My Eportfolio Essay

My initial learning goals were to incorporate what I have learned into my life, educate others on popular culture, develop confidence in what I am saying, and also not to be afraid of speaking up. Throughout the course, I have accomplished just that. These goals would not be possible to reach if it weren’t for a strong mindset, which is my primary strength that I saw in myself.

When it comes to online courses, many people slack off, however I did not. My mindset was simple. As long as I knew the direction in which I wanted to go, I had the motivation and determination to succeed in this course. The other strengths that I saw in myself throughout the term, is being eager to learn and being an effective communicator, which is proven by my blog comments. In response to another student, I stated:

“I agree with you on both prompts. After reading the essay, it came as a complete shock to me that the distinction between “us” and “them” even exists. Not only that, but how much of an impact the media really has on society in defining others. I never realized that it is a bit difficult to have an open mind when this binary tunnel vision of other cultures is engraved into our brains from the beginning. After the 9/11 attack, I saw all Muslims as “the enemy”, in which the media had a powerful influence on my assumption. When I flew on an airplane and saw a guy with a head wrap, I feared for my life because I thought that he was going to hijack the plane. However, I do not see all Muslims as “the enemy” anymore. That being said, intercultural education should be combined with media literacy. The consumption of media allows us to access information that we aren’t able to get on our own. However, the negative part is that the media decides what to share and what to hide from their audience. Whether we know it or not, the media plays a major role in how we view our society.

Secondly, I agree that Asians are a group of people that I’ve seen represented in a similar or one-dimensional way over and over in popular culture media. The most common stereotype with Asians have to deal with the parents. If you are Asian or someone you know is Asian, people assume that your parents are strict. People assume that Asian parents are never proud of their children. For instance, an Asian person could earn his Bachelor’s degree and his/her parent’s will not be satisfied because they could have gotten their PhD. It is portrayed that Asian parents have such high expectations for their children, when in reality this is not true. Personally speaking, I am Asian and my parents do not even know the name of the college that I am attending, nor do they care what kind of grades I am earning.”

I chose this blog comment because not only does it prove my eagerness to learn but it also proves how respectful I am to others, which is very important in communication. When it comes to reading other’s work, I am respectful with my words. I do not reply back to them with just a sentence. I fully give them my thoughts, questions, and ideas regarding their work, which in turn, will help us both. I state why I agree and disagree. In my opinion, communication is important in all aspects of life.

Moreover, although I did not see any challenges throughout the term, being a student, there was an area that I needed room for improvement on. Before this course, as a student, I felt that I was not an active participant in my education. Not only would I be silent when I strongly disagreed with something in a class debate, but I was also silent in previous mentor sessions. However, due to this course, I am a changed person, as I am now an active and engaging student in my education. To substantiate this, take my blog post about the influence of advertising.

“Prompt: How aware are you of the difference between content and ads when you are using the Internet?

In my eyes, content and ads are like words versus pictures, however, I came to realize that I am not aware of the impact that difference can have on an individual. The internet is a globalized machine that not only allows people from everywhere around the world to connect but it is also so common that you don’t really think anything of it. AT first, I thought there was a distinct difference between content and ads. Content was the information expressed through a medium. This could be the words you read in a book or even the words that a person said. On the other hand, ads were the pictures that you saw on a billboard or in a magazine. Ads were the unwanted; they were the pop ups that you had to block or the 15 second video you chose to skip. However, as time progressed, they began to overlap. While viewing content on the internet, more often than not, there are ads on the side. Take Facebook for example. Facebook is a social media site that allows you to connect with your friends, you can see the photos that they post, you can see where they are at, you can see how they are feeling or what is on their mind. However, on the right side column of the Facebook site, there are ads with a headline, photo, and caption. In other words, I am using a medium to consume information about my friends, yet, this medium is trying to persuade me to take a further look into their brand or product. In addition, Facebook hires people to track your interests, and from that, they show only ads that are specifically for you. For example, these research analysts would see that dogs interests me because I would watch dog videos on Facebook, and after that, I would see dog ads on the right side of my Facebook. Moreover, facebook is not the only site that allows ads to influence their content, there is also news websites, dating websites, social media websites. In my opinion, this makes me question what the real message is. What these networks are allowing says a lot about their values. I, like many people, don’t want to read an article and have these incessant ads disrupting the content. Let’s be honest, you would much rather choose a picture with a few words than a paper with only words. Although pictures are more appealing to the eyes than words, at the end of the day, words mean so much more.

