreciate that at all, but because this was just a rough draft and nobody had worked particularly hard on the draft anyway.  Yet as the deadline for the final draft approached, and we were running out of time to meet as a group, we decided on a time to meet.  The unnamed fourth group member could not make it to the scheduled meeting time for whatever reason (not specified), so he decided to contribute individually.  There were at least 1,000 of the minimum 5,500 words in his part with some statistics scattered here and there, which was a fairly significant contribution.  Considering that there were at least 4,500 words, pictures, formatting, and revising and editing that needed to be done between three people, I felt that the fourth group member did not necessarily contribute as he could have for the paper.  The three of us who were able to attend the meeting, and who have our own busy schedules as well, met for roughly eight and a half hours to finish the entire project the day before the deadline.  We worked hard and received a high grade on the paper, so I was happy to see that the effort paid off.  Recently, when we received our grades, the fourth group member complained about how long and difficult the night before the deadline had been working on this paper.  This was irritating to hear considering the one complaining did not even attend the meeting at all.  From this, I learned that even when one person does not carry their weight in a group project, the rest of the group must be responsible and step up their contributions in order to have the best collective performance.  In group work, we are not graded or judged as individuals, because the final product is all that matters.

The next assignment was the presentation.  While I admit I was very minimally involved in our social movement campaign presentation due to my very busy week, I had done extensive research on everything that was included in the presentation while we were writing the whit paper itself.  I was ready to present and discuss our digital solution to the problem proposed in the white paper.  I had no problems as far as being on the same page as the rest of my group.  This was the assignment I felt bad that I did not contribute as much to, but in retrospect, most of our presentation was taken from what we wrote about in the white paper, so I did actually do a fair share of work in creating and preparing the presentation.

Finally, there was the digital solution to our problem.  We had decided that the unnamed fourth group member would have a larger role in this because of his expertise in creating websites.  However, when three of us were working on the proposal and draft of the assignment, he was doing homework for other classes and surfing the internet.  At this point, from working on various assignments with this parter, I was frustrated with the lack of cooperation on his end.  He had almost no part in creating the website, and he cancelled a scheduled meeting at the last minute due to prior engagements.  I feel that he should have known he had other obligations before deciding on a meeting time with us to save us all from the last minute cancellation hours before we were scheduled to meet, but it’s not my place to question someone else’s responsibility. The three of us who had worked on the white paper together were again stuck working on the major content of the assignment.  I found it very fitting that when making our final presentation where we also displayed our website, that the same three of us who had been working hard all along, were the three that dressed up professionally for the presentation.

I do not mean to sound so bitter about the way that one person acted during the semester.  I really don’t mean to “throw anyone under the bus,” so to speak.  It’s just frustrating to see some group members ride the pine and rely on others to receive good grades.  It doesn’t bother me so much anymore because I know that the attitude and approach that I have taken will allow me to be successful in my future endeavors.  This blog is my space to explain what I learned about collaboration and group work.  I worked very well with the others in my group and we all contributed equally in each assignment.  It was a great challenge and opportunity for myself, as well as the two other group members, to deal with a problem with another group member and still work hard to create a great final product.  It is not in my nature to only worry about my own part, so I know this experience will serve me well in the future, when I inevitably end up in a similar position.  Collaboration is crucial in working in a business, and I’m glad that I was able to learn so much, both through positive and negative experiences this semester, so that I can grow and improve for the future.

Final Presentation

Today we had our final presentation for the social movement campaign.  I thought that it went very well on my end.  I spoke with confidence and I was logical and clear in what I was saying.  This is a marked improvement for me.  Generally, I do not perform well under the pressure of presenting in front of a group of people.  However, recently, I have found myself a lot more comfortable in groups.  Part of that may be from gaining experience through performing in Greek Sing for my fraternity, in which we won first place this year, before a large audience.  I think overall, my growth throughout a year of being in college has changed me.  I would never be comfortable talking in front our class and giving a coherent and eloquent presentation.  Another factor that I think worked in my favor was the fact that we did not over-prepare for the presentation.  Generally, when I carefully plan what I want to say for a presentation, I get nervous and being to forget what I wanted to say.  To compensate, I take long pauses to think of my words and sometimes stutter or stumble over my words.  This time, I just presented based on what I knew from writing the white paper and doing extensive research.  I looked at the slides and used them as a reference when I spoke to the class, careful not to read directly off of the slides.  This was a huge step forward for me in terms of making an effective presentation.  I’m particularly proud of myself for the growth that I have experienced in such an important area.  Presentations and effective communication skills are a huge part of working in any profession, so improving in that field is extremely important.

