Reflections on a Community of Inquiry

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Photo by Trey Ratcliff / CC BY

I started studying IN22 this semester, so, I really did not know what to expect from studying online as part of a community of inquiry.  At the start of the semester, the concept was foreign to me and I was not sure how I would cope.  The last time I studied at university was from 2002 to 2006 and it was a totally different experience.  For IN22, I do not need to buy expensive textbooks, or travel into QUT to attend tutes and lectures, neither do I need to step foot in a library [update: actually, I have stepped foot in a library and will need to for the course.  I was referring to studying in a library].  Everything has been completed remotely in my own time.  I am pleased to say, that I adapted well and am satisfied with what I achieved.  I let my studies dominate my life for the last 14 weeks though.  Now that the semester is over, I am looking forward to bringing my life back into order again.  

In terms of the role I wanted to play in the IFN614 community at the beginning of the semester, it was to provide a cognitive presence.  I thought that social presence would come easily to me but a cognitive presence would be challenging.  

Of the four cognitive presence elements, triggering, exploring, integrating and resolving, I think that exploring became most prominent.  This is demonstrated by positive feedback I received at checkpoint 1 for my blog posts.  I made an effort to read widely and unpack what I learnt.  Triggering probably came second because I asked a number of questions to my peers when I commented on posts and during Twitter chats.  Integrating and resolving still needs some work.  I seemed to rely on others for these elements.

I believe I played an active role in the community as predicted.  I was proud of my blog posts.  They were my creations for all to see, and I was thrilled if anyone commented on them.  I also checked the IFN 614 site at least once a day to browse activity.  I was quite attached to it – the same kind of attachment I have with Facebook.

I made an effort to comment on my peers’ posts, and in the first few weeks, my comments were encouraging, demonstrating a social presence.  But once I realised I needed to comment in a way to contribute to the community conversation on the week’s topic, my comments became more sophisticated and I began asking questions to fill gaps in my understanding.    

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The decision on whose posts I commented on depended on availability of time mostly, and also if the post resonated with me in some way.  I also made an effort to comment on posts of people who commented on mine.  I resisted the urge to read and comment on my peers’ posts before I published my own because I thought it would influence my views.  Once the topic was unpacked in my own mind, I had the knowledge to comment in a meaningful way.

Twitter chats were a novel way to trigger conversation in the community about particular library programs, products and services.  At the start of the semester I had to create a Twitter account because I had never used Twitter before.  I knew of it, but never thought it could be used in an educational setting.  As predicted, I enjoyed using Twitter because it’s a fun way to communicate.  What’s more, it suits my conversation style – brief.  I tend not to have long conversations – a by-product of a fast-paced life.  The Twitter chats were a great way to connect with other people in the course who I might not otherwise have a chance to interact with.  In addition, it was a good way to ignite interest in the topic of the week.

I wonder what the chats would have been like if they had been scheduled mid-week rather than on Mondays?  I felt a bit like a fish out of water in some of the Twitter chats where I hadn’t done any reading on the topic beforehand, but by the end of the week I researched the topic deeply.  I would have contributed more if I was more prepared.

Other than during IFN 614 Twitter Chats, I have not tweeted much.  Instead I regularly scroll through my Twitter feed and like  tweets that stand out to me.  This behaviour is fairly similar to how I use Facebook, my preferred social media platform.  I refrain from posting because I am shy.

I think my key take-away from this unit is that the more you write, the easier it is.  Kate’s love of writing is inspiring and I took onboard her advice to write, write and write.  Assigning fortnightly critical reflection blog posts was a great way to get me writing about pertinent topics on library programs, products and services without getting bogged down by reference lists and unnatural scenarios.  The regular practice has made it easier for me to produce a sound piece of writing in good time.

Finally, on reflecting on the quality of my work for IFN 614, I am most pleased with my blog posts.  I put a lot of time and effort into them, and so far, this has paid off with good results.  My ability to research and unpack academic work has served me well, but I think that it is important that I find my own voice.  Because I have not worked in a library setting yet, it is difficult to go beyond the theory and present a strong viewpoint.  It seems that my reticence in expressing myself through social media, was also apparent in the IFN614 community.  The yogi in me favours the middle path.  Is that an excuse?  I’m not sure.  I’ll meditate on it…     

          

Reflections on Twitter

The infamous and ubiquitous # is about to become part of my vocabulary!  Until I started this course, I never thought that Twitter could be used in an educational setting.  Actually, I had a fairly negative view of it.  I saw it as a tool for outspoken people to vent their opinions.  Tweets were those annoying comments that appear on screen during Q & A that distract my attention from the guest speaker.  Not surprising then, Q & A’s host, Tony Jones, hasn’t joined (yet).  But now that I’ve signed up and have a steady stream of interesting tweets flowing in constantly from libraries and librarians, I can see how useful Twitter is for my professional development.  My first Twitter chat (#auslibchat) was exciting and stimulating.  I think it will provide a fun and entertaining way to learn.  My main concern is that chats will remain superficial and topics will not be unpacked adequately to construct meaning.  With the right scaffolding though, I think we will be able to have some insightful chats.  I look forward to using it.