Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Idea Outlines for my Portfolio's Reflective Introductions

General Introduction:
- Central Idea: A well-written thesis like statement that demonstrates what I am trying to demonstrate to the reader with the presentation of my web portfolio as a whole.
> All of the artifacts included within my web portfolio are reflective of my growth as a writer operating in electronic enviornments. At the beginning of the semester I had little to no experience of skills writing in electronic enviornments, however each indivudal artifact included in this portfolio represents indivudal steps in the overall progression I have made over the semester as a writer in what once was a foreign and unfamilar writing enviornment to me. Very similar to the growth that characterizes any of the thousands of enviornments found in nature, my semester in this course can be best characterized by a pattern of consistent growth.

Project- Based Reflective Introductions:

For each of my individual reflective statements for each project or "artifact" included in my web portfolio, I plan to follow the same formula for each. By doing this I will be able to increase the cohesiveness and consistency of my entire web portfolio. For each project's reflective statement, I plan to do the following:

-Discuss how this project represents a step in my overall progression/growth as a writer in electronic enviornments. At this point I think I will be using the thematic concept of Enviornment/Growth as the backdrop for my entire portfolio, so it will be critically important for me to demonstrate how each individual project in my portfolio ties into and is reflective of this overarching concept.
- Discuss the struggles/ difficulties I encountered in each project
- What I learned specifically in each project
- The ways in which what I learned in each project will help me in the future

I plan to follow this structure for each of my projects individual relfective statement. Now that I have created what I believe to be a good, functional outline/format for my reflective statements, I plan to begin writing the drafts based upon these outlines, which will hopefully result in a set of cohesive and well-written reflective statements that serve the overall purpose of demonstrating my growth as a writer in electronic enviornments.

Potential Themes for my Web Portfolio

Having reviewed all of my process blog posts and post writes from over the course of the semester, I was able to pick up on several connections/recurring themes from them that I think I will be able to translate into a cohesive theme for my web portfolio. I had the following initial ideas for potential themes:

1) Enviornment/Nature/Growth Theme: Throughout this semester in my process blog and post writes I write alot about my growth as a writer in the electronic enviornment. This entire course is focused upon learning to write in a new enviornment which is gaining increasing significance in our society as a primary medium for all sorts of writing. I was thinking I could take this word/idea that this course is focused upon, enviornment, and make it the focal point of my web portfolios theme. By making enviornment/nature the theme of my web portfolio, this idea also connects to the idea of growth, as everything within any sort of enviornment is always growing. The growth that occurs within enviornments in nature can be easily compared/reflective of my own personal growth as a writer within the electronic enviornment.

2) Ecology Theme: This idea is somewhat similar to my first theme idea. Throughout the semester one of the main themes of our work was participating in information ecologies. I was thinking I could make Ecology the theme of my web portfolio. Perhaps I could also just tie the idea of ecology into my first theme idea of enviornment, as I feel I could combine these two themes into one, cohesive theme that focuses on a theme of ecology/enviornment/nature/growth as it relates to my progress as a writer over the semester.

3) The Concept of Struggle/Effort: As I have stated, one of the major recurring notions highlighted throughout my process blog posts and post writes is my continous struggle and effort to become a more skilled writer in electronic enviornments. Most all of my post writes and process blog posts discuss my lack of experience/knowledge/skills as an electronic writer, and how each project we have done in the class has gradually helped me improve my skills in this field. Furthermore, my enthusiast blog revolves around my personal, intense struggle to quit smoking cigarettes. As of right now I am unsure of how exactly I will portray the concept of a struggle thematically, I will continue to brainstorm about how I could do this.

Monday, December 7, 2009

2 Project Revisions

1) Project # 1: Enthusiast Blog: The first project I am going to revise for my final portfolio is my enthusiast blog. While I am yet to receive a grade for my final blog, I will be basing my revisions on feedback I received on my initial 4 posts, as well as improvements that I feel can be made. There are several areas I will focus on in revising my enthusiast blog. First will be the aesthetic component of the blog. Throughout the semester I have always felt that my blog could be more pleasing aesthetically, even by taking a simple step like changing the primary colors. However, I have always felt that the content is more important and never took the time to really work towards my desired aesthetic arrangement. This will be an area that I will be focusing on explicitly in revising this blog. Furthermore, I intend to add more pictures within each blog post. While my posts are long and informative, I realized that their length may initially make the reader feel overwhelmed. I plan to add pictures within each post to break them up and make them seem less overwhelming and long. Finally, by changing my description and About Me, I am going to try to make my blog give off a vibe that is more inclusive to any given reader. Finally, I will work to make sure that my grammar is consistent throughout my entire blog. All of these revisions are based off the feedback I received for my initial 4 blog posts. I like my enthusiast blog alot, but I know that with some work it can be much better overall.

