After the completion of the digital profile activity, I learned a lot about my skills and knowledge that I hadn’t known prior to going through the process. In regards to finding and using digital tools, and comprising practical and technical knowledge of various tools and technologies, I was proud that I was able to consider myself at least comfortable, as I had always noticed that I lacked in those areas, in comparison to many within my generation. I had always struggled with complex technological applications, and found myself of little knowledge in regards to the use and application of online tools. After reading the article “Knowing the Different Between Digital Skills and Digital Literacies, and Teaching Both” by Maha Bali, I was amazed to learn that I hadn’t known the difference between digital skills and digital literacies. While reading the article, the claim that most interested me and grabbed my attention was that “digital literacies is not about the skills of using technologies, but how we use our judgement to maintain awareness of what we are reading and writing, why we are doing it, and whom we are addressing” (Bali, 2016). I felt like reading this made me put together everything we had learned throughout the semester, and summarize it all, giving it much purpose and meaning. While I am now aware of the difference, I am not able to say that I am confident in my position in regards to digital literacies. I can say that I am now aware of the significance of the why, when, who, and for whom aspects of digital engagement, but, though I am aware of the demands and requirements of digital literacies, I, myself, am not interested in their application, as I am often inactive digitally. Aside from academic content, in my personal life, I often prefer handwriting and real life conversations, refraining from active online conversations and the sharing of ideas. I don’t own a twitter account, and when people share their opinions on controversial issues through other social media platforms, I am often an observer, and not a participator. Throughout this course, I was gladly able to improve myself by actively practicing and engaging in activities which required digital tools and literacies, and I am proud that I was able to gain the skills to say that I improved from close to no knowledge, to some knowledge on how to find and use online applications and tools. Prior to the completion of this activity, I had considered myself very skilled at communication and collaboration, but hadn’t really assessed the skill in digital contexts, so when I did, I found that I was only competent and not confident. This is mainly, and as I mentioned previously, because I am not a very vocal person on online platforms, and often am uncomfortable with the ideas of engaging in conversations with unfamiliar people, or even in general, in an online setting, and so, never really needed to be very knowledgable in that area. I found that I am confident when it comes to identity and wellbeing as I am very cautious and aware of online threats, and the significance of protecting oneself and personal data. I am wary of the content I post, and am able to advise others of the measures to protect oneself, especially given the digital location, audience, and purpose of the content being shared, even more so now, with my gained knowledge about the existence and importance of digital literacies in contrast to mere digital skills.
I chose the taught path because I felt like it was the one that most grabbed my attention, and had a variety of options to choose from. The first station I chose was the one concerned with presentation skills. For the second station, I chose the one concerned with online identity.
- Presentation Skills
Within the station, I chose the topic related to effective delivery, as I often struggle with public speaking, and tend to get very anxious and stressed. For that reason, I am likely to speak more than I should, get lost, stand stiffly, and speak quickly, causing the audience to lose track of what I’m saying, ending up becoming confused.
After completing the session, I acquired a lot of information and tips that I hope could help me on my next presentation. Amongst the things I learned, the most important was the significance in standing out in the open, in front of the audience, hand gestures, smiling, and body language that portrays enthusiasm towards the topic. Then, I learned about the importance of engaging and connecting with the audience to keep them interested and active. It is important that the presenter ask their audience whether they understand, especially after discussing a complex point, and be considerate of their needs and how well they are accommodated. Then, there was significance in maintaining a loud, clear, steady paced, and varied pitch voice to stress enthusiasm and avoid the tone from becoming boring to the audience. When looking back at all my presentations and all the times I presented, I noticed how much I might have bored my audience, as I often tended to speak in a monotone due to my elevated anxiety, and my wanting to finish in the quickest time possible.
To reduce anxiety and nervousness while presenting, it’s important to reduce the uncertainty about content needed to be presented. To do that, one must practice several times to be sure of their confidence in knowing the content and the correct things to say when presenting. I related to this point very much because I, myself, tend to procrastinate very much and often, I don’t practice or go over the content, and this leads to me being very nervous and uncertain while presenting. Also, often times, because I am uncertain, I end up reading off of the slides, which results in a loss of points due to conveyed unprofessionalism. Then, I learned about the TRAC method which deals with interactions with the audience, and individuals who ask questions during the presentation. TRAC stands for thank, repeat, answer, and check. It is beneficial to thank the questioner, repeat the question, answer the question, and check that you’ve provided every necessary answer to the question asked. Most times, while presenting, and because I don’t practice enough, I tend to avoid taking questions from the audience because it put pressure on me and I get scared that I might not be able to answer, so I need to make sure to prepare well before the presentation, and be ready to take questions and answer then completely.
After presenting, it’s good to reflect on one’s own performance, ask others for feedback, accept criticism, and be open to improvement and adjustment.
2. Online Identity
Within this station, I chose the module involving social media. I learned so much from this module, and gained insight into the necessary considerations needed when utilizing social media platforms. I read about the many types of unacceptable behavior which unfortunately, exists on social media platforms. Harassment, trolling, and bullying are amongst the most common types of unacceptable and hurtful behavior on social media, and unfortunately, I have heard, seen, or experienced all of them. All three behaviors are extremely dangerous, and on most occasions, might lead victims to mental trauma, stress, and might even shatter their confidence. Sometimes, and I’m sure most of us definitely read, heard, or saw it somewhere, such behavior might get out of hand and turn abusive or threatening, which then, turns into a matter of a threat to ones safety and security. Stalking, misogyny, and racism are other types of unacceptable behavior. In Egypt, for example, there is, to an extent, negative conversations and chains of images which degrade Christians, gay people, and dark skinned people, especially those from Sudan. Also, it is not uncommon to find people expressing their disagreement with certain public figures, even those who merely own a social media account with a public status, and posting hurtful and offensive comments on their content. It’s truly saddening and inconsiderate, and it upsets me that some people actually experience this kind of verbal violence and have to go through it. One thing I also read about was sock puppetry which is also known as fake identities, and reading about it, I related a lot as I, myself, had experienced it recently. someone created an account on instagram, pretending to be me, and when I reported it to instagram, the first thing I got was an email telling me that due to the heavy amount of reports, they won’t be able to help me anytime soon. I was scared, and I felt violated and extremely unprotected.
So, to avoid all of this, it might be best to create accounts with a private status, where only close friends and people you know are able to access the account. This is what I do with all my social media accounts, and it has given me control over the accessibility of my data and content, and that gives me a sense of security and safety. Also, it is very crucial to carefully construct the online identity you portray of yourself and think about how you want people to see you, and what parts of yourself you want people to see.
All in all, this assignment was very insightful and I learned a little from it. At first, I thought it was very hard, but after completing it, it actually wasn’t. However, I felt like it was too long and I could have learned the same things in a more enjoyable way. Because it was too long, it got kind of boring midway, but nevertheless, I learned from it some things I could definitely say I will take with me moving forward. For the future, I think we could have done a class activity or even a discussion about the topics in the modules and did something more engaging that would have helped with a more long lasting effect.
https://www.allaboardhe.ie/stations/ https://www.allaboardhe.ie/AAlessons/profiler/story_html5.html https://www.literacyworldwide.org/blog/literacy-now/2016/02/03/knowing-the-difference-between-digital-skills-and-digital-literacies-and-teaching-both