Week Six Reflection

Finding Purpose Anywhere and Everywhere

What an adventure the last month and half has been in terms of my career, education, and really just life in general. I feel as a bevy of opportunities are presenting themselves to me that even a few months ago I would never have expected to arise. Jeremiah 29:11 states, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans for a hope and a future,” (Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.). I found this verse from Scripture about four years ago and do my best to live it through day by day. The hope and the future that God promises is more fulfilling than any plans I could ever imagine for myself, but that does not mean people find it easy to surrender what we can control our lives.

The two years post UD graduation have challenged me to live out this verse in challenging ways. I am not a naturally patient person, so waiting for a phone call from the HR department of a company-especially when unlikely to happen—has not been easy. Working at a job that does not fall within the realm of the career I am passionate about has truly tried my patience. I love reading and writing; I love to learn and be challenged, and explore new ideas, concepts, and activities. But I currently work in a static job that is highly unlikely to encourage career growth, and thus my patience in waiting for those dream career job opportunities seems even further away than before. I like the company I work for, I enjoy working with my coworkers, and I am entirely grateful to be employed and have gained professional experience. However, waiting for the opportunity to pursue a job that is so essential to fulfilling what one is passionate about means that every other experience most likely pales in comparison to one’s dream.

More and more as I continue to grow up and experience what it really means to be an adult I find that my patience is expanding, my trust in God is becoming stronger, and my confidence is developing. I always trusted God—I know that everything He brings me to and through is done for a purpose and that I will grow both spiritually and physically because of those experiences. I am learning, however, that more than just growing in those two areas I also cultivate a deeper understanding of what it means to live my life as a Christian in every aspect of my life. Sure my current employment is not as fulfilling as a writer as I would like, but perhaps I am at this company to reach other people as a friend, spiritual advisor, and confidante. I may not be writing much in my current, but I am developing leadership and computer skills.

For whatever reasons I am at my current job—and I will never know all of God’s reasons—I will continue to do my best an employee and to honor Him because that is really all that matters in life. Trusting Him and having patience in His good will bring about God’s glory: for example, a few weeks ago I was offered a position as an adjunct professor of English at a local college. This position offers a whole new path for me to explore in my professional career, and I am now able to pursue a career amongst a subject I am passionate about. In the meantime, I continue to interact with people with whom I may offer friendship and spiritual advice. I really could not ask to be in a better position in my life right now. God is good!

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Week Five Reflection

Portfolio and Narrative Development

What a week it has been since returning home last Sunday after the Brock-Cornell wedding. Despite my best efforts to stay ahead of the syllabus, this week was filled with many late nights playing around with Web 2.0 tools to enhance my portfolio. How did that happen? I spent four hours the day I left for State College—along with many hours the evenings before my departure day—working on homework precisely so I would not end up in this situation. The life of a graduate student, I suppose. And yet, even with those late nights this past week, I’ve come away with a feeling of success at how my e-portfolio is turning out. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but many times over the last few weeks I’ve found that I am actually enjoying putting together this portfolio. The technological requirements of WordPress, Vimeo, and Youtube continue to frustrate and befuddle me, but the reflection, decision-making, writing, graphic design, and layout provide a lot of enjoyment for someone anxious to use her professional writing education.

I’ve found that one of the best—and continually surprising—elements of the professional writing program at NEC is the expectation that students will push themselves outside of their comfort zone to learn and use new aspects of the profession that before they would have never considered. Many times throughout this program I thought I would never succeed in a certain area of writing, or indeed even enjoy working within that area. New media, e-portfolios, and blogging were all relatively new activities that I was not ready to tackle. How could I, when I just learned how to text-wrap in Microsoft Word or schedule meetings in Microsoft Outlook? Nevertheless, with the patience of my professors and classmates, and my own perseverance I’ve excelled beyond my imaginings in these areas and many others of professional writing. I am grateful for and excited about the possible pathways I can now take with experience in these (and other) new areas.