Prompt: Do you think advertisements contribute anything of value to our culture? What ads? In what ways?

I think advertisements are more harmful than it is helpful to our culture. Yes we are a capitalistic society which means that producing and distributing good and services is crucial but it seems individuals are uninformed of the power that they hold. We, as consumers, have the power. Advertisements are putting ideas and images in your head, however, you can either accept it or reject it. We, as consumers, may not know it, but every time that we purchase a good or service from a certain company, we are making a statement. We should be asking questions like, what statement does their merchandise make and how does it reflect upon me? Who am I supporting with my purchase? What cause does the company support? Urban outfitters is a perfect example of consumer purchasing power. Urban Outfitters has had a bad rep, from horrible working qualities, to offensive products. Because of that, I choose to not buy their products. My silence is the power. Imagine if people stopped shopping at Urban Outfitters, this would make Urban Outfitters think twice about their values. Not only would they improve working qualities for their factory workers, but they would discontinue offensive products. In fact, they discontinued shirts that had words like “Eat Less” and “Depression” not because people stopped buying it, but because there were many critics. Furthermore, I feel that majority of advertisements depends on external factors for validation. In other words, there is such a materialistic connotation with advertisements. Ads create this ideology of what is normal. Enhancing our looks is a constant message shown through ads. In short, it is all about what we look like, and the ads shown below substantiate this claim.


You’ve got Katy Perry basically saying that you can eat potato chips without putting on weight.


You’ve got an Estee Lauder model with eyeliner, eyeshadow, foundation, blush, lipstick, and nail polish.


In addition, the “Beyond Natural” Jessica Alba is anything but natural due to makeup caked on her.


To put the icing on the cake, you’ve got Victoria Secret models in lingerie stating in bold letters that skinny is the “perfect body”.

Overall, when I think of ads, I don’t think of promoting environmental sustainability or charity foundations; values that hold true importance. Moreover, there is a strong correlation of physical appearance and advertisements, which should not be the case. All in all, if we not only took the time to analyze an ad, but more importantly, take the time to question our purchases, that is the value advertising can contribute to.”

Although it might have been much to read, this blog post goes to show how much I have improved as a Student. Not only do I put time into my education, but the effort that I have put into this course is evident from my blog posts.

Overall, the knowledge and skills that I have obtained during this course is something that I will apply from here on out, as it has, and will continue, to benefit me. The most important takeaway for me is how to critically analyze the news. Take for example, my analysis of a news article.

“The article, “Afghanistan Kidnappings: Two Foreigners Missing From Aid Team” include many sources. First, Mustafa Andalib, the reporter. Next, Rob Taylor, the writer. Lastly, Michael Perry, the editor. In my eyes, these sources played a major part in the article, setting the tone for the paper. For starters, the sources are bashing high officials. To elaborate, the article includes this, “Rumours of the abduction of a man and a woman by either insurgents or criminal gangs have circulated for several days, but U.S. and Canadian diplomats said they were unaware of anyone reported missing”. This is crucial because they are basically pointing fingers saying that U.S. and Canadian Diplomats are not doing anything about this issue. To further emphasize this negative perspective, the article includes this “Canada’s Department of Foreign Affairs said it was looking into the reports, but gave no confirmation of a missing citizen”. Also including one that hits home, “A U.S. embassy spokesman in Kabul late on Friday said there was no information on a missing American, but diplomatic officials are often reluctant to talk about kidnappings in hope it could smooth the way for negotiations on a release”. These only go to show the hostility towards those high officials who were in charge of the investigation, continuing to point fingers at them.

Furthermore, not only do they bash high officials but as you read you can visibly see the bias of this coverage, substantiating that there is no such thing as objective reporting due to loaded language. In the article, they use terms such as insurgents, criminal gangs, gunmen, abduction, and volatile. These terms speak for itself, they all have negative connotations to them. For instance, insurgent is saying that they are insubordinate or disobedient, when they could have used a term that has a less negative connotation such as “rebel”. All in all, diction matters, and by the choice of words they used, this proves that reporters bring their own biases and views into the story.

Moreover, I think the article in general lacked a lot of information that caused confusion for readers. However, based on tone and diction, poor participation of high officials was their justification for lack of information. Also, lack of information made me question if this was a personal matter, rather than professional. The article bashed high officials more than they talked about the information of the two missing foreigners. For starters, what was the name of these two missing foreigners? How old were they? What was the primary purpose of the trip? All in all, reporters could have included reporter chooses what to include, what not to include, and who they get their information from. Because of this, it makes me question what the true message they want readers to take away.”