2) Project # 2: Writing for Wikitravel: The second project I plan to revise is the Wikitravel project. For this project I wrote about the Back Bay region of Boston. I got really good feedback and earned a good grade on this project, but I believe I can improve it significantly through revision. One negative piece of feedback I received on this project was that my Before.doc did not include the Mark up. Right now I am confused as to how I will go about fixing this, but I plan to clarify this with Ms. Portman. While I earned a good grade on this project, I did not include any pictures despite the fact that I discussed many beautiful, breathtaking landmarks. I think by adding pictures I will bolster my Wikitravel page greatly. Finally, I will add some more posts and content to the site. I realized that I have a lot more to contribute with my extensive knowledge of the region.

Response to Kimball Chapter On Portfolios

I found Kimball's chapter on portfolios to be an in-depth, well-written, and highly informative piece. I find this reading is a great starting point for the process I am about to begin in creating my own web portfolio. Kimball begins by giving the reader an idea of exactly what a portfolio is. Kimball defines a portfolio as a "reflective collection of work that is designed to full fill a specific purpose and presented for feedback." Throughout the entire article Kimball focuses on what characterizes a good portfolio. First and foremost, Kimball points out that the author, with their portfolio, should be able to show the reader what he/she has learned in the process of creating the portfolio itself, and revising the portfolios "artifacts." Kimball refers to each individual piece that comprises the portfolio as an artifact. These artifacts should serve to collectively show the author's development and growth over time. Kimball throughout her article also makes clear that a good portfolio is reflective, meaning the author explains the context of the included artifacts, challenges that were faced along the way, and what he/she has learned. Furthermore, a successful portfolio is not just a mix of artifacts; it is a coherent collection of artifacts that together serve a specific purpose, and serve to satisfy certain goals. Portfolios should also show concrete proof of abilities, and be a demonstration of the authors abilities.

In the latter half of the article, Kimball focuses explicitly on web portfolios. I anticipate that reviewing the content of this section of this chapter will be extremely helpful to me in the coming weeks as I prepare my own web portfolio. Kimball begins his discussion of web portfolios by introducing the elements that a typical web portfolio follows: A home page that introduces the web portfolio as a whole, a series of pages linked to the homepage that introduce and reflect on the individual artifacts within the portfolio, along with a series of digitized examples of the authors work. (Kimball 11) Kimball next moves on to discussing what constitutes a good web portfolio. He points to the successful practice of rhetoric as being key in the process of creating a good web portfolio: "To create successful portfolios,then, authors must practice rhetoric- the art of convincing someone about something" (Kimball 21). I liked hearing this, as I am a Writing and Rhetoric major. I hope to use this final project of creating a web portfolio as an opportunity to improve upon the skill set necessary to be a successful student within the Writing and Rhetoric major. Kimball goes on to state that in creating a good web portfolio, the author must use textual as well as visual components to be successful. Kimball highlights 3 primary rhetorical forms that are important in a good web portfolio: Textual, visual, and structural. The textual component of the web portfolio must use words to convince the given reader that the author has fulfilled the readers standards of quality. Good web portfolios also use text to introduce individual artifacts, and explain the context of them, and the process by which they were developed. Kimball also states that it is important for a web portfolio to include the authors own, honest opinion of the content of the portfolio. Finally, the portfolio should contain clear, concise, and professional writing throughout.

Next Kimball discusses how a good web portfolio is visually rhetorical as well. The visual presentation of the web portfolio should help the reader see the content better, not distract them from it. Kimball presents the following as key visual characteristics that should be employed by any author looking to craft a good web portfolio: - Subtlety - Consistency -Clear Navigation -Straight forward page layout - Legibility and Ease Of Reading -Thoughtful Use of Emphasis -Careful Use of Color

Finally Kimball states that a good web portfolio is structurally rhetorical as well, meaning that the manner in which the website is structure (linear, hierarchical) works to best serve the portfolios overall function, purpose, and appearance.

