El Posto de Finito (Wrap-up)

This post is meant to reflect on my overall experience in this course, so I’ll touch on a couple key concepts that I pulled out and think I’ll truly make use of in the future. Firstly, one major realization I had about using online resources is that the Internet is truly an open book with a million different authors, so you need to be careful about checking the validity of your information. For example – the title of this post (El Posto de Finito) is the translation I got from entering “the final post” into a English to Spanish translator that I found randomly – and obviously didn’t bother to confirm it’s correctness! ((el mensaje final is the correct translation)) One thing I learned about myself would be that – while I pride myself in getting things done in the most time-efficient and logical manner – I’ve been ignoring the presence of many useful online tools and technology for much to long. In the future, I plan on taking time out of assignments to search for tools that will make it easier, more engaging or simply more fun to accomplish them. Another thing I learned about myself was that I am a chronic procrastinator – but that there is hope to curing this illness! Although it’s taken a good deal of work, the help provided in this course as well as some other courses I’m currently enrolled in has help me to lift the veil on why I’m so attracted to procrastination and see the true affects it has on the rest of my life. For instance – now that I put time aside to plan out how long assignments will take and what level of priority they should be assigned, I’ve noticed my overall stress levels (in all areas of my life, not just school) have decreased drastically. Overcoming my tendency to procrastinate has also taught me a lesson in working hard to make positive life-style changes – even a bad habit that I’m so well-versed in can be changed with the right tools and a little dedication!

I would have to say my transformation from a procrastinator has been the most meaningful experience in this course because it’s changed the capacity in which I operate in many areas of my life. Other meaningful experiences in this course include learning how to more effectively use online tools to supplement my in-class learning, as well as using organization tools (like time-tracking, calenders, ect. ) to help my more accurately plan out my study-time – which leads to worry free relaxation time. Finally, I plan on applying what I’ve learned in this class in all my future studies because I feel like I’d be cheating myself if I didn’t! Skills I mentioned above like effective time-management and learning the causes, affects and solutions to procrastination are skills that can be carried and applied to any school or job situation that I encounter in the future. In fact – these skills are so applicable to everyone and every situation that I plan on looking for signs in people procrastinate (things that make them like I was at the beginning of this course) and help them overcome these tendencies so that they can be free and confident in their ability to work hard, have fun and earn the reward they so rightfully deserve.



Searching … and Researching + Quick Tip # 3 (Using Wikis)

First off, if this is your first exposure to any type of advice about writing academic papers, I want to assure you that while it’s a lot of work to put together a well-cited scholarly work – there are many tools available to you to make it a whole lot easier, such as Purdue Writing Lab and Dartmouth Institute’s websites. However – the most important thing to remember when writing an academic or reasearch paper is to make sure the information your utilizing is credible. To make this task simplier, divide your expectations on a source into three categories: reliability (of the author, publisher and reviewers), the quality of the information, and the information utility (knowing how exactly your going to utilize this information in the context of your own writing).

Searching means finding something, but researching means determined the quality of that something. Like I mentioned earlier – this task can sometimes be daunting, particularly if your trying to hurry through a paper. However, there are many tools and strategies to make this task less burdensome throughout your research:

– choosing to use a  category search (yahoo.com) versus a keyword search (google) when appropriate.

– knowing how to manipulate search queries with Boolean logic (OR, AND, using quotes)

–  using scholarly search engines to sift through the filth of the internet

– organizing the chaos of many-item bibliographies with sites like. . .

+ www.citeulike.org

+ www.easybib.com

+ www.mendeley.com.


Quick Tip # 3: Using Wikis

Wiki’s can be a great source of information – but they can never be your final source. Instead, use a wiki as a lead to other depots of information that you can cite reliably and do further research on. For the professionals, starting at a source that’s unreliable may seem like a junior-league tactic, but you never know what kind of gold you’ll find if you just do a little creative, structured digging.


Note Taking and Online Learning

In order to get the most out of your notes, you need to refine your techniques: that high school style of recording everything you hear (or maybe you were one of the ones that didn’t take notes at all :p) won’t cut it anymore. Firstly, educate yourself on some different note taking approaches. These include how to use a presentation that you have access to prior the lecture, how to take notes when access to the presentation isn’t happening and how to use pre-defined templates to help better organize your notes as you take them, such as the Cornell Note Taking system.

Also included in this module is how to take notes on new types of educational materials outside the classroom like online video and/or audio. Knowing the difference between standard lectures and audio/video effective listening and learning makes a huge difference in how useful your notes will actually be to you later on. Part of this difference is realizing how much more information audio/video information is throwing at you at once. One remedy to this abundance of information is to use different note-taking technologies such as mind-maps, One Note or Inspiration.