The news definitely impacts an individual’s perspectives and actions, and learning how to critically analyze the news, benefits me greatly. I ask questions such as, who are the sources and what are their perspectives? Are significant questions left unasked or unanswered? Do quotes seem abridged or out of context? Are exaggerated or rhetorical claims reported uncritically without journalistic scrutiny? By asking these analysis questions, I am at a greater advantage because I will not fall victim to being misled by the news. 


E Portfolio

My initial learning goals for this term was to be able to communicate better with my classmates and my instructor through online interactions. I have always seen a fine line between being formal and non-formal when it came to communication with my peers online. I found my strengths as being able to communicate with my group mates in our workshops. I felt that it was much more informal and I was able to communicate easier with them. Some of the struggles I came to was replying to other students post. I found myself, some nights, trying to see what I wanted to reply to their post with. I felt that I had nothing to say or that my response was not long enough to be notable. This was an ongoing issue but did become less problematic as the term went on. I feel that I was stuck on a certain way to respond to someone and that really hindered me in being able to piece together a meaningful response. I have plenty of ideas but the formalities and different rules in my mind really made it hard to convey. By the end of the term, I was very comfortable with typing out my thoughts and responding to other students just became easier.

In one of my Workshop post, I wrote that “I feel that I am pretty good at public speaking and working in a group. One thing I know I need help with is writing in general. Especially with larger papers and what not. I foresee this class requiring quite abit of writing so I can already see myself becoming a better writer by the end of the term. Communication through typing has always been an issue and becoming more familiar with it through this class will benefit me when talking to an instructor or doing an online assignment or working with my partners to complete an assignment. “This term given me the chance to really practice my writing abilities. Each week required me to write and I was able to be exposed to different examples of writing done by my peers. These combined gave me what I needed to improve my writing skills. Being able to see what others wrote gave me new ways to go at how I wrote my own responses and assignments. Writing weekly has been something that I am not use to and did prove difficult in the beginning. Writing more often gave me the chance to practice my writing skills more than a few times a term leading to getting more help quicker. I feel that practice does make perfect, so all this writing has aided my ability to get better and improve how I wrote.

I gained a new understanding for what it means to be an advocate. I noticed that I tended to reply on post that I felt I agreed most with. I usually tried to back up their response and really give them support. During week 3 I replied to S Morris-Doty’s post with “I remember the ad you are taking about and I do find it odd with the multiracial dilemma. I like how you brought this up because companies are trying to appeal to more people and a multiracial family is a normal thing. It’s just weird how it’s so unaccepting it is even today. Would people who have problems with multiracial families have problems with families different from theirs? Or is it just the mixing that’s the problem? That is a weird topic and the ads are a good thing to bring up.”  The post was about a multiracial family eating cheerios. I backed up what he had to say and gave him positive feedback about his post.  Most post aren’t like this though. I wish I kept some of my previous entries but there were many nights where I would really struggle to find a way to advocate for someone. I would type a sentence and then erase it. I found some topics to really be bland and I wouldn’t care much at all but pushed myself to find a way to agree with them and applaud what they wrote. I know it wasn’t required to agree with what others but I sometimes just would not know what to write to them.

Some new skills I feel that I obtained from the course would be a better listener and reader. I was also able to convey my ideas better while in this course rather then most classes where I go in person. In the workshop, I was able to convey ideas that I have very deep feelings about to my class mates for discussions. For example, “This is where I will be focusing

– Asian American


  1. How are Asian American soldiers seen as in the general population?
  2. What are people’s opinions on what American Service men and women do?
  3. What are peoples first expectations/ thought when meeting an Asian person?
  4. Are soldier’s good people?
  5. is there a struggle identifying yourself as a soldier in today’s world?”

With the work I did in this class, I was able to better portray myself to my classmates and to really do research that meant more to me then what would be given by the instructor. The Peer review on our essays also gave me the chance to see how others viewed my ideas more in-depth. They gave me feedback and gave me new ideas that I would have never thought of. I was able to showcase my thoughts and then critique them base on what others said about them. This would be very useful in future ventures to be able to make an idea of mine better for everyone and myself.

