Inquiry: Reflect on your learning journey
What can I say? This term has been long, exhausting, fun, challenging, long and exhausting (did I say long and exhausting?).
When I started this term, I was at the point of burning out.
I had been flogging myself for almost three years with my History major. Almost three years of long, complex, adjective-riddled sentences.
Anyway, my point is that I enrolled in this subject, Media Writing, because I wanted a break from history, and a chance to do something a little “easier”.
How wrong I was (pleasantly so, though) that this course would be easy.
I have to say that as a first year subject, it was in some ways a lot more complex with a lot more work expected / required than my third year History subjects.
And yet, this was a course that needed that workload and complexity. I don’t believe it could be done, and done effectively, it any other way.
I have learned a great deal this term.
I have learned that:
- Not all writing has to be verbose, even though this is often drummed into us as university students (Whitaker, Ramsey & Smith 2012, p. 82).
- The single most important thing I can remember when writing as a journalist is KISS (Keep It Short and Simple).
- I enjoy having a blog. If you had asked me three months ago what I thought about blogs, I would have told you I thought they were a bit pretentious and self-important. I now see that they are a useful reflection tool and an excellent way to get helpful and constructive peer feedback.
- Using social media is not as easy as I thought it was. Even though I already knew how to use Twitter and Facebook, I found it difficult to master other sites such as Storify. I now know how other people must feel when they use Facebook for the first time.
- Social media is an important tool for journalists in today’s 24/7/365 society (Whitaker, Ramsey & Smith 2012, p. 282).
I could go on, but I would be here all day.
What I found most beneficial about this course was the peer interaction.
Being able to see other people’s view on things and take on weekly tasks is invaluable.
Some weeks, I found myself really stuck as to how to tackle something. Reading through other people’s work helped to kick start my thinking process and help me understand the task better.
Also, some of the feedback I got on my blog posts was extremely helpful, and I truly believe it has helped me improve my writing skills.
The most challenging part of this course, for me, was rewiring my writing brain.
As I said before, I have spent much of last three years writing quite complexly.
During the first few weeks, I found it really hard to pull myself up and say, you’re over saying this. Cut it down. Make it simpler.
By about week five though, I found my groove.
Even though I have already done two other media courses, Introduction to Journalism and Introduction to Public Relations, this course changed a lot about the way I think of media writing.
When I started this term, I thought that journalism was primarily paper-based. So, I thought that was where the majority of a journalist’s skills had to be.
I now know that media writing involves a whole lot more, and is made up of four components:
I would like to thank you, Kate.
And thank you also to everyone who has helped by giving me feedback this term.
I have loved this course and I have hated it, but I am definitely a better student because of it.
Practical: Review your blog
A: Review your blog against the checklist
I have checked, rechecked and had my partner recheck each and every one of my posts at least five times.
I checked them first against the blog checklist to make sure I hadn’t missed any posts.
I then checked them using Kate’s three stages of proofreading, so if there’s anything I have missed, it’s not for lack of trying.
B: Respond to Assessment 1 feedback
The two biggest areas I needed to improve on, according to my Assessment 1 feedback, were:
- Keeping in mind that the blog was an assignment for university, and that my posts needed to be written with that in mind
- Adding more critical analysis to my posts where I related course work to theory.
To address this, I went back to the very beginning of my blog and read all my posts out loud to see which ones sounded too conversational.
I was a little frustrated because we had been told a number of times throughout the term that we had to write conversationally, which is what I had done.
However, I could see that a large portion of my earlier posts did sound too informal, like I was writing a personal blog and not an academic one.
So I have rewritten, at least in part, every single one of my posts.
I have also added critical analysis to each, by relating the exercises to what I learned from our readings that week.
I then reread my posts out loud and could hear a definite change in tone in them.
I hope this will markedly improve my grade for Assessment 3.
Technical: Reflection on quizzes this term
Just like the course itself, I have loved and I have hated our weekly quizzes.
If I am being honest, the reason I hated them is that they forced me to realise that I am not as great of a grammar Nazi as I thought I was.
And yet, this is also the reason I have loved them. They have taught me so much about the English language that I didn’t know, and I am immensely grateful.
The area I found the most challenging was week four, reporting speech. I achieved only 60% on my first attempt at the quiz.
I always thought that I had a good handle on incorporating speech into writing, but the rules for journalistic speech reporting are so much more complex and varied.
Upon reviewing my results for that week, I can see that I struggle with indirect speech the most, so I will pay careful attention to this in future.
The areas I found the easiest were common grammar mistakes, punctuation and style. I was not surprised by this as I have always had a good grasp of these things.
I was surprised at getting 100% on my first attempt at the figures quiz in week eight.
Maths is something I have always struggled with so I was really pleased that I did well, even if the chapter was a short one, which probably made it easier.
These quizzes have helped me grow as a writer. I am now a better writer technically than I was when I started this course.
I now know things I never did before, such as:
- Journalistic style
- The difference between that and which
- How to recognise a dangling modifier
- That it is okay to start a sentence with a conjunction (my seventh grade teacher would have a fit!)
- The many ways to report direct and indirect speech
- Some words have two possible meanings, so don’t always rely on the thesaurus in Word (Hicks 2013).
I could go on and on.
These quizzes have forced me to examine my writing habits and recognise that I had many that are considered outdated and too formal.
So thank you again, Kate. The quizzes have helped me more than I can put into words.
Ames, K 2016, Module 1: Introduction to media writing, course notes, COMM11007: Media Writing, CQUniversity e-courses,http://moodle.cqu.edu.au
Ames, K 2016, Module 11: Reviewing your work, course notes, COMM11007: Media Writing, CQUniversity e-courses,http://moodle.cqu.edu.au
Hicks, W 2013, English for journalists: twentieth anniversary edition, Routledge, Abingdon, Oxon.
Stout, D W 2013 (2013), Keep-calm-it-is-finished-wide, graphic, Dustin W. Stout Blog, viewed 9 October 2016, https://dustn.tv/good-friday-keep-calm-it-is-finished/
Whitaker, W R, Ramsey, J E & Smith, R D 2012, Media writing: print, broadcast, and public relations, 4th edn, Routledge, New York.