In the End…

  • How can digital media that enables connection, creation, and collaboration enable us to better fulfill a school/ campus/ organization’s mission/ enact our values?

Digital media that enables connection can help people build a better understanding of one another. In Engagement in a Time of Polarization, we discussed how difficult it can be to create meaningful connections in this political climate especially with digital media. But through discussions and videos there was an emphasis on deep listening; listening to develop a deeper understanding of someone’s perspective/experiences instead of listening to immediately respond. This is something I truly believe UW Bothell could benefit from. With UW Bothell’s core values and mission statement emphasizing inclusive culture- building an inclusive and supportive learning community, UW Bothell could utilize digital media to build better connections and collaboration especially with students. This utilization could also lead to better communication and transparency between students and administration. One recent example at UWB that I feel is the start of better understanding of students is the social media campaign the Diversity Center had that welcomed UWB students to share their identities with the hashtag #ibelongUWB. Though this campaign didn’t get the most engagement, I thought the idea and message around it were great. I think the engagement was low because UWB doesn’t do many social media campaigns and students are still learning about the Diversity Center itself. But this type of use of digital media could potentially help build better bridges between students and the administration.

  • What are some limitations in the potential of digital media for enacting our mission and values?
Some limitations in the potential use of digital media in enacting the mission/values are definitely the high risk of miscommunication and messaging mishaps. I feel some of the biggest problems especially for UWB have been through the messaging especially via email. When I think of this issue I think of intentions versus impact. I truly believe may the intentions of the messages are good but the impact the messages have with students is not realized and then students become distrustful of the administration and it become a vicious cycle. If digtal media is utilized in the future, the administration would need to provide technical training and training non equity and inclusion specifically on how to converse with students from marginalized and diverse backgrounds. As much as I feel digital media could potentially build better connections between students and the administration, the implementation and utilization of it would have to be thoroughly throughout. But I strongly feel UWB needs to work on their messaging and impact with students before exploring the uses of social/digital media.

Polarization at UWB

This is the prompt for my last discussion of the #engageMOOC online class: What does polarization currently look like in YOUR workplace, or campus, or community…online and off? What resources are you turning to in order to try to deal with it? Is there anything you are currently engaged with that you can share with us? I was mostly interested in this course because the polarization at my campus has been so visible. In the last month there have been two hate crimes against Muslim students and it has created a lot of tension between our students and our administration. The students, especially Muslim students, have expressed their concerns of safety and their disappointment in response from the administration. This was publicly discussed during a town hall meeting after one of the incidents. The administration was very dismissive and defensive when students expressed their opinions. This is what bothers me; the lack of empathy, listening and understanding from the administration. When administration acts like this the students don’t feel heard and feel ignored. I feel this is what creates the tension and the increasing polarization at UWB. How I try and help build a bridge between students and administration I’ve talked to students like the Muslim Student Association, engaged with my departments’ Diversity Committee on how to listen to students needs while working with administration, worked with faculty who have talked to our administration to try and help each group come together and openly talk about the issues- create transparency. The Diversity Center at UWB also created a social campaign to let students tell their stories and help build community. The campaign was called “I Belong at UWB: Narratives of Identity, Hope and Community.” I really loved this response because it gave an opportunity for students to share their stories, identities and show the campus who goes here. I hope we can create an environment where students and administration can have open discussions and deeply listen to students concerns. Below is the poster for the campaign: IBelongUWB

Real vs Fake: Information Literacy

For the #engageMOOC class, we were challenged to use Mike Caulfield’s Four Moves and a Habit which helps readers discern what the truth is in what they are reading online and help with their digital literacy (steps below).

Caulfield_s_4_Moves

For this challenge I went to his blog and chose an activity to show how the four moves worked. The activity I chose was to verify if a photo of Vladmir Putin was surrounded by other leaders including Trump at an international conference (see below).

4Moves

My first instinct was to reverse Google image search the image and see where the image came from. The first thing that comes up from this is a suggested word search for the image which is “g20 trump putin fake” which made me instantly realize this picture was fake. When I first saw the image on the blog it definitely looked suspicious, the biggest clue for me was the closeness of Putin’s head to the guys leaning behind him- I felt it was fake from the get go. But I was curious to see what came up when seeing the origins of the image. With the reserve image search, the first link that came up was a link to CNN regarding that G20 summit but did not include the image itself but included other images with Trump and Putin but cited them from Getty images which is a trusted source. The five links under that link were all regarding the circulation of the fake photo and how it was going viral. The links regarding the image being fake also provided the original image from Getty image which did not have Putin in the middle but instead just an empty chair. After finding the evidence that the photo was fake from sources like BusinessInsider and CNN, I decided to do a regular google search with “g20 trump putin fake” which came up with the altered photo in the images section and with similar links stating the image is fake. It also provided links and images with Trump and Putin’s actual conversation at the summit. While doing this research I thought about the Four Moves and it really helped me think about the sources and to dig a little deeper when looking at images or stories online.

Polarization Positive?

When thinking of polarization it is really hard for me to think of how polarization could be useful or even helpful. Because when I think of it I go straight to the negative- targeting, attacking, close minded, etc. I would like to say that I could find polarization useful by making people very opinionated but these opinions can become so deeply rooted it becomes hard for others to form their own opinions when extreme opinions become viral and so deeply embedded in a community or a society. So even though being opinionated can be good, when these opinions become a societal norm it’s not an opinion it’s the difference between “accepted” and “different.” And this is what makes polarization harmful, when opinions that are racists and bigoted becomes the norm, it’s accepted and difficult for people to see why it is harmful.

Is an Open Mind Impossible?

When I imagine a ‘random encounter’ I almost don’t feel like it is random per se, more like an encounter waiting to happen. My image of a random encounter, online or offline is browsing Facebook and realizing someone you know also knows someone else you know but you didn’t realize they knew each other. This same scenario also happen offline especially in a University environment when you are likely to have crossing circles of acquaintances. But like I said, I feel like there is not so much ‘randomness’ nowadays because circles and networks are becoming so intertwined and online connections are just becoming more global. The second question is interesting and so difficult for me to have a straight answer. Because on one hand I want to say yes, of course we (I don’t even know what I mean by ‘we’…) can approach the “other” with an open mind because if you can’t have an open mind then how are we ever truly going to progress in society. Though it can be so difficult when you feel you are trying to empathize with someone but they are not reciprocating, or even trying to understand your own perspective. So, I believe it is definitely possible but if there isn’t reciprocation it becomes an emotional draining interaction. BUT without it there is no progress so I guess we have to start somewhere. Unfortunately, it is difficult for me to think of positive random encounters. The one that sticks out in my mind was a professional development workshop where I was grouped with a man who was my complete opposite, politically and personally. He was very scowl-y, negative and very outwardly conservative. Another table mate brought up her experiences with undocumented students and he refused to engage and he didn’t “understand why we had to talk about it.” Working at a public university this is something that is often discussed because at least at the University of Washington we emphasis the importance of supporting ALL of our students so this was a bit shocking. These are the types of encounters that are very draining, you try to express your opinion but then they won’t budge or even pretend to budge on their own agenda. This is what keeps the polarization. Going back to the second question, having an open mind is absolutely necessary at least to try to build a better understanding of one another.
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