This class has been a very different course then I am used to. It gave me the chance to be able to look into what I really enjoyed and be able to convey my ideas to my peers and also see what others like me really think.

Eportfolio – Adrian Smith

I have always been hesitant toward the popular culture of my own generation, and generally more welcoming of underground influences, but this class really made me stretch my imagination to figure out why popular culture of many different groups of people are so important to understand. Starting out in the class was really rough for me, because it was my first attempt at juggling 13 credit hours along with full time work. Because of this, a huge part of my learning goal was to adapt to the pressure of the workload while still being successful. I feel that the group work was sometimes difficult to stay on top of amidst the other work assignments, but could have been the most motivating had I utilized it properly. Even in lecture based classes I tend to be shy, and less likely to put myself out there. Because all of the prompts asked us to be up front and personal, it took me until Week 3 to jump into the open.

The prompt I first chose asked us to pick key words describing ourselves and come up with potential questions for our mirror blog posts, so I came up with “Queer, White, Male, Athlete, Portlander”. Well, that wasn’t so bad. Immediately I imagined what other people might think about those identities and why. It made it much easier to come up with my questions thinking about it objectively. As soon as I wrote down the questions, all of the ideas came together and a thesis formed. I typed it out immediately so that I wouldn’t forget,

The heterosexual gaze of queer media through mediums such as movies and television continue to perpetuate a stereotypical representation of the LGBTQ community in order to generate profit.”

It was fantastic how it surfaced immediately, almost like when we talk to our friends about something in the back of our mind and it appears as a full blown thought. So this process really benefited in the formation of the entire essay. Just by dedicating to the thesis, it gave me the gusto to move forward in the class. I started making more comments in the blog and within the group. Because I had realized that I was part of a team which did not judge me based off of individual circumstances, I felt empowered to explain thoughts that I may not have had in a lecture based class. One of these examples is my brainstorming on ideas after reading one of my secondary sources, which ended up relating to many different ideas within my essay,

“ When Jenkins uses Hill Colins idea of intersectionality to relate to Ru-Paul’s drag race, it directly correlated to the other sources by discussing power structure of groups. He stated, “Intersectional paradigms remind us that oppression cannot be reduced to one fundamental type, and that oppressions work together in producing injustice. Within a patriarchal society, domination uses differences that are ascribed social meaning to reinforce the power structure of one group over another.” These ideas and specific terminology helped to pull in a more complex and deeper meaning to the full picture for the research analysis. ”

Through this empowerment I came to understand that people care much more about whether you’re there to support them as a team member than they care about passing judgement on your individuality or struggle in the class. This realization has helped me both in work and in the rest of my classes, pushing me to focus on getting the work done as opposed to the possible judgement of those around me. With this momentum, I became a better researcher because I cared about the class more and had the internal motivation to be part of the prompts. An example from the blog posts was from the essay building tools. While I researched all of the tools, I describe the most useful as,

“Sentence Variation, which reasoned how to vary structure and avoid repetition in paragraphs. This lended to the ideas of paragraph development (Unity, Coherence, A Topic Sentence, and Adequate Development) but also provided direct examples of how to keep paragraphs interesting. Only two strategies were discussed; alternating short versus long sentences and varying sentence openings. Both of these strategies address common issues that most writers have to overcome to perfect our overall writing style.”

The Mirror Blog Essay also forced me to become a better researcher by creating a more realized picture of the popularized images that I had grown up with. For example, I had not known that Brokeback Mountain was a short story before it was a movie, and after reading the short story adaptation had an understanding of the contrast to the popular culture version. The movie cover for Brokeback Mountain only showcased the popularized actors. I explained this in short from the blog post,

“While the original short story by Annie Proulx is not represented in popular media, the positive messages on empowerment she meant to present to society were lost in it’s film adaptation which visualized homosexuality as a lifestyle filled with sorrow and shame.”


Overall the class has created a better understanding of my role as a student, pushed me to my social boundaries by making my thoughts public, forced me to put hours of research in order to come up with quality results, and taught me a different way of writing which is going to be increasingly more important in my career as a student. Although I am struggling with the challenges of this course, I know that I’ll continue to take popular culture while at Portland State University because it has been very beneficial in my educational experience.

ePortfolio – Maricruz Gomez


I had many different goals for this course that really applied to my schooling on a general level. I’ve personally always had an issue with seeking out help when I really need it and so one of the big goals I had for this course was to not hesitate to ask questions when I’m stuck or just need clarification and really used my classmates, mentor and professor as a valuable resource. On the other end of this, I also wanted to make sure that I was always clear when communicating something to others and also to be available for questions others might have for me. I really challenged myself to be mindful of my audience and consider who I was addressing and determined how to best communicate something based off of that.

