Hacking Rhetoric

Observations and Presentations

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Two important things in this post:

1. Presentation guidelines.

2. Notes on observations and Learning Records.

You want to read this!

First off, real fast, if you haven’t already noticed: I’ve posted a set of guidelines for your presentations. (These are also linked from the Syllabus/Assignments page and on the Schedule.) If you have questions, comments, suggestions, requests for change, please let the class know–we can be flexible.

Secondly, Learning Records. As I mentioned in class today, one frequent omission from the mid-term Learning Records y’all submitted were a set of ‘observations’ to complement the portfolios of formal work you’ve put together.

Observations are meant to be brief snapshots of what you’ve noticed about your activity related to the class OR to the course goals OR to goals you’ve set for yourself related to the class. You should be gathering these over the course of the term and creating your own consistent record of your activities, so that when it comes time to write your final Learning Record, you’ll be able to refer to specific details about your participation in class, your reading, your research, your thought processes, etc.  Note that these are all ‘active’ things–observations should cover stuff you did, not stuff that happened to you.

These should be brief (2-3 sentences is fine), descriptive, dated (again, so you can be specific) and positive–don’t use them to beat yourself up for not doing or knowing something! Instead, consider documenting something you’ve accomplished (however small), figured out or demonstrated you knew. You can refer to events, discussions and activities both in- and outside of class.

You should be aiming to make at least one observation a week–two is probably better–and keeping a consistent record of them. When it comes time to write your final Learning Record, you should curate a selection that exemplify your development over the course of the semester … just as you curate a selection of your composed pieces that best reflect the work you’ve done. You shouldn’t be handing in dozens upon dozens of observations (or, for that matter, work samples), but rather picking and choosing the ones that best support the argument you make in your Learning Record.

A couple of samples you might like to use as models (taken from real Learning Records; my comments in [square brackets]). These run about 4 sentences and have a lot of descriptive detail; they’re also frequently ‘compound observations’, with a couple of things identified in a single day. You can definitely go a little smaller if you want–single events in two sentences, for example.

9/16/13[dates are important]- We discussed the readings we had from the night before[direct connection to course material]. “The Hacker School Experience” and “Feminist Hackerspaces as Safer Spaces” sparked my thinking of women stereotypes in the hacking world. I realized that I also had always considered men the hackers [reflects on past knowledge/existing beliefs], but I realized women were just as capable [developing new understanding]. My opinions of what a hacker was started to change.

10/7- This was another discouraging class day for me. The articles about Wikileaks and Manning were confusing for me. I had to research a good amount of the terminology that was used in these articles [documenting research beyond the course requirements]. However, this caused me to realize that the material won’t always come easy to me, and sometimes I just need to do a little more work to understand it [reflecting on experience as a learner].

10/9-We discussed Anonymous, which I found very interesting. I wrote a blog article on this subject, and I received a response that was a little discouraging. However, I read the response and it truly helped me understand in more depth what Anonymous was [learning from peers is awesome]. We worked on Popcorn Maker, which I LOVED. I learned that I have more technology skills than I thought [realizing existing experience is useful].

What not to do (made up out of my head):

Thursday[date?]–received peer review feedback [describes an event that happened to you, not something you did]

10/2–I didn’t participate in class today because it was boring [negative], but I beat my high score on Candy Crush [positive, but not related to the course]

11/4–I skipped doing the readings to watch the game, so I was confused in class today. I really should have stayed up ’til 4am to finish reading.

9/28–This was a couple of weeks ago, so I don’t really remember the details [all the evidence from cognitive science, psychology and education research suggests that if you don’t write these down within 48 hours of them happening, you’ll forget / get confused / unconsciously embellish details], but I’m pretty sure I asked a smart question in class this day [too vague to be useful].

In addition, I’ve put some longer explanations of the dimensions of learning up on the Learning Record page. This is all material we covered at the beginning of the semester, but it seems like you’ll be more comfortable with a refresher and a written reference.

Hope this all helps! And again, please remember to make an appointment to meet on Monday. These 15-minute individual meetings replace our class meeting for the day. They’re very short, so please come prepared having read my feedback on your papers and with any specific questions you may have.

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One thought on “Observations and Presentations

  1. I just wanted to note that you used “y’all”. Congratulations, you’ve been successfully indoctrinated as a Texan!

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