Final Reflection

Each topic of this module seemed like critical individual incidents of learning, and as such I am employing Strategy 1 to surgically reflect on my progress throughout the module. I will preface my reflection with a completion of my Digital Literacies Self-Test.

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‘Digital Literacies Self-Test’, Graphic by Tom Pethick, 2018.

I want to dive deeper into exactly what changed to cause this universal growth in digital literacy, however, and will do so through four strands of reflection.

Factual Strand

The module gave me a three-dimensional look at the sprawling notions of digital literacy, identities and employability, as evidenced by this graphic:

Topic Overview.png
‘What Happened and What I Learnt’, Graphic by Tom Pethick, 2018.

As the module elapsed, an engagement with the blog community became more vital to my growth in the learning environment. As the process went on, evidencing individual progress to your contemporaries became imperative – whether that meant using a wider range of academic sources or including better and more detailed visual elements.

Each topic was a small turning point in the progress of the module, but significant turning points and events came at two times. Firstly, the negative results of my work on the Introductory Topic. The pieces just weren’t good enough, and emboldened the high standards of the module, kicked me into gear, and clarified the ‘Write-Comment-Reflect-Assess’ process. The second turning point came in the form of clarity in thinking during writing Topic 1, especially about the Digital Divides engendered in my cousins as a result of their social background. It made me more engaged, more focussed and made me connect the academic theory of the topics to matters close to my heart.

Retrospective Strand

Hindsight is a wonderful thing, and although I would change a lot of my actions throughout this module, it’s important to note that my missteps have been as important as anything in my learning. However I should have included more audio-visual elements in my work. I created graphics by trying to figure out what suited the tone of content best, instead of providing the most information as succinctly as possible in a video. Additionally, creating specific and engaging titles and leading images for my blogs may have increased my colleagues’ interaction with my posts and bolstered my learning potential. Nic does this very well with his blogs, as have Tom Paterson and Doug Morgan.

The module has given academic language with which to express to others the dangers and benefits of digital life. However, my biggest learning curve was an acute exposure to how others use the web. This has refreshed an appreciation for both the internet itself, and also the digital achievements of those who don’t regularly use the web. In essence, this module has made me a more concerned and engaged web-user, and prouder of my Nan for persevering in using Facebook. I expand on this below:

Sub-Stratum Strand

I want to use this sub-stratum strand to discuss my interaction with the learning methodology of UOSM2008. University swings violently back-and-forth between self-learning and group learning. A significant way that this module has extended my learning is through the eradication of those various environments. The module is continually happening, as opposed to something you work towards, then do, then work towards, then do. I explore my continual methodological approach below:

‘How I Approached A Topic’ – Audio by Tom Pethick, 2018.

I began this module as a sceptic of the network approach to learning that we were using. My mind has been changed. This module has been a lesson in ensuring to work hard, to read widely and to think creatively when approaching any assessment. The online platform isn’t a method of hiding away behind little work. The interaction with peers, and the non-anonymous nature of the module, has driven everyone to get better and better. Blogs and MOOCs can act as sites of collective learning, depositories not only of the convenor’s knowledge, but everyone’s. The module has made me realise that digital learning can be as personal as a seminar and as visual as a lecture, has developed my online curiosity, and has made me more rigorous with online references and sourcing – something that’s been vital in writing my dissertation.

Connective Strand

Certainly this module has laid the foundations of an approach to the internet that I will carry on beyond university. It has made me tighten my online security; subscribe to e-learning platforms; has made me widen my filter bubble and explore a range of verifiable opinions; has made me conscious of the difficulties facing others in using the internet – whether that’s social, mental or physical. It’s clear from this module that the web is a rapidly changing concept and platform, and beyond this semester and module I must continue to stay vigilant and attentive to the changing discourses of digital literacy.  

This module – total network learning – is evidence of an increasing institutional digital shift. Workplaces will soon be dependent on digital skills. This module not only proves a digital literacy, but evidences a theoretical engagement with the notion of digital literacy itself, a distinguishing feature for employers. The video below is a fantastic summation of the step-up digital literacy can give you in employment. (David Timis, 2017).


UOSM2008 has forced me to engage with the platforms, the terminology and even the dangers of the world that I am likely to work in and make a living through in the years to come. It has been an invaluable process to learn from my peers, and our collective insights are something I am bound to revisit in the future.