A Role I Improved On

I feel as if there are lot of areas in which I made gains in being a citizen. One of the first things that comes to minds is how to look at things like the media in general and how it is particularly tailored to me or other individuals and usually, whoever is putting forward the type of intentions of the people who put out these media.

A comment I made on a student post in the course blog:

“Although a lot of times I do feel that news articles are working to promote some kind of related agenda, even if only loosely related, I think first and foremost, the news we see on TV for example, are what producers think will be the most compelling which often times means shocking.”

I chose this excerpt because I always used to see the news as merely factual or informative. This class has opened my eyes to things such as the fact that at the end of the day, that most news avenues are trying to win out the others but also to keep their subscribers/viewers/readers which means putting out stories that are exciting or stimulating in someway which is why a lot of stories never make it in major news.

My main comment on the Week 9 blog post also conveys an analysis of why certain stories make the cut:

“I think this article was chosen because it’s an increasing risk for many people and I think there is a slight hope that a greater awareness of the problem will lead to future action. It is newsworthy because it covers a recent, recurring event and something that is still very much a risk for people today.”

I feel like an awareness that everyone in the media has some kind of an agenda was a huge gain for me. It’s something I am commonly either oblivious to or turn a blind eye to which I believe is exactly what allows people in popular culture pass certain messages and oftentimes their biases, under the table. I think this is incredibly important for any citizen to know because it often influences how things are portrayed and can sometimes be intentionally misleading, which means it’s essential that people know how to protect themselves from being misinformed.

• What I’m Taking Away From this Course

I’m incredibly thankful for this course because I do feel like I grew a lot by doing so. Going back to my goals, one of the biggest issues I have had in both my schoolwork and life in general is always hesitating to ask for help when I need it. This is something I really worked on in this course.

In our workshop group, we posted a rough draft of our Mirror Blog in order to get feedback as part of my post I mentioned this:

“I’m sort of unclear as to how much of ourselves we are supposed to insert into the piece as I’m not sure how much we should stick to strict analysis.”

This may not seem like a very big deal, but I’ve never been the type to admit I am struggling with something and so this was a big step for me! It also let my workshop members know how they could most effectively help me in the revision process and they really came through! It made me realize that my peers are usually willing to help and can be a valuable resource if I allow them to be. This is something that I will definitely be able to apply in future coursework and life in general because I am certain I will run into many situations in which allowing someone to help me would be incredibly beneficial.

Another useful skill I gained in this course which I’ve already touched on is being able to analyze different type of popular culture artifacts. I’ve learned that it is incredibly important to not only keep in mind the big picture but also pay special attention to small details.

This is an excerpt from my analysis of an artifact as part of my Research Analysis Worksheet:

“I would like to touch on was the brief moment where the “employer” character mentioned that the “Mexican worker” character should use the garbage bags that were loaned to him…suggested that one, the Mexican worker couldn’t afford his own bags, but also that having his very own bags is something that he clearly wasn’t worthy of since it wouldn’t have cost very much for the employer to just give them to him.”

I found this to be a relevant example because this was a very minor detail in the clip I used for my Mirror Blog post and yet it was very intentional on behalf of the writers of the show and actually carried a pretty heavy meaning that develops the commentary the writers are making on the subject matter. Again, this is important because people should know about the hidden messages in the popular media they consume.

Overall, taking this course has been incredibly beneficial to me and I’m glad I took it before delving even deeper in my field of study as I feel like it will make the process go a lot more smoothly.


My initial learning goals for this course was to learn how to communicate with classmates via online and to improve my writing and reading skills. Also, another reason was to learn online techniques both for this class and for future courses so that I could fluently use those techniques to communicate with others. For the first three week was pretty difficult to me especially when I was facing online techniques issues, but hopefully I met the professor and our mentor so that I could finish my work. It was a challenge for me when I was making comments on others and analyzing the information from news or advertisements. I didn’t have many experiences on giving comments to other people especially online, but after this class I learned how to leave comments on others and including my opinion on it. For example, I left a comment on week 7: Identifying, Evaluating, and Analyzing Sources.