My e-portfolio is turning out really well. The suggestions in peer reviews of my professor and classmates provided excellent ideas for what to revise and edit in relation to layout, graphics, and content within the portfolio. Now that I know how WordPress works I am pushing myself to experiment with more and more of the website’s features. I hope to explore more of these features in the coming week because all of my content is now uploaded and revised for completion. The resume page needs some work, but as I am out of ideas of how to play with it I’m waiting for feedback from my professor and classmates. I am excited beyond belief about my digital narrative. I really love how the script turned out—again thanks to the peer reviews. The suggestions on revision for the sentences about teaching were invaluable. I spent many hours yesterday uploading pictures and figuring out to work MovieMaker; surprisingly enough, the application wasn’t too difficult to figure out. Thank goodness for built-in microphones on laptops and Audacity. The tutorials on Audacity were not that helpful, but Google provided some good websites for how to use the program. My only pitfall was uploading the narrative to a video site. Thanks to Shea Winton for pointing me in the right direction for my upload.

Only two weeks left to go: onward and upward!

Week Four Reflection

Digitzing an E-portfolio

Each week the assignments in PW 6950 bring about new skills for the students in the class. I’ve been dreading week four of this course: as mentioned in earlier posts, I am not technologically inclined, so an assignment dealing heavily on a student’s computer skills was not appealing to me. I knew coming into this week that I would have to plan ahead, allow for long periods of time on homework, and prepare for a challenging assignment. In addition to working on an assignment way out of my comfort zone, I was wary of this week’s intense workload because I am a maid of honor in a wedding this weekend. My feelings were justified: the homework load this week has kept me crazy busy, and I’m sure that feeling will intensify as the weekend comes along in all its wedding frenzy.

However heavy the homework load, I have still been productive on my assignments this week. The letters with pre-written questions to answer on my classmate’s rough drafts of portfolios were challenging and informative to write. I am planning on using my thoughts in the letters for a self-assessment of my own e-portfolio. In addition, the peer reviews from my professor and classmates provided excellent feedback on my rough draft. The detailed letters should allow for in-depth analysis of what I need to improve upon in my e-portfolio. Both my professor and classmates were critically positive in their reviews. I appreciated their honesty and supportive evaluation of my work. The points that came across all three reviews will definitely be added upon or edited as necessary for improvement in my e-portfolio.

Braving the idea of creating a digital narrative for my e-portfolio, yesterday I wrote my script with pleasant results and feedback from my classmates. I was originally unsure of where I wanted to go with this script: a personal story, an analysis of Pride and Prejudice (my favorite novel and movie of all time), a synthesis of why I love English? I needed something catchy, so I utilized the all-to-familiar question, “What do you want to be when you go grow up,” as a hook for how I became involved in educational professional writing programs. For the most part the script works; however, my astute classmate remarked that my comment about switching to professional writing from a secondary education major could hurt my appeal to employers because I recently became employed as a college professor. She’s absolutely right, and I will revise my script to reflect her comment. I continue to hesitate moving forward in the process of creating my digital narrative because I know the challenge of recording audio and merging text, graphics, and sound follows script writing. What looks to be in-depth directions on creating a digital narrative from Module Two’s folders will hopefully guide me through this process.

Week Three Reflection

Reflection

The third week of the course is moving along nicely for me. The focus of the week being reflection, I  find the workload pleasently fulfilling because the assingments offer a chance for students to really contemplate their progress in the course. My progress on my e-portfolio continues to surprise me. While I am not as far along as some of my classmates in Web 2.0 technology, I am becoming more and more comfortable with WordPress–enough so that I am able to quickly maneuver through the regular movements and should be able to adventure out to more flashy additions of webpages.

I am in the final stages of having rough draft course and assignment descriptions, along with assignment reflections, for each of the documents I am posting on my e-portfolio. Some of these descriptions are more thorough than others; certain courses were easier to write about, while some assignments proved easier to reflect upon than others. In some cases I was able to provide more background into the value of final product, and in other cases I was able to describe the product in relation to its necessity in professional writing. I set up the course pages differently depending on the amount of text I provided for each assignment.

Some of the pages begin with a course description and reflection, and are followed by the assignments. Other pages have assignment reflections under the corresponding link, with a course description at the top of the page. I hope to have my peers review the page layouts and designs, with emphasis on design and layout preference and comments on consistency. In the coming weeks I would like to play with graphics, fonts, and pictures to make sure my pages are not too text heavy.

