Goodbye (For Now!)

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This blog will mark the conclusion of my blog assignment for this year’s Writing for New Media module.

As blogging is something I have never done before, it was initially a challenging task – getting used to a new style of writing, a different program interface.

However, reflecting on the experience, I have to say that it is one that I have totally enjoyed, and also one that I have learned a great deal from!

I also feel that this is something that I have a keen interest on for the future. The idea of keeping a blog interests me – it is a good way of keeping track of your own thoughts, and allows you to share experiences with other people.

To anyone who read my blog this year, I hope you enjoyed!

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Creating a Website

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As part of the assessment for my Writing for New Media Module, I was tasked with completing a website for a business, an event or something similar. As this was something I had never done before, I was initially apprehensive, and feared that I would struggle with the task.

I opted to create a website for my Dad’s plumbing and heating business (but greatly exaggerated it’s size and reputation!). The tool I used to create this website was Google Sites. A very user-friendly service, this made the experience a lot easier and it was quick to get used to.

I received a great deal of help in the labs for the module which set me on my way to creating the website. I also searched the internet for tips on how to improve your site, and make it look better.

I found this particular website to be very helpful in assisting me – https://www.techradar.com/how-to/internet/how-to-create-a-website-with-google-sites-1309625

When informed that I would be creating a website by the end of the semester, I was initially concerned that this would be too difficult a task for me. However, the experience was one that I thoroughly enjoyed, and I felt a great sense of accomplishment in completing the website.

If you would like to have a look at the website, the published version can be found at https://sites.google.com/site/seanmccannson/home.

Feel free to take a look and let me know what you think!

Have you ever had to create or design a website?

The Importance of Verification in the Age of Digital Media

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One element of Writing in New Media that we focused on in this semester’s module was that of User Generated Content (UGC). UGC is any content that has been posted by users of social media such as images, videos or articles.

In a time where the rapidly emerging problem of ‘fake news’ is being discussed more and more, the importance of verification in relation to online content cannot be understated. 

In an article written for the Guardian, David Robson discussed the susceptibility of the general public to fake news. 

https://www.theguardian.com/books/2019/apr/01/why-smart-people-are-more-likely-to-believe-fake-news

Below are some tips to avoid falling for deceptive articles and content;

  1. Check the author! Ensure the author is a reputable one who has published other content.
  2. Check the author’s sources! Have they provided sources for the information contained in the article? If so, investigate those sources – make sure they are from reliable origins and not just pulled out of thin air. 
  3. Check the images! It is a good idea to check the images contained in the article. An image that has been altered on photoshop can attach serious credibility to a false story so it is very important to be on the look out for photoshopped content. 

Fake news threatens our entire perception of the truth and how we view the news. Take, for example, the damaging effect that fake news is having on the ongoing election in India.

https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2019/04/india-misinformation-election-fake-news/586123/

As a result, it is important to be vigilant and to ensure that the problem of fake news is not one that is present in our society in the future.

Have you ever fallen for a fake article or image?


Tips for Effective Study

As we rapidly approach exam season, here are some tips to help you survive and thrive in the upcoming bedlam of college tests!

Think Smaller

For me, the biggest pitfall I suffer when studying is biting off more than I can chew! Having too much to complete in one sitting has a tendency to overwhelm the person – resulting in procrastination and a drop in efficiency.

Remind Yourself of your Goals

Maintaining consistent motivation is difficult, it is in our nature as humans to endure boring tasks such as studying with little or no enthusiasm! Remind yourself of why you are studying for your exams – do you want to avenge last semester’s results? Do you want to make your concerned parents proud? Do you simply want to pass? Whatever your reason, remind yourself of it regularly while studying. This will help to maintain motivation and keep you on the right track!

Take Regular Breaks

It is close to impossible to maintain a high level of concentration for an extended period of time. It is a good idea to take regular breaks from studying to ensure that you do not burn out! Do something you enjoy – play an instrument, cook a meal – but do not engage in distracting activities such as watching the tv or playing a game on your phone. These are traps that will suck you in and keep you from studying!

Start Now

Finally, start now! Although it may be early for some, it is never too early to begin studying for your exams. Regular studying means that you will have less to do at the end, serving to lessen your procrastination and reduce your nerves. Remember, you will always wish for one more day in the ten minutes before the exam!

The Importance of Technological Literacy in Today’s World.

In our modern world, technology is everywhere. Every single mundane daily task has been either made more efficient as a result of technology, or is automated completely thanks to technology. For example, think of the self-service machines in your local supermarket that have come to prominence in recent years. As a result, the importance of strong technological skills in the modern world cannot be stressed enough.

This semester, I have engaged with technology on a higher level in the modules I have chosen. In particular, as a result of studying this module I feel that I have advanced and developed my digital literacy. Having learned basic coding – HTML – how to write for new forms of media, and having learned about Search Engine Optimisation I feel I have gained a better understanding of some very important technological skills.

