Reflections

I initially enrolled in this class under the idea that it would be easy, but I wasn’t sure what to expect. Even after reading about what was in store for the year, I didn’t quite know what to prepare for. This class has been so much more than I could have imagined.

I wanted to take an online class to hopefully lighten the load in my weekly schedule. I figured taking this class would fit perfectly into my already hectic week. Never would I have imagined that it would actually require so much time. I feel that the way I first perceived this class is similar to how many people initially look at an online class. It’s not going to take any time. It’s basically an “easy A”. That was not the case with this class. It required just as much time as any of my other classes throughout the week. Slack off and you will fall behind, just as in a traditional class.

I’ve never been extremely into being online and using virtual worlds. Yes, I have a smart phone and use social media. I’ve obviously emailed people before. I’ve even played online games like World of Warcraft and Runescape. However, I’ve never solely communicated with people using the Internet. Nearly everyone I’ve held conversations with online, I personally know and see in real life. It was interesting to learn about and participate in this whole other world through the computer. There is a way to act and present yourself if you want to be taken seriously. Different sites have different rules and regulations. One can’t go on and say anything they want, because nothing is truly “anonymous”.

This class also showed me that I have poor organization skills and I’ve fixed that thanks to this course. I found myself falling behind constantly throughout the semester. In part that was because I couldn’t attend the weekly meetings in Second Life. However, I am mostly to blame for it. I didn’t really buckle down until about halfway through the semester when I found myself faced with the group project. Being “forced” to talk with other people from the class opened my eyes to the dedication needed for this class. Not only would my grade be effected, but now it was involving three other students. As the semester continued I found it easier and more natural to post blogs and exchange emails with my group. The organization came out of the need to do well on the project and in the class.

All in all, I got a lot out of this class and greatly enjoyed it. It was more work and time than I expected, but once I started taking the class seriously it wasn’t that bad. I’m so glad I chose to take this class!

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Time Zone Troubles

When thinking about working with people who live in a different time zone, many would think it’s not that big of a deal. We’re used to dealing with a few hours difference across the United States. I would never have imagined collaborating with people living in a time zone with a five hour difference between us. I knew communication was possible with these types of differences because I’d seen my mom go through it with my step dad when he was in Germany for a year. I also knew that it was extremely difficult for them to find times when they’d both be available. That was the problem my group, and many others, faced. We had issues deciding on a time that would be convenient both here and in Dublin. Communication usually happens sporadically throughout the day. I feel that the difference in time zones was rather beneficial for us, as students. We were faced with a difficult obstacle and expected to utilize technology to create the best means of communicating for our group. Each group found different ways that worked best for them. For some, like us, it was email and for others it was Second Life or Facebook. This challenge forced us to take on the responsibility of planning ahead to “meet” as a group. Unlike a traditional class, we never meet face to face. There isn’t a pre-scheduled time where we are all in the same room. By giving us this task, all of us had to step outside our comfort zones, which in the end helped us grow as students.

Harder Than You’d Think

The past few weeks in relation to the project have been really slow and kind of difficult. When people think about a group project, the feeling is typically unanimous. Not many people like them, but usually they’re pretty easy. I was initially excited and nervous about doing this project. I was getting the chance to talk to new people, and people from an entirely different country. However, soon after work on the project began it hit me, this project was going to be one of the most difficult ones I’ve ever had to do. Not only do the groups never meet face to face, but we have to account for the different time zones. My group ruled out using Second Life to communicate due to the facts that many of us had trouble sustaining a connection to the site and we have conflicting breaks in our schedules. We decided that the best way for everyone to communicate would be though email and an app called “Hangouts” which is linked with your Gmail account. “Hangouts” allows us to essentially text each other in a group message. It’s a lot more organized than emailing.

When deciding what our subject for the project would be, we just brainstormed and came to a group decision to focus on The Red Cross. The Red Cross is a great organization. Typically when people think about The Red Cross, they think about giving blood. However, that is not all they do. In addition to doing blood drives, The Red Cross aid is disaster relief projects, provides support for military families, and offers health and safety training. I urge you to spend just ten minutes looking at the link above to see all the good The Red Cross does.

The progress has been really slow due to the obstacles we’ve faced. Not only do we typically face the issues with time zones, but the time change made things ten times as difficult. Also, Akron students have a different spring break than Dublin students. Many of us in the group also can’t attend the meeting once a week in Second Life, putting a wedge in our discussion times. However, I think that my group has finally gotten the ball rolling with this project. With some more time, I feel that my group can be extremely successful in our efforts. As long as we keep current and up to date with everything, this project will finish out smoothly. If I were to approach this task again, I would try to get motivated sooner to work on this project. I feel that I procrastinated too much. I would put more effort and time into spreading the word on my cause.