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De Cossart, D., & Fish, D, Cultivating a thinking surgeon: New perspectives on clinical teaching, learning and assessment, (Shrewsbury: TFM Publishing Limited, 2005).

Fair Nic, UOSM2008 Page, <>.

Futurelearn, ‘Digital Differences – inequalities and online practices’, Futurelearn, 2018, <>.

Morgan, Doug, Doug Morgan’s UOSM2008 Blog, <>.

Paterson, Tom, Tom Paterson’s UOSM2008 Blog, <>.

Timis, David, ‘Why Digital Skills Matter’, TEDx Targu Mures, <>, (2017).

Waring M., & Evans, C, Understanding pedagogy: Developing a critical approach to teaching and learning, (New York: Routledge, 2015).



Reflections on Topic 3

This topic has shown quite how vital identity management is online, especially as much of this UOSM2008 cohort leave university and move into employment. (BBC, 2013). It has underlined the permanence of the web: actions taken online cannot be wholly erased, and can be easily read out of context if your identity doesn’t prevent unwanted attention. It has emboldened how digital identities sit on a spectrum of oppositional advantages and disadvantages


Emily’s blog solidified my understanding of the topic immensely and made me question the correlation between internet usage and the benefit of multiplicity of identity. Both my and her experience found that the benefits of multiple online identities are somewhat proportional to how much one uses the internet. My comment on Chloe’s blog also raised the notion that accounts become increasingly distinguishable the more they are used, an idea that she supported in her response. 

Emily’s discussion of the separation of private and personal online identities also underlined the potential benefit of anonymity online – excluding social and professional platforms where friends or employers need to recognise personality.

Chloe’s blog excellently contextualised some of the topic’s theoretical debate in real-life practice. Her reference to the infamous ‘Sacco-Sacking’ underlined the dangers of multiple identities online, but also raised the issue of personality fraud: how someone can build a persona of themselves online that is totally removed of their actual identity. Her article recommendation in her response surmised this excellently:

Click on a Better You
A screenshot of part of Chloe’s recommended article.

This topic has been about how you present yourself online and how that can affect your web usage. It’s left me warier of not only identity theft, but identity-editing. In life, people can make change and often do, but  ‘Cleaning up your online reputation’ isn’t something that happens with a reform of personality – it’s part of the everyday. (USA Today, 2013).

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My Comment on Emily’s Post.

My Comment on Chloe’s Post.



‘Cleaning up your online identity’, USA Today, (2013), <>.

‘Job hunting: how to promote yourself online’, BBC, (2013), <>.

Devlin, Dory, ‘Take Control of Your Online Identity’, Real Simple, <>.

Online Identities – Choices and Dangers

A near unlimited access to the internet allows a user a nearly unlimited amount and personalisations of online identities. But how dangerous can one, some, or many online identities be?

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‘Dangers of Various Online Identities’ – Image by Pethick, 2018.

But what about the benefits? Listen for more information:


The advantages and disadvantages of the various online identities can therefore be seen as points on a spectrum, as represented in this diagram:

Spectrum Identity
‘Spectrum of Online Identity’ – Image by Pethick, 2018.

What Identity Should You Have?

Identity depends on your required use of the internet. For instance, it is my intention to become a full-time filmmaker, working frequently online and using the internet as the main tool of acquiring and fulfilling work. Having a universal, single online identity is vital in selling my qualities to a possible customer: if my work, my attitude and my personality is on show across several social medias and websites, they are more likely to engage my services. Videography is a portfolio-driven industry, and requires a homogeny between content and contact. Note this example portfolio – one page includes content, social media and contact details.

Screenshot from Alex Stone’s Cinematography Portfolio (2018)

Most professionals, however, are more than their work. As such, even the most ‘interest driven’ (Krotoski, 2012) filmmakers working on the web operate under multiple identities: whether that is having personal and professional accounts, or varying the functionality of websites to alternate between what Torres and Costa call ‘persona’ interaction and ‘presentation’. (Torres & Costa, 2011). Dijck, similarly, compares the use of Linkedin versus Facebook as ‘Self Promotion’ versus ‘Self Presentation’. (Dijck, 2013).