As technology continues to develop, our society will continue to move toward technological automation in what is sure to be a heavily computerised world. These skills will become an absolute necessity in order to succeed in such a world.

How are your technological skills? Have you ever attempted to learn how to code? Or is this an area that does not interest you?

Tips to Completing the Perfect (Stress Free) Assignment!

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Having just completed a rather stressful assignment, I thought it would be useful to jot down some of the tips I failed to follow, so that you can succeed by avoiding all the pitfalls I failed to avoid!

Timing

Although somewhat obvious, starting and finishing an assignment at the right time is essential to minimising stress and maximising performance. Don’t leave it too late or you will find yourself racing against the clock and conceding quality in favour of getting the job done!

Planning

Drafting a plan for your essay allows you to stick to a regimented structure in your assignment . This is beneficial as it minimises ‘waffle’ and ensures that you always stay on point.

Endurance

Sometimes you just have to stick it out! Although it may seem like a slog, it is often the case that your creativity will begin to flow as you hit your stride. This is an important part in completing a good essay, particularly one that requires length.

Ask for Help

Finally, do not be afraid to ask for help! You may not always understand what has been tasked to you, and there is no shame in that. Ask your friends, parents, or even your lecturer how they would approach an assignment such as yours. Their experience and knowledge could prove to be the key to minimising stress and ensuring success!

College Life and Social Life – A Perfect Balance

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The preceding week 6 marked ‘RAG week’ in the University of Limerick. A week once celebrated as a week of charity and good-will in colleges around Ireland, it has now become rather infamous for the negative social stereotypes associated with and as a representation of the culture of overindulgence.

When many people of an older generation think of college life, they instantly fondly remember the many nights out they enjoyed in the college bar, enjoyed at the expense of tomorrow’s 9 o’clock lecture. However, it may come as a surprise to some that juggling the work-play balance can be an extremely difficult aspect of college life.

Many people will respond to this problem and opt to focus on their studies, while others will focus on maintaining their social life. However, for people who aim to succeed in both, the key is not allowing one to overly influence the other. 

If I were to offer advice, I would advise you to focus on your studies, they should be of paramount consideration, as well as being the main reason you came to college in the first place! However, it is important to not become so wrapped up in your work that you forget who your friends are.

On the other hand, you should enjoy your nights out in college, we are often told that these are the most enjoyable years of our lives, so we have every right to go out and have fun! However, there comes a point where common sense must prevail, and the majority of people know themselves when it is time to put the head down.

College can be an incredible time for a young person – and reaching the right balance is key to ensuring that!

Rote Learning vs Continuous Assessment

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On a personal level, the fifth week of the college semester signifies something of a turning point in the term. As the semester progresses and intensifies, so too does the workload, and this semester has been no different. 

This semester I have found myself faced with a greater level of continuous assessment – regular assignments, presentations and group-work – than I have previously encountered. This has been an interesting juxtaposition to the rote learning I have become accustomed to in previous years. 

Rote learning certainly has its advantages – its simple, straightforward and requires little room for extra creativity or thought. However, rote learning has its drawbacks, in that it offers little benefit in the long run. For obvious reasons, information that is crammed in in a short amount of time is often forgotten after a short amount of time!

On the other hand, continuous assessment offers a student a chance to showcase their knowledge over a longer period of time. This provides several benefits to the student, in particular to students who may suffer from exam-induced stress. Continuous assessment removes any potential outliers created by the exam situation such as mistakes or bad luck, thereby offering a more accurate reflection of the student’s deserved result. That being said, continuous assessment does not work for everyone. It can be argued that continuous assessment may often be treated by the student as several smaller exams – merely stretching out the exam situation and failing to deal with the problem. 

Overall, I think that both rote learning and continuous assessment offer advantages to the student in different ways. However, they both have their drawbacks. Ultimately, I think the preference for one or the other is a personal and subjective one – it depends on the student!

Returning to the University of Limerick

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I returned to the University of Limerick this year to my second semester of my third year in college. I had just spent the preceding seven months on co-operative placement in a law firm in Dublin, an experience that I thoroughly enjoyed. However, I was quick to find out how just how much I had forgotten about life in college. Having spent the previous semester adjusting to a rigorous routine, I now had to re-adjust to the routine of college life. Attending lectures, labs and tutorials, along with a timetable that doesn’t involve sitting at a desk all day is a big change from what I had grown accustomed to. This re-adjusting period was something that I found difficult initially when starting back this semester. 

Another element I found somewhat challenging on return this semester was returning to the self-reliant nature of college. During Co-Op any work I completed was handed down by employees further up the chain to me and then reviewed by them. However, college is entirely different as there is a certain degree of independence and autonomy placed on the student. While studying, the onus is on the student to attend lectures, determine assignments and due dates, and overall ensure that they are progressing at the correct level in college. I must admit that I have found it hard initially to re-establish myself with this element of college.

Although I have found some elements of college challenging this semester, I have immensely enjoyed returning to UL and look forward to the modules I will be studying this semester!

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