Confusion Over McLuhan

While reading the blog “Painfully Coming to Grips with ‘The Medium is the Message”, written by virtualworldnmfsfall11, I began to share the same feeling the writer felt. The writer discusses how confused he felt while reading Marshall McLuhan’s “The Medium is the Message”. I didn’t quite follow or understand what virtualworldnmfsfall11 was trying to explain, until the very end. I’m still a little unsure of what McLuhan exactly ment in his writing.

I was able to gather a few things while reading this post. One such thing was that McLuhan believes that we adapt to our environment in an ever changing fashion. We maintain a “balance, or ratio, of the senses and that changes to those ratios have consequences.” As our environment changes, we have to change how we perceive it. Whether that’s relying more on sight or less on hearing. Another idea that I’m a little foggy about is the “the medium is the message”. McLuhan puts up the argument that the medium in which content is displayed will directly affect how people experience and interpret it. The content is a “distraction” for the message that is actually being conveyed. This is something I only partially understand. Finally, the last thing addressed by virtualworldnmfsfall11 was McLuhan’s idea that the medium is not just a tool. Whatever you use to create something becomes an extension of you. I’ve heard this concept when people talk about sports and art; the bat is an extension of you or the paintbrush is an extension of you. However, I never really thought to apply to to everything I do. The message I take away from that idea is that everything is connected is some way and everything has importance.

This blog was a challenge to read and understand, but I’m glad I read it. Virtualworldnmfsfall11’s explaination of McLuhan’s ‘The Medium is the Message’ has definitely given me a new outlook on how things work in the world.

Humans of New York

Before I even visited the site I knew that I would highly enjoy viewing it. “Humans of New York” is a riveting website which has catalogued the lives of New Yorks inhabitants. It’s amazing to see how diverse society is and how everyone has their own story. Not many people take the time to think about what other people have lived through or dream of accomplishing.

Brandon, the founder of and photographer for HONY, has been working since 2010 to photograph more than 10,000 people from New York, and encapture little snippets of their lives in the captions of the photos. I first encountered his work through various posts of Facebook. By using multiple forms of social media, Brandon’s work has spread much further than people would think. I find it so interesting to see photographs of what appear to be “everyday” people and read a snapshot of their life stories. The fact that Brandon has taken the time and effort to go out and not only photograph, but sit down and talk with all of these individuals is phenomenal. More people should take the time to meet new people and learn something about them. Brandon has taken this advice and ran with it, creating a beautiful website which showcases the many faces of New York.

Group Decision

My group decided to select The Red Cross as our charity for our project. The Red Cross is known all around the world for their efforts and volunteer work. I have personally worked with The Red Cross on multiple occasions through my school and donating blood.

I was unable to meet with my group members in Second Life, but we held a discussion through email. It was decided that we would use Second Life and Twitter to spread the word about the cause. It was discussed to create a hashtag which would allow people to follow our progress and possibly attend an event, which we would hold in Second Life. I am extremely excited to raise awareness for a group I’ve already had some affiliation with and highly revere for their efforts. 

The Laws and Regulation of Virtual Reality

I never quite realized the seriousness of copyright issues and legality aspects in virtual reality. I always just logged in and enjoyed what was there to interact with. The thoughts of who designed this and what would happened if someone tried to copy it never crossed my mind. All through school, teachers and professors explain the huge problems with plagiarism and cheating, and this concept is essential the same as what’s discussed in the article, “Content and Licensing in Virtual Worlds” by .

If you worked hard on creating and designing something, you’d want people to see it and use it. However, you would want your consumers to respect that the product is of your creation and not theirs to put their name on; that’s why the idea of copyrights exist. Once you’ve made an agreement to something like that you don’t want to later find out that the conditions of the agreement have changed. That would be like giving someone a cookie, but then telling them they’re not allowed to eat it. It’s not fair and I, personally, would be extremely disappointed.

Issues like this are occurring in Second Life, and there are mixed feelings about it. Someone people feel that the terms and conditions of these sites should be left up to the creators. If a user doesn’t agree, then they have the freedom to come and go as they please. At the other end of the argument, people are saying that it’s not right to change the contracts once they’re already made, especially without informing their users of this change. I don’t particularly lean towards one side or the other. I don’t think that creators should change the terms of their programs, but they are the ones that developed it. They should inform their users, but if they don’t, they should expect to upset and potentially lose users. In that situation, the users would have a right to be upset, but they should also understand the potential risk.