I thought this was a great chapter, and I know for a fact it is going to be helpful for me. Upon learning what our final project in the class was going to be, I was very nervous because it is the type of thing that is definitely my weakness. I am not good at website design, but after reading Kimball's article my confidence has been boosted. I think this chapter is going to be beyond helpful for me to look back to and essentially use as a guide/rubric in the process of creating my web portfolio.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Social Networking for Social Change: Reflective Post # 3

Upon completion of this project, I am fully satisfied with the product my group has produced, and I am also satisfied with my own work and felt I definitely made positive contributions to our Causes page. I felt my blog post was informative and well written, and I also wrote the welcome note for the site. The welcome note is intended to provide any person visiting our site with general information about our cause, and what our purpose/main objective is as a group. Furthermore, the welcome note is intended to inform visitors about the function of each specific component of the site (Blog, forum, events calendar, etc.) Below I have included my welcome note. I feel not only does it demonstrate some of my best work from this project, but it also explains my groups main objectives we aimed to fulfill over the course of our project:

Welcome to Stop The Scams. We invite anyone and everyone to join our cause, whether it is to assist us in spreading awareness, prevent people from falling victim to a scam, or to increase your knowledge about the scams that exist in our society today. We hope that our site will serve as a useful resource to anyone looking to educate themselves and make a difference in a world where scams have become so prevalent. This is the main purpose and goal of our site, and we hope that all of it's applications and features will contribute towards the successful achievement of these goals. Anyone who reads our blog and will surely gain knowledge about some of the most common and dangerous scams out there. Our site will also include an events calendar consisting of regional events relating to our cause. Our discussion forum will open the floor to anyone wishing to comment, share, and discuss their feelings/experience/knowledge relating to any type of scam. We feel that if all users utilize our site properly, we can fulfill our motto, "Together, we can Stop The Scams."

I believe that my groups page and its content fulfills everything outlined in this welcome note. Every component of our site serves to its overall function/goal of helping to inform and protect people from different types of scams. This past Monday's class was a peer review session, during which another group offered their critiques of the draft version of our site. Unfortunatley due to car problems I did not get back to school from Thanksgiving break until late on Monday night, so I missed this important class. However, I communicated with my group via the Sakai forum and they told me that our peer review group had suggested we condense my welcome note draft for the final project. Keith was able to successfully condense my draft in a way that we all feel better serves the site. My group worked extremely well together and we are all satisfied with the outcome of our collective efforts.

This project was a very useful learning experience for me. As I mentioned in a previous post, I do feel very strongly about the potential social networking sites hold as a means of mobilizing people towards any kind of cause/effort. I hope that in the future I will be involved in working for a cause/effort that I feel passionately about. When this time comes, the skills I have learned concerning utilizing the powers of social networking sites will be extremely helpful.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Social Networking for Social Change: Reflective Post # 2

The next step in this project was each member of the group decided a specific type of "scam" that we would each focus upon. Our topic of scams is very broad, and there are countless types of scams out there. I decided to focus explicitly upon identity theft, which is one of the most prominent scams in American society today (it is estimated that around 9 million Americans have their identites stolen each year). I did alot of research on this topic and eventually wrote a blog post which can be found on my groups Ning page. In this post I included some background information along with six simple, easy tips anyone can (and should) take to protect themselves from identity theft. Next we all posted our preliminary blog posts to the Sakai forum and offered each other feedback. All I got was positive feedback from my group so I felt satisfied with my blog post, so I uploaded it onto the Ning page. I felt that this post was definitely a helpful contribution to my groups central purpose which is described at the top of our home page: "Our mission is to inform and motivate those with sincere concern for various scams, as well as empower them to take action for our cause. " At this point in the project my group was working very well together, I was confident in the work I was doing, and I was confident that my groups project was going in the right direction.

Social Networking For Social Change: Reflective Post #1

When this project was first introduced, I liked it alot. As a preface to the project, we read two articles in which two different authors discussed at length issues concerning technology in today's society, social networking sites, and the effects all of these are having on young people in our country. One main point both authors made that I agree with is that social networking sites such as Facebook, MySpace, and Ning, are not being used to their full potential. These sites on which billions of people worldwide present themselves truly do have the potential to serve as a platform for social change, progress, and the mobilization of people towards a common goal. However, young people tend to disreguard or do not embrace these uses, and use Facebook primarily to fulfill social desires, and jump at the oppurtunity to customize a personality as they like in this forum.

For these reasons, I was excited for this project. I recognize the power social networking sites have as a vehicle for social causes and social change, and I looked foward to using this project as an oppurtunity to learn how to successfully do this.

Next we were put into groups. Each group would choose their cause that would be the focal point of the groups Ning page. My group decided our cause would be scams of al sort. This was not one of my ideas that we had thought of on our own prior to the project, but I liked the idea as I agree that scams are a major problem in our society that millions of Americans fall victim to each year. At this point in the project I was looking foward to researching and learning about scams, and furthermore contributing to my groups page in ways that would be helpful for anyone looking to learn about and protect themselves against different scams.

The layout of Ning initially confused me, however the "Ning tutorial" that was posted on the Sakai page, as well as help from Ms. Portman helped me understand the way Ning works much better.