Week Two Reflection

Navigating Web 2.0

My second week in the course is going well—much smoother than I expected but no doubt the craziness will start up again soon. I spent about six hours on Saturday working on assignments for this class: watching Web 2.0 tutorials, uploading previous assignments to Dropbox, investigating the various tools available on WordPress.com. I am pleasantly surprised to note that—while perhaps not my favorite way to spend a weekend day—time went by fast on Saturday afternoon. At least I wasn’t ready to throw my computer onto the ground (no…I’ve never wanted to do that before over a graduate school assignment, I promise!). If the rest of the weekends between now and June 30th move as smoothly as this past one, I will be a happy young lady.

After navigating through some of the readings for this week’s assignments, I ultimately decided to host my e-portfolio on WordPress.com. I am a concrete learner; I need step-by-step instructions when learning a new concept; I follow a black-and-white philosophy towards learning that leaves little room for interpretation outside of literature. Salt Lake Community College’s video tutorials on creating a WordPress blog were just what my non-tech-savvy mind needed to create my first e-portfolio.

The host of the video tutorials explained the steps to creating an e-portfolio in a basic manner and slow tone that easily allowed even me—someone notorious in her undergraduate studies for struggling with computer literacy—to succeed in making my first web page. In addition, before this class even began I was partial to WordPress.com because one of my best friends—someone who, coincidentally enough, is the most computer-literate person I know—has a Christian poetry blog through the site. I figured in choosing WordPress, if I ran into trouble creating my e-portfolio, I would at least have someone to turn to in person.

I am relatively pleased with the development of my e-portfolio. Obviously some of the excitement comes from knowing I even have an e-portfolio, but more than that is excitement in learning—and successfully—implementing some of the technology WordPress.com users can utilize. I feel a great sense of peace knowing my professor is onboard with the way I hope to implement the design and content of my e-portfolio. As of now I intend to create one general e-portfolio that will display both my academic growth and my best content for marketing purposes. Now that I have a plan in mind and my professor’s support, I can truly concentrate on making the most of my e-portfolio.

Week One Reflection

Learning to Love E-portfolios

The first two days of this class have been overwhelming, to say the least. As we’re not supposed to focus on that feeling in this particular post, I’ll do my best to stay away from the subject. However, the few goals I’ve accomplished so far this week correlate with that overwhelming feeling, so I suppose I’ll have to come back to it at some points. I’m excited so far at the progress I’ve made in the past two days–although I still have a long ways to go to catch up with my classmates. Thankfully my classmates and professor–from previous experiences–are kind, considerate, and helpful individuals whom I anticipate will help me improve upon my tech-naivete. I’m looking forward to becoming more comfortable with Blogger and possibly even expanding upon that to truly becoming creative with blogging in order to enhance my electronic portfolio. I love writing–done correctly, I imagine that reflecting upon and discussing one’s improvements on professional work could enjoyable.
Two days into the course I find myself less-intimidated than I was on Sunday afternoon but still farther behind than I would like to be at this point in my graduate school career. I’ve always strayed from technology-focused courses because I don’t enjoy working with computers all that much. While I might have enjoyed less stress over creating cascading style sheets than my interactive media minor friend, I find I have fallen prey to procrastination. Nevertheless, I trudge on and am enjoying studying my classmates’ blogs/portfolios and find myself eager to create something similar myself. My classmates are talented writers and designers (amongst other identities); their blogs/portfolios are attractive, and I have no doubt the electronic versions of their work will help them succeed in their future endeavors. With practice and determination I hope to someday have an electronic portfolio that mirrors my classmates’ creative achievements. Their current portfolios are not only creative but utilize many of the techniques we’ve learned about in NEC’s program. I’m looking forward to implementing what I’ve learned in the program into my own portfolio and blogs.
The last–and only–portfolio I created was my binder of best work completed between my freshman and junior years of college. This portfolio was created in order to gain placement in UD’s English department’s internship course. In 2010 the department was just beginning to talk about switching over to electronic portfolios; I, along with a few other professors and students, was part of the old-school mode of thinking that hard-copy portfolios beat electronic versions any day. I liked having a hard copy of a portfolio—its tangibility was comforting, and I felt professional and intelligent carrying a binder around, neither of which can occur with electronic portfolios. After viewing the videos and completing the readings required for this week’s module I’m beginning to understand the benefits of electronic portfolios. I may not be as quick to pick up the techniques and quirks unique to blogging and creating electronic portfolios, but I am excited to give the activities my best shot.