” Move2: After watching this advertisement I found that they used lots of dark colors instead of using bright primary colors. It makes me think that the purpose of this advertisement is not focus on call my attention to buy this pair of shoes instead is more about introducing the brand and what they are celebrate and how they enjoy this pair of shoes. Also, this advertisement showed lots of wonderful smiles and happiness and what I really like is how they portray freedom. No matter what kind of identities do the people have and no matter where the people are come from, they just have one purpose which is to enjoy the party and have a great time with this pair of shoes. Personally, I like the way they portray their brand and I hope to see more interesting stuff next time.

Move 3:
Pattern1: Freedom
Pattern2: Brands
Pattern3: Smiling faces

Personally, I see the most patterns is freedom. At the beginning of the advertisement two men riding skateboard along the empty street on night. Empty and night gives me a connection of freedom which is mean that no worries about what others people say or think about you just enjoy the time. After that, during the party many people was dancing, laughing, playing games, talking and painting freely on the wall. All these events happened on night and watching their movements and dancing with those pair of shoes it makes me think how do your shoes make you feel. By including all these elements it makes think about freedom.”

Another example was a comment from week 4: The Influence of Advertising.”Prompt 2: I think advertisements contribute gender equality to our culture. Man and Women are portrayed in advertisements and it can attract both women and man audience. Gender and culture always have a close relationship between each other, men is always dominate women so in many people’s view about women might be uneducated, weak, childish and so on. Now, the society is changing and the gender inequality between man and women is getting better. Through advertisements influence people’s views about women and I think this will change the culture. I really like the advertisement that is produced by PANTENE, and I think is target to the women audience. This advertisement is comparing between man and women Culture always present girls as they “can’t” because they are girls when the time past this will influence their self-confidence. Although, they have the ability to do the things that they believe and they can do because of the culture it might limited them to do it. The way that the advertisement present is by first asking “Why women always apologizing” then the advertisement show “Don’t be sorry and be strong and shine” finally women say “Sorry, not sorry.””

I learned how to make a post and analyze a post. It helps me improve my personal judgments and change my view on not include cognitive bias.On the other hand, I chose a role that I improved was a reviewer. I learned a lot from other classmates post and comments. For example: I got helpful comments on week 4 and 5 workshop from my group member in group discussion. From Penny Keough comment was ” I think using TV shows as your primary source will be most helpful. This is because when I think of immigration, I think of a better living, and I developed this perception primarily from TV shows. One TV show that is airing now is called “Fresh Off The Boat”. I feel that Americanized is highly associated with immigration. Also, I tend to stereotype immigrants, them being primarily Mexicans and Asians. However, there are other races but maybe you could research why certain races are associated with immigrants.” With the help of my group members I got many new ideas and I finished my Mirror Blog Post on time. In the past I didn’t think that a group is important and I didn’t think that my group members could give me many great ideas and good comments.

I really learned a lot from this class and classmates. Now, I have a new understanding about media and this class had improved my judgment skills and have a good understanding on how to leave comments on others. Also, now I know how important and effective is the group discussions. Having a group and communicating and making comments respectively on others can improve personal work. With these skills that I learned from the class I become more confident on my future courses both online and face to face. I will apply online techniques on others online classes and will have the confident of using those skills easily. Moreover, I will apply my analyze skills and judgment skills through media, life and other business courses. I will try to not having cognitive bias when I will make decision on something. All in all, I had a great time with this class and I gain many confidence by leaving comments on others and gaining online skills so that I can be more comfortable with online classes. Thank you class!



Svyatoslav Zhuchenya

Popular Culture

Sophomore Inquiry

June 1, 2015


Learning Goals

Going into the term I had very little knowledge of what popular culture really was, I had heard the word many times before but never really looked into what it really meant. As a result I didn’t really have a specific thing that I wanted to learn about pop culture just wanted to see what it was and how it can be useful. To me the class seemed like it could be very interesting because it dealt with essentially all the things that we consume on a daily basis as entertainment or education. As for taking an online course, my goal was to first of all save some time for my other courses but also to improve my communication skills with people that are not necessarily next to me. At first it was a challenge, I saw almost nobody in person but I had to have group conversations, post and reply to other peoples ideas. This proved to be challenging because, the replies to questions were not always instant. There was also a challenge in finding instructions for the course, I am used to a format where the instructor tells you in class what is due and when it is due. With this course it was very different, I had to search for instructions myself on the D2L page. I found that often I would miss something and would have very little time to complete something before the due date. Over the course of the term however, these challenges began to fade I learned how to better communicate with people virtually and I learned how to be more organized and find out information on my own.

