Reflection on the subject RPIT: Reflective Practice in IT

Reflective Portfolio

6-13-2011


Table of Contents

 

1. Introduction. 1

2. Reflection of Study. 1

2.1. Learning Contract 1

2.2. Progress of Self Learning. 2

2.3. Deliverable. 3

2.4. The group presentation. 4

2.5. IT professional attribute. 5

3. Conclusion. 5

 


1. Introduction

 

When I started this subject, Reflective Practice in Information Technology (RPIT), I had thought that this might be the similar subject with Information Technology Professional and Society (ITPS). It did in many aspects such as group presentation, its topics and this reflective writing. However, one thing that is clearly different from ITPS is self-driven learning scheme based on learning contract. Through this, I expected to learn what I really wanted to improve so that this is not going to be a rhetorical time spending just to collect marks for the certificate of master’s degree.

2. Reflection of Study

2.1. Learning Contract

Most of all, setting the goal of my learning by myself is meaningful action, because we can learn what we really interested in and what we think is valuable for our future career. This is quite similar with making contracts with clients in business in a sense that we can learn finding proper topic considering its value as learning and its workload. The learning topic should be concrete and valuable as learning, but also its volume should be reasonable to be finished in one semester. Otherwise, it might end up with scratching the surface. Considering the fact that I am interested in web technology that is closely related to my future career, the chosen topic, WordPress as a content management system (CMS), is thought to be a good one. However, it should have been more specific and reasonably complex to receive better mark. If I had known about WordPress before I started learning it, I could have chosen more specific topic. It is understandable that choosing a specific learning goal for a given time period is better than abstract one. This might be one of the lesson I have learnt.

2.2. Progress of Self Learning

It might be good to mix my learning with a real project rather than only reading books. Thus, I planned to apply WordPress into my old personal blog. Previously, I had two blogs. One is written in Korean and used old CMS engine called PHPnuke. The other is written in English and used the web service called ‘WordPress.com’.

The first thing I have done is the installing WordPress in Mac OS X for testing purpose and the downloading all the data from web hosting DB to Mac. Following several tests and researches, I could find the way to migrate the 2-byte character database from old database to new one. This was good experience, because it was practical issue when we deal with database contents containing 2-byte character.

Whiling doing this project, I have to use database, MySQL, a lot and used other tools such FTP, Telnet and UNIX command. These are all must have skills to be a web developer. In this sense, I thought this is practical and helpful process for my career.

After installing default WordPress, I experimented themes and found that given theme is not satisfactory to me. Obviously, this might be the common case in real business situation, in which clients might require certain amount of changes in design, layout or font. Therefore, I analysed the structure of HTML and CSS of WordPress to understand how its theme work with other files. This experiment finished with some changes in fonts and spacing using manual change of source code of the theme, learning that many small businesses are flourishing around WordPress theme. Many web design agencies are developing WordPress themes and selling them as a business. However, this is a more web designer’s job rather than developers. Thus, I did not experiment it further.

Last part of the learning was implementing several plug-ins. In all, I applied more than ten plug-ins. But, some the them were not good enough in terms of its performance and some of them did not work properly under the web hosting server and database due to the low version of them. The web hosting company I used with did not have a plan to upgrade their server in near future. However, a few very popular and important plug-ins were successfully installed and worked properly. Undergoing these processes, one specific topic, which is search engine optimisation and it is closely related to web site analysis and its optimisation, drew my attention.

After completed making web site, next step may be advertising and tuning so that the website get more traffic and shows better performance.  In this sense, if there were more time, it might be interesting and valuable to research more on the newly arising topics, which are web site analysis and search engine optimisation (SEO). This can be my next subject topic.

Another important topic is integration with social media such as Facebook and Twitter. This is quite demanding skill for the moment. Thus, plug-in, which support integration with social media, are already in market and I installed it for my project and configured it to fit for my purpose. However, if I could develop social media tools that work with WordPress, it might have been practical. This is obviously the second option for my next project.

Finally, I used two WordPress to manage two web sites in one server. This is what is called running multiple websites with WordPress.  In this case, I used one web server, one DB server and one database with two independent WordPress using separate prefix of database table names. In other word, this is my solution for the issue of running multiple websites on WordPress. This solution was straightforward in concept and implementation. Nevertheless, more website means more maintenance burden.  It might be better if I had found convenient way of running website with multiple languages.

2.3. Deliverable

All in all, as a practical project what I implemented is satisfactory to me at least because it is real project which is up and running in live on the web. Thus, through it, I faced several issues and I found the solutions for them and leant from them. This gave me more learning than reading only books without creating anything.

However, the writing paper as a deliverable was somewhat confusing, because writing about highly practical and hands-on topic following academic way of writing did not match each other. If the deliverable was only one choice between literature writing and practical development itself, the concept of deliverable might have been clear. Due to this confusion, I had a hard time to do a real project and academic style writing together.

Despite of this confusion, the fact that I could spend my time learning something more practical felt me satisfied.

2.4. The group presentation

The group presentation is always the issue of team play and preparation. I have heard from my previous presentation lecturer when I was working in company that we need 29 times of practices before presentation. The meaning might be that practice is really matter when presenting.  As Steve Jobs is great presenter not because of his natural born speech ability, but because of his thorough practice and preparation.

Reflecting this presentation, there is more regret than satisfaction more than before. Firstly, we were late to start research of our presentation topic. Therefore, we had not enough time to arrange our ideas and make it flow smooth. I think that I should have taken initiative and cheer friends up to start preparing early. Therefore, this can be defined to me as the failure of time management and lack of pro-activity.

The topic of us, innovation, was highly transferable attribute to any business sector. Furthermore, innovation is only meaningful when it creates value, which is profit in case of business. I wanted to emphasise this nature of innovation. This is quite different factor from what we generally know about innovation, as it is normally thought of as coming up with fancy idea or making cool products. Unfortunately, I feel that I could not deliver this idea enough based on feedback from the professor. Considering that English is the second language to me, I should have prepared more than the native speaker should, even though native speakers do not automatically mean good presenters.

2.5. IT professional attribute

Throughout this subject, we thought about lots of IT professional attributes such as innovation, communication, critical thinking and leadership. The fact that many students failed to present these attributes in a proper context in their presentation is regretful. In spite of this fact, it was good time to think about these attributes, which might be needed when we start working in IT industry. Most of these attributes are transferable skills. That means we should learn and practice these as an on-going process. How can we learn skills such as teamwork or problem solving in one semester? These attributes might be learnt by real work and continuous follow-up education including reading and deep thinking.

3. Conclusion

For the first time in master’s course at UTS, we decided the topic we learn by ourselves during a semester. Deciding my topical direction by me was difficult, because we are used to accepting what is decided by lecturer about the topic. In this time, I chose my topic based on my future career path as web specialist and the gap analysis between current knowledge and the skills needed to be a specialist. More than others, the fact that I could choose what I thought that is needed was especially good. Therefore, I will take this initiative in future on whatever it is.