Tuesday, March 20, 2007

online discussions

i will preface this entry with the fact that i DO realise how long it has been since i have posted and that my blog and the many dedicated readers have every right to feel neglected. i apologise.

it's not easy being in such high demand, you know. i can't do everything. ..as much as i'd like to. and i actually think that i've done quite well to blog AT ALL in the last 12 months considering that i've not really been at a computer on a regular basis and it was actually quite inconvenient. ..right now i'm back at uni and feel like i have even LESS time but i am on or near a computer just about everyday. and i suspect taht this will give me more opportunity to blog.
i'm also using my brain alot more (well.. that's the idea anyway) so, in theory, i should be even more stimulated and inspired to dish out some blogging-gems.

the thing that i actually wanted to address and talk about actually was more to do with online discussions.
as you may know i have, for many years now, been (in some form or another) a member of an online swing dancing discussion board*. this was probably my first experience at online forums and has been one that i have at times both loved and hated. and i cannot make any such claims about such things across the board even if i have dabbled in other forums as well**.

recently for uni i have been required to participate in a weekly discussion for one of my subjects. where basically you answer particular prompts (topics) listed by the lecturer based on the weeks readings/lecture etc. which will eventually contribute to our next assignment and our overall mark.
i suspect that this is more of a sneaky way of getting students to actually do the readings before the tutes than anything deeper and more meaningful. perhaps the department is going through an experimental stage and doesnt really know how what to expect. perhaps they figured they were improving our IT skills -another curriculum requirement ticked off.
what is actually happening is quite forced*** and shallow. all 35 students want to meet the assessment criteria, not rock the boat too much and probably have a hectic schedule. i know i dont read every single other post before mine (maybe 2 or 8 if i've got time) and pretty much write my response before hand including gaps in which to insert names "I agree with _____, who states.."
blah blah blah.

but the other nite when i did have time found that i actually slipped into a certain role while considering my response. i wanted to write something concise and insightful, but not too insightful and certainly not controversial. i realised that that is exactly what i have done in other forum situations as well = i am a fence-sitter! GAH! what has happened?
..i wonder if this is the reason why i dont post on the dance forum anymore?
-i dont care about the topic and dont bother posting
-or i care too much and cant bare to post.

so, now one of my subjects is requiring me to undertake an online tutorial next week. i'm just reading the instructions now and they are going to assess everyone's posts as either thoughtful or not thoughtful. that's tough. surely, there's something to be said about original material: usually there are only a couple of different sides of the story or angles and if they've already been contributed then how can i make a meaningful contribute to the discussion without repeating what other people have already said? and doesnt that go against the concept of a discussion? it's not meant to be a gathering of people shouting out about who's side they're on.

that's where blogging comes in. it's only one voice -shouting as loud as it wants.

*i know, i know, i havent' actually read it for at least 2 months. you heard it here first folks.
**a pop music forum - where they discuss in detail the personal lives of the artists, lyrical meaning and an opportunity to engage in a very watered down version of internet-sex. the other was a subculture related board that consisted of 2-dozen teens slandering each other and dropping personal jokes - hardly intelligent discussion.
***this notion is stupid and following me. recently i felt like this at both a dance event and a social event. who is actually doing the forcing? (apart from the present situation obviously)

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