The rest of the presentation went very well, and most of the group members dressed up in more business casual attire so our presentation had a more professional feel.  Our presentation was also helped by the fact that we had our final digital rhetorical solution to our problem already created.  We were able to display our finished website in front of the class and show a tangible final product.  Each of us presented well and spoke eloquently, it was a generally good result.  Considering we were limited in our preparation because of one of our group members falling sick, I think we had a strong performance.

Social Movement Campaign Presentation

Today, I met with my group to make some final preparations for our presentation.  Our presentation seems to be prepared well.  Our thought and slides are well-organized and we have everything that we need to say ready.  Since we could not present earlier because Keith was sick with the flu, we had to work around that and prepare our presentation accordingly.  However, we are lucky that we already had to submit out final social movement campaign project before our presentation.  Now, we can have an even better final presentation.  We worked on our final website yesterday and we able to finish it.  After completing our website, we can now integrate the website and give a brief tour of our website during the presentation.  The other groups that went before us were at a disadvantage because most of them did not already complete their social movement campaign artifact and did not have anything concrete to present to the class.  On the other hand, our group will have a website to present to our classmates, so we can show our artifact in action.  Tomorrow, we will show our classmates our website after presenting the problem of poverty.  We hope to show our classmates how serious of a problem poverty is, and hopefully we can start solving the problem by getting them involved.  Since it will be fairly difficult to get a large following for our website early on, we will need to get strong support from the start, hopefully by getting our classmates involved.  After the website gets up and running, perhaps we will be able to have an actual impact on the problem.  Tomorrow will be our opportunity to show our classmates what they can do to about poverty.

WOVEN Portfolio and other thoughts

The time is coming.  As I had been making preparations for my final exams, I remembered that there is still wrk to been done for English classes.  The WOVEN portfolio, the end of term assignment for all English classes, needs to be submitted sometime in the near future.  As much as it seems like a burden, I can honestly say that I’m going to find it interesting to look back on my work for the semester and see how I’ve grown as a student.  Hopefully my communication skills (visual, digital, verbal, and oral) have improved significantly, because they are important skills for any working environment.  I would hope that I know have the communication skills to succeed regardless of what position I hold in the future, when I have a job.

As much as English classes seem like a burden at a technical institute such as Georgia Tech, where most of the students are engineers and would much rather do math an science than write papers and read books, I can say that I can appreciate the skills that I learned being in this class.  Naturally, as an engineering student myself, I was not thrilled with the possibility of writing the 5,500 word white paper, among other assignments, and I had considered switching my English class to something easier.  However, I’m actually glad I stayed in this class because I learned a lot about collaboration and group work, effective communication, and of course, the topic of the class, digital rhetoric and civic engagement.  Coming into the class, I really did not know what this course would really be about.  Then, after learning about rhetoric and the important role it plays in our communication, I realized how interesting it was to study rhetoric to better my own means of communication.

Writing the WOVEN portfolio will give me a chance to actually see how I’ve grown and if I have really developed these skills.  Although this assignment seems like it would just be more work on my plate, I’m actually pretty interested to see how my semester has gone by looking at my work and analyzing it.

Social Movement Campiagn

Our group has been working on the social movement campaign project recently.  We had been working on the presentation of our social movement campaign, but Keith, one of my group mates, got sick, and we were unable to present.  The power point presentation was finished, but we need to finally present it when we have all of our group members together.  The creation of the presentation went smoothly, although I was not as involved as I would have like to be in the making of the presentation.  I had 4 tests this week, and studying occupied almost all of my time.

The social movement campaign project we chose to use was a website providing detailed solutions to poverty.  We provided links to other websites involved in poverty relief that accept donations.  The reasoning for this was that we don’t think people would donate willingly to our web site without knowing where the money actually goes.  Another component of the project was financial advice column, where we provide advice to put people on the right track and make smart decisions with their money.  Additionally, a resume building “workshop” is included.  This section gave a few tips and tricks to write a strong resume to increase the chances of being employed.  Finally, we included a section on how other people can get involved and help fight against poverty, whether it is through volunteering or financial contributions.  This is where we hope to get a majority of the people viewing the website to get involved in our cause.

Hopefully, our digital solution to the problem of poverty is somewhat effective.  While we know that we cannot end a problem as widespread as poverty, which has existed since the beginning of time, we can limit its spread and help more people to live a better lifestyle.

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