The final important thing to grasp out of this week’s module was how to effectively use the internet to supplement your learning in the classroom on a topic. Great learners don’t stop learning in the classroom; they pursue answers to unanswered questions outside of the classroom. Podcasts and online videos can be a great way gain further insight on difficult, complicated or just multi-layered topics that need more time to full comprehend and which can be more fully understood from multiple angles or perspectives.

Different learning methods: a video example

This video (below) first gives an overview of why guitar strings are so integral to how a guitar sounds as a final product. It then tells of several different ways in which the quality of the strings are tested before being used in a guitar, such as the “twist test” and the “tension” test, which measure strength and elasticity respectively. After these tests, the core wire needs to be spun around a ball-end  and then covered in it’s exterior bronze wire finish. Finally, the video briefly explains the difference between bronze and nylon based guitar string construction.

The most important way the video supplements my learning of this topic is by providing visual aids. Not only is the process of making guitar strings long, but it also involves a lot of vocabulary that normal folk wouldn’t be familiar with. With the timely video clips and the narration that goes with them, I don’ have to look up every single word I don’t know because I can link these unknowns to the video. Another way the video enhances this topic is by presenting this sequential construction in a way that makes sense, is easy to remember and is interesting because the narration and selected video footage flow so seamlessly from one stage to another.






Releasing your inner reading potential and Quick Tip #2 (Effective Studying)

If you’re a student and you’ve at least made it through your high school education, you probably think you know how to read and study by now. But are you doing it in the most time-effective and purposeful manner?

One issue many people have is lack of preparation for a reading. To retain the most knowledge while reading, you need to put yourself in the right mindset before beginning. First, remove all distractions from your environment. Next, realize how the reading your doing actually fits into the material your currently learning; this will help to create connections to past materials while you read, which in result will boost your retention rate. Finally, identify the type of reading you’re doing and realize it’s strengths and weaknesses. For instance, traditional reading (as opposed to online) poses the benefit of almost always being reliable by virtue of being published, but limits how you can learn the material to a very linear path. On the other hand, online reading allows you to learn on your own non-sequential path in order to make immediate connections between the reading and other sources that can further supplement the material.

During and after the reading, focus on identifying and jotting down main ideas, and your comments/reactions to these ideas. This will help you later to recall main ideas and chapters without having to dive into the reading entirely again.

Quick Tip (#2) Effective Studying

Being an active learner meanings getting creative with how you process and organize ideas. One way to be an active learner is to create your own study tools: the act of making something helps you to learn it more effectively by allowing you to demonstrate your own relations among learned concepts. Here are some cool tools you can utilize in aiding your studies:

1) Infographics

2) Timelines

3) Mind Maps

4) Presentations

5) Animations



Netiquette and Quick Tip #1 (Online Group Projects)

Netiquette – or etiquette on the web – is a set of standards that regulate how we communicate with one another online. Unlike real life in which there are general societal constructs in place to keep us civil, the rapid expansion of the Internet and its users has created a place in which expression is unlimited and generally un-hindered. This is why netiquette is so important: we must re-teach individuals how to treat us – and therefore how we would like to be treated.

From my studies in communication technology, I can tell you that almost every non-visual cue that occurs in live conversation also manifests itself in digital text. With that being said, not everyone overanalyzes every word you write, however there are a number of solid guidelines to follow. For example, using emoticons to express tone (good) as opposed to using “all caps” to express loud anger or excitement (bad). Although it would seem that the goal is to represent yourself online – because of the ambiguity of text – your digital self must remain more guarded then your real self. Using sarcasm, slang or idioms may be your style – but it can sometimes be confusing and send the wrong signals if not used carefully.

To practice good netiquette, you must know the general rules of the forum from within you’re communicating. Emails to professionals should be written like you would a finely worded letter, while ongoing discussions are generally your own personal thoughts – so more personal flavor is acceptable. Your comments on blogs and other news sites should reflect the overall tone and formality of the site based on that of your commenting peers and the actual creator of the work.

Quick Tip (#1) Online Group Projects

When working with a group on a project that’s mostly digitally based (generally because of physical constraints on your ability to meet), here are some helpful tips:

  1. Immediately clarify project requirements, group roles and preferred communication methods
  2. Although it can seem tedious and a waste of time, sometimes establishing at least a little interpersonal context can go a long way in helping your group “mojo”.
  3. Use the tools and resources available to you. Texting, chat rooms, wikis, Google docs – it’s the 21st century! Properly using the resources at your disposal saves time and unneeded headaches.