Work Example:

One example of a group virtual communication was the mentor-writing group workshops, here students was separated into groups and had dissuasions on various things through the term. Whether it would be peer reviews on each other’s papers or discussions of class goals, each student had the opportunity to give their input and receive other people’s on their own work. This is an example of one of my discussions and some replies to it.

My Post

“I believe that I am good at communicating through writing; I have done fairly well on just about all of my college as well as high school papers and other writing assignments. Others often tell me that I state my points and ideas clearly in my writing, to the point where it is easy to understand. I believe that this also translates into oral communication, especially in a preplanned speech or presentation. This term I think there will definitely be plenty of opportunities to improve communication through writing, whether it is an essay, e-portfolio or the discussion and blog posts. These assignments are writing intensive and are based on communication through writing. I don’t see many options for improvement in communication through speech, graphics, numeracy, etc. This is expected however in an online course. I would like to improve on working in groups this term, although it is a bit hard to accomplish this in this online course, nevertheless it is a very important trait to have and I am starting to see that just about every job or internship values people who have good communication skills, especially in the field of group work.”

“Suggestions (Ground Rules):

1)   Good posts should contain clearly stated ideas; they should be easy to follow.

2)   Each member of the group must post and reply on time, to not hold back other members from completing the assignment.

3)   Feedback should be valid and constructive, not made up because it was a requirement.

4)   Posts should not be deemed incorrect because of contradictory beliefs.”


“Hi Svyatoslav,

I envy you when it comes to writing, because it is one of my weaknesses. This is one of the main reasons why I chose to take this course online. I feel like it could benefit me.

I agree with you that everyone should post and reply on time. It really is unfortunate if other people can’t complete their own assignments, if we don’t have posts to comment on. I think that is an extremely good ground rule. And I agree that posts should be seen as incorrect. Because a person’s post is a person’ idea, and it’s their thoughts.”

Role Improved

            I have definitely improved my role as a reviewer of people’s papers. In the past I tended to simply correct the grammar mistakes that people made and point out sentences that don’t make sense. This term however I realized that although important, most of the grammar mistakes could be corrected by simply rereading the paper a day or two after writing it or running it through a spelling and grammar checker. In the peer reviews do on the Looking into the Mirror paper I decide to focus more on content and if the paper flowed, versus simple grammar mistakes. I believe this is far more useful. Here is an example of a part of a peer review I did this term.

“…The paper has an intro, body and conclusion. The introduction could be a bit more organized, I would try my best to use that paragraph to summarize the information and arguments that you are going to present, and this way the reader knows what they should expect to hear. The body could also use some work on continuity, I find that some of your paragraphs seem incomplete, lacking a good intro or conclusion; some paragraphs should just be part of the previous ones. Try to introduce the subject of each paragraph sufficiently and at the end of each paragraph, maybe hint at what you will talk about in the next one, but only in the next paragraph provide a full intro to that subject….”

Application of Skills

I will be able to focus my improved skills in my professional life; I believe that as an engineer I will definitely have to communicate with other people virtually whether it would be through email or online forums or other online communication methods. Engineering in particular is a very group work heavy field so I will definitely be taking these skills that I have described further in life with me.


My initial learning goal for this Popular Culture class was to learn how to communicate more effectively with others through my writing. I used to be that person where I would respond to comments and discussion posts with general comments and not actually give any sort of useful feedback. During week two discussions I had posted, “For me I think that writing would be one of my greatest strengths. To me writing is more effective because I have always been a quiet person, so being able to write things down is a great way for me to get out all of my opinions and ideas. As a person who likes to write things down rather than communicate verbally, I still feel that I am striving everyday to better my writing skills. Throughout this term I have the opportunity to work on improving my writing with the mirror essay and discussion posts. I feel that by improving my writing skills, it will help me effectively communicate with my classmates in discussions.” Even though I really like to write things down, I still find that I sometimes struggle with my writing. One of my biggest issues was coming up with a thesis for my mirror blog post but with the workshop that we did, it really helped me to be able to formulate a thesis statement easily.