Thus the benefits of various identities are multi-dimensional. But largely, if one is using the web as a connector of peoples, whether for professional or private purposes, having a single or minimal multiple identities is useful. If one’s use of the web is more ‘interest driven’, then it is clear that multiple and separate identities are vital to navigating your career.

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Costa, C., & Torres, R., ‘To be or not to be, the importance of Digital Identity in the networked society’, Revista Educação, Formação & Tecnologias, <>, (2011), pp.47-53.

Davis, M.R., ‘Students Create Fake Online Profiles to Bully Peers’, Education Week, <>, (2012).

van Dijck, J, ‘You have one identity: performing the self on Facebook and LinkedIn’, Media, Culture & Society, 35(2), (2013), pp.199-215.

Krotoski, A., ‘Online identity: is authenticity or anonymity more important?’, The Guardian, <>, (2012).

Lee, N., ‘Having multiple online identities is more normal than you think’, Engadget UK, <>, (2016).

Tranberg, P., ‘Fake It – to control your digital identity’ [Video] <>, (2013).


Reflections on Media Reliability and Authenticity

Our exploration of ‘Digital Differences’ in the last topic alluded to cracks in the fabric of the internet (Futurelearn, 2018). This topic has shown exactly how those cracks can be exploited, opinions rigidified and even worsened over time. The reliability and authenticity of sources of information is paramount in fast-paced, ever-changing online discourse. The dangers of inauthentic sources have become clearer through this topic: agendas can be pushed; falsehoods can become truths.

I have fallen into the trap – citing an unverifiable slice of an otherwise invalid blog in my Digital Differences blog in order to “confirm” my own opinion. As such, this topic has been the perfect one to correct the course of my work and to underline the dangers of the internet.

The breadth of discourse on this topic was immense, and as I had focussed so much on broadcast media’s subtle reaffirmation of agendas through manipulation of the ‘Overton Window’ and through graphics, the range of blogs nurtured a wider understanding of the topic.

Adrian’s blog – especially his clear graphics – solidified my understanding of the key terms of the topic, notably that of the ‘Echo Chamber’ and the ‘Filter Bubble’. However, my challenging of his idea that echo chambers are ‘forming out of our hands’ has not yet been rebutted, and reinforces my own notion that web platforms must own some responsibility and show their users a range of views and information.

Stephanie’ blog – and her follow ups to my comment – revolved around the importance of media literacy. Our debate reaffirmed the importance of comedy in allowing people light relief on difficult issues. Indeed, comedy has become one of the most vital platforms of discourse and allows audiences to ingest and digest important information through entertainment.

‘Political satire only works when it’s able to describe the world as it actually is’ (Carlos Maza, 2017). Trapped inside filter bubbles and echo chambers, and with endless agendas and media spins, often the world simply needs to be accurately described.

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Maza, Carlos, ‘Comedians have figured out the trick to covering Trump’, Vox, April 2017,  <>.

Futurelearn, ‘Digital Differences – inequalities and online practices’, Futurelearn, 2018, <>.


My comment on Stephanie’s Blog.

My comment on Adrian’s Blog.

Assessing Reliability and Authenticity on the Web: Mainstream Media

Online news can take many forms, but I want to focus on the reliability of mainstream network media in their broadcasting and online platforms.

The ‘decreasing objectivity’ of online platforms have made the web a polarisation machine. (Simpson, 2012) Politically, for instance, the right tend more towards the right; and the left towards the left. As Digital Differences also showed, online divisions occur as a result of macro and microscopic schisms, including differential online exposure to political materials. The word agenda is thrown about considerably in modern news parlance, but understanding exactly where each author or news outlet sits on the political spectrum is a quick method of distinguishing the reliability and authenticity of news articles on polarising issues.

Fox’s Sean Hannity’s take on the release of the Nunes Memo last month.
NBC’s Stephanie Ruhle’s take on the release of the Nunes Memo last month.

Don’t Be Conned By Graphics

As the MOOC eluded to, visual data can be a quick and deceptive way to mislead. Size and brightness of graphs or objects definitively ‘outweigh their contextual information’  and graphs like Fox News’ below can trick viewers scrolling down a newsfeed. (Harris & Schwarzkopf, 2011)

Fox News POLL

Considering the raw data, and making graphs appropriate of the facts they represent, lessens the extent of misrepresentation of information. The graph below is how Fox News should have presented the data.

