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It's been a long week folks. This week has by far been the busiest of the summer. I learned tools on how to investigate and evaluate claims we see on the Internet for credibility, used these tools to investigate and establish credibility for a claim of my own, and tried my writing hand at blogging.
To start the week off, we used Mike Caufield's Web Literacy Textbook as a guide to help us evaluate an assigned website for credibility. I learned a lot of new tools and tricks to help me establish websites credibility, which is something I've never really had to do before. Sure I've had assignments in which I was required to use credible sources, but to complete those assignments I would usually only use online databases or scholarly websites dedicated to academia. If I ever did have to evaluate a website that was outside of these "safe" ones, it was a long, hard, confusing, and tedious task to explore credibility and this week made me realize how I was going about the process the entirely wrong way. The main thing I learned from this exercise was the importance of reading laterally, or looking at outside sources when evaluating a website or claim for credibility. It wasn't good enough to use a website's about page to try to establish credibility. You need to branch out to other sites and sources that have evaluated the claims we are looking at as well. Google scholar searches, web domain searches, identifying sponsored content, working 'upstream', and finding a journal's impact factor are all new tools that helped me evaluate the credibility for content I was seeing on the internet, and helped me immensely when it came time to working on the big assignment for the week.
Our project this week was to investigate and evaluate a claim for the Digital Polarization Project. To complete this take, we were assigned into groups. We were to explore and familiarize ourselves with the Digital Polarization project, and investigate and report about our assigned claim. Working with a group for this particular assignment was basically a blessing. Because searching for a web content's credibility was still such a new and hard concept, it was nice to be able to have a group of people working on the same claim. We were able to discuss our findings and ask questions to direct each other until we reached a group consensus for the credibility of our claim, and then built a wiki page that contained the findings of the credibility of our claim and how we reached our decision. The internet allows us to access a multitude of information. In this digital age, being able to evaluate what we see and separate the credible from the crap is an important tool to have at one's disposal. Through the Digital Polarization Project, my team was able to not only use tools to evaluate a claim for credibility, but put out proof of our research so other's can see and hopefully learn like I did how it is important to always view information critically and not believe everything you read before you really understand it.
The second portion of my week was dedicated to our second module. Within my Digital Polarization group, we decided to do the blogging module. At first, I was a little hesitant about this module. I am an avid blog reader, but I didn't know how I felt about trying to be a blogger myself. But I am so happy that I was a part of this module. For how often I read blogging, it was nice to research and learn more about the blogging of culture itself and to try myself out as a blogger. If I wanted to be a blogger, I first had to figure out what type of blog I wanted. To do so, I explored and tried different blog and CMS platforms until I found the one that I felt worked best for me. Once I got the style of my want to be blog down, I had to work on the content. This came with a lot of trial and error. Trying to come up with topics to blog about was by far the hardest step in this module. The module gave us suggestions for things to blog about, and I definitely used those as inspiration. I know that blogs usually serve the purpose of containing one over arching theme and contain posts that fall under this theme, but because I was unsure of what type of blog I wanted I decided to take a different approach. I decided that I was going to challenge myself to pick 3 different topics about my life and blog about them. By the end of this experience, I was hooked on blogging. What started off as a class assignment turned into something I view as a new hobby. I don't know if people will look at what I wrote, but to be honest I don't care. I had fun blogging and even came up with some ideas of blogs I could, and wish, to pursue in the future.
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