During the week two discussion post, I had also said, “As for communication ground rules, I feel that constructive criticism/helpful feedback, clear and consistent communication is key to group work. General comments that agree or disagree should have something to back up and explain why you agree or not. Posts should also be clear and engaging, allowing readers to ask questions and give useful feedback.” I feel like everyone else in my group were following our ground rules that we had set. Everyone was providing helpful feedback and asking questions either during discussion posts or during our peer reviews. I found this to be incredible helpful to hear feedback, especially when writing up my mirror post draft. Throughout the term, I found that consistent communication with my group was one of my strengths that I’m beginning to develop. I can see this strength as something I can carry throughout my education. Clear and consistent communication and feedback I feel helps everyone in the group achieve great work whether it be in essays or in real life.

As for Challenges, I think for me in the beginning of the term I found it really easy for myself to stay on top of the lecture comments, Posting thoughtful comments on time. But as we neared the end of the term I found myself kind of slipping. I’ve been taking on a lot of things in my personal life, and things got pretty overwhelming. I noticed that I would wait until the late evening to even look at the lectures and post my comments. I found that my posts weren’t all that engaging and that I was just posting just for the sake of having a comment on the lecture. I also found that I wasn’t responding to other’s blog posts as well and it’s a bad feeling when I know I should’ve responded to comments with thoughtful responses and I didn’t.

A role that I improved in is the reviewer role. I used to be someone who would give nice reviews on other student’s essays because I was afraid of hurting feelings or because I felt like I wasn’t all that knowledgeable to give a proper review on that subject. With the two peer reviews that I did this term for Vanessa and Aubree, I felt I was prepared to give a review because Daneen had posted a peer review example and it helped me to write a good review with questions and clarifications for both my group members. For example, I had written in my review for Vanessa, “ A couple of questions came to mind as I was reading through your draft. First, Why do you think Asians are portrayed in this way? And why do you think that viewers are so easily influenced by these portrayals? Do you think it is because we rarely see Asians being represented in the media? Or do you think it is something else? I think that if you answered some of these questions in your draft, it would help you make a stronger point. In your first paragraph you stated, “As a second generation immigrant I always find myself lost of who am I, and what is my self-representation.” Could you elaborate more on this and give a few examples? There are some points in your draft where I get a bit lost and confused. I noticed that you mentioned the TV show All American Girl but then you don’t write anything more about it until the end of your draft. I think that if you had clear paragraphs analyzing each show like you did with Fresh Off The Boat, it would clear up some inconsistencies for your readers.” After writing reviews for Vanessa and Aubree, I now know that my reviews are helpful and thoughtful, not the typical “I liked reading your paper” with no questions or any other constructive criticism.

I had written on Aubree’s final post, “Hi Aubree! I really liked that to chose to write about how ballerinas are depicted in the media. I see this is something that is really important to you! I myself have fallen for the ballerina stereotype, I had grown up thinking that they are pretty, prim, and proper and that this is how all ballerinas acted. I had watched Black Swan before and had noticed that the film is sort of dark storyline wise, but also visually. After reading your post, I feel that this resonates a lot with the other depictions of ballerinas in the media. I feel that consumers of the media don’t know a whole lot about the other aspects of ballerinas, because this is all that they’re shown as. I really appreciate the fact that your post shows that there IS a different side, and that not all dancers are like that. Have a good summer!” I realize now that my reviews can be really helpful to someone who is revising their essay drafts and I will continue to have my reviews in the future be thoughtful and have helpful critiques.

Something I obtained from this course is the skill to critically think and analyze something that has been presented to me through the media. Prior to taking this course, I had not really paid attention to what was being presented to me in the media through things like ads in magazines and television, and how these messages that are being presented shape our culture. I also had not thought of how ads nowadays are getting harder and harder to spot, most of them being concealed as content on your social media timeline. I posted, “At first glance of this question, my initial reaction was “Oh heck yeah I’m aware of the difference between content and the ads I’m seeing”. But upon further thinking, I have come to realize that ads are slowly becoming harder to spot because they can be concealed as any other content in your Facebook newsfeed, etc. For example, Instagram now does something sneaky and has ads that are integrated seamlessly into your feed, disguised as any other post making it harder to spot the ad unless you’re actually paying attention and not mindlessly scrolling through your Instagram. Sometimes I notice it and sometimes I don’t.” The week four lecture had helped me open my eyes on how to spot the difference between what is actually content and what are ads. I think the skill to be able to think critically and analyze a problem to situation that presents itself in the future is something that I will definitely apply to my future work as a physician when coming up with a diagnosis for my patients.