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Even if, therefore, the source of the data (here, the US Department of Health and Human Services) is reliable, internet users must take the time to assess the authenticity of the representation of such data.

Changing Norms of Information

Societal norms are far different today than when major media outlets were founded, and their principled coverage of events can sometimes be manipulated through rapid and radical changes in discourse. Listen below for more information:




Bad news spreads faster than good news, fake news spreads faster than the truth. Truly, the best way to ensure what you read is reliable is by understanding the agendas of the platforms on which it is released, and by considering wider debates – regardless of how fundamentally opposed they are to your own views.

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Collins, Keith, ‘The Most Misleading Charts of 2015, Fixed’, Quartz, December 2015, <>.

Harris, Julia, Chen, Song & Schwarzkopf, Samuel, ‘Contextual Illusions Reveal the Limit of Unconscious Visual Processing’, Association for Psychological Science, Vol. 22March 2011, <>, pp.399-405.

Maza, Carlos, ‘How Trump makes extreme things look normal’, Vox, December 2017, <>.

Simpson, Thomas W. (2012). “Evaluating Google As An Epistemic Tool”. Metaphilosophy. 43.4: 426–444.

Vosoughi, Soroush, Roy, Deb & Ara, Sinan, ‘The spread of true and false news online’, Science, Mar 2018: Vol. 359,<>, pp. 1146-1151.

Wyatt, Samatha, ‘Dishonest Fox Charts: Obamacare Enrolment Edition’, Media Matters for America, March 2014, <>.

Reflections: Topic 1

The writing and research of the two blog posts have alerted me entirely to the notion of digital differences. Before this topic, I was somewhat blind to the idea that the web – as an interface – is less accessible to even those right around me, and that even those with similar accessibility to me can be affected differently. Gender, religion, sexuality and more change the lens with which one views the internet.

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As several comments on my own post have shown,  I focussed heavily on socio-cultural elements of digital difference.  Reading both Luke and Emily’s blogs highlighted to me the various macroscopic and microscopic elements of the topic. Macro political, economic or cultural issues can be more affecting of national and international digital divides. My comment on Emily’s post underscored, however, that digital communities are often measured not by proportion, but by volume: it would be simple to correlate the mass of internet users in China and India with their economic growth, but their neither nation has more than 54% of citizens active online.

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Table showing internet usage by nation. Note the low ranking of India and China, despite having large numbers of people online.

Further research and thought from Emily’s replies also outlined the importance of infrastructure to minimising digital differences – limited, but universal, access to internet is far superior to great, but restricted, access to the web.

Internet Users per 100000
Graph showing the correlation between economic development and internet usage.

My debate with Luke as to the validity of making ‘high-speed internet’ a ‘human right’ reinforces, however, the sensitivity of my own arguments. By making high-speed internet a human right, access to such must be available to all. To have that for those disabled means massive investment into internet usability.

Research and reflection on this topic has mostly taught me that digital differences, above anything else, are markers of a modern nation’s infrastructural and social stability. The less the divide, the better the access and people’s tolerance of others.

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Read my comment on Luke’s post.

Read my comment on Emily’s post.


Digital Differences

Many assume that everyone uses the internet in similar ways. Indeed, my use of ‘everyone’ underlines how blind some can be to the idea that in 2017, 9% of the UK population had never used the internet. Using the internet isn’t a highly specialised skill, but it is a highly individualised one. Web usage is contextual — it depends wholly on its relevance to one’s everyday life, and is directly affected by the implications of class, gender, ethnicity and social standing. 

Those with less access to internet use the web differently: it’s difficult to be a digital ‘resident’, for instance, if you cannot frequently digitally engage. (Cornu & White, 2011). Inability to access consistent internet service ranges from social standing to even religious reasons: US internet usage ‘directly correlates with no religious affiliation’. Research on this topic has reminded me of the difference between myself and my cousins’ internet usage, affected directly by consistency of connection. I describe a little more in this soundbite:


As Lutz and Hoffman state, comfortability on the web also affects how people use it. This adds another dimension to the Visitors vs Residents thesis: if you are cyber-bullied, you’re more likely to only use the internet in a visitorial capacity; if you enjoy the internet, you’re more likely to use it in a residential capacity.

Digital differences can simply, however, boil down to one’s ability to function an operating system. In 2015, 27% of disabled adults have never used the internet, compared to just 11% for non-disabled. In terms of hardware, there certainly has been growth in designing technology specifically for disabled demographics, and this can be hugely empowering and integrating, making disabled people feel part of a wider community.

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The EyeGaze Edge, an assistive tablet that moves a cursor by tracking the movements of the user’s eyes.


But mass market software is yet to catch up, and until it does – following work in Digital Design from those like Elise Roy – this is a digital difference that will continue to divide.

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Christopherson, Robin, ‘Smartphones and people with disabilities: the power and the promise’, Digital Skills and Inclusion, January 2017, <>.

DiDonato, Nicholas C., ‘Internet usage correlates with no religious affiliation’, Science on Religion, <>.

Lutz, C., & Hoffmann, C. P., The dark side of online participation: exploring non-, passive and negative participation’ Information, Communication & Society, 1-22.  (2017).

Office for National Statistics,  <>.

Rust, Elizabeth, ‘How the internet still fails disabled people’, The Guardian, June 29 2015, <>.

White, D. S., & Cornu, A. L. (2011). Visitors and Residents: A new typology for online engagement. First Monday16(9).

Reflection on the Introductory Topic

This module isn’t quite as I had previously assumed. The theories – and the avenue those theories turned me onto – have been interesting and challenging. The fluidity of Cornu and White’s thesis has shown me exactly how I use the internet: how it connects places, times and people dependent on how one would interact with similar places, times and peoples in the real-world. The fact that Visitors and Residents aren’t mutually exclusive affirms this and shows the fluid importance of the internet to different generations, as opposed to the older theories that age defined digital capabilities.  Thus, this introductory topic has given me a vocabulary with which I can express some pre-existing ideas, as well as shedding new light upon my relationship with the web.

Interactions through commenting have further developed my understanding of the topic. After reading both Will and Hong’s blogs, I realised that a deeper question I had was surrounding the validity of Prensky’s original thesis. Both of their responses to my comments, especially Will’s personal account of his own versus his father’s digital literacy, confirmed that Prensky’s argument is increasingly void as technology becomes more integrated and intuitive.

The interaction of this blogging community, having read through much of the work posted, has underscored the vitality of a debate about internet usage to our generation.  However, Hong’s research from my comment on her post also reveals the limited contemporary discussion on this issue. Cornu and White’s theory is already seven years old. How will it hold up against hugely developing smartphones, against further digital integration and against the rise of AI?

Learning these theories, placing ourselves and our activities within the currently accepted scale of digital literacy, has at least begun a small scale discussion, and has given me the tools to approach the debate later in life.

My comment on Will’s Post.

My comment on Hong’s Post.

Visitors and Residents

Growing up with technology and the internet, you never really stop to think about exactly how you use it. It simply exists as part of life. In this way, then, there’s no doubt that I am a Digital Resident – the Web is something of an extension of my own self: it’s a better brain to answer bigger questions, it’s a better source of ideas and information, it stores memories and ideas. But, unlike White and Cornu’s description, I don’t see the Internet as a place. It is not a ‘park’, or a ‘building’ (White & Cornu, 2010). For me, the Web is more of an mediator between real places – messenger bridges spatial gaps between friends; archives save the trip to libraries; forums instead of pin boards.

Self Test PNG

I think my self-test really reflects this. What I enjoy and am passionate offline, I share and push online. Anything outside of my real-life comfort zones, I also steer clear of online. For instance, as a humanities student, I find accessing information easy both online and in the library – I gave this a 4/5. Similarly, in creating graphics and video content, which I regularly do as part of various societies, I ranked 5/5. Similarly, I’ve never kept a diary. And until now, I’ve not really done a blog. In reality, I carefully compartmentalise my schedule into social, university work and extra-curricular activities. Equally, my online identity is compartmentalised: things I do on Twitter are largely separate to what I do on Facebook, on Youtube or Instagram.

Future movement into Virtual Reality seems to be emphasising the web as a mediator between spaces. You can sit on your sofa at home and ride a rollercoaster; you can stand in your bedroom and watch a concert; you can wave your hand and move a lightsaber.

Continue reading Visitors and Residents