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Swinburne Online, Reflective Essay Writing

In: Business and Management

Submitted By lokofilo
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My chosen topic for this assessment is the Westboro Baptist Church. My objective is to learn about the church and get an insight of a former member. My chosen online resources included Reddit and Youtube, as my two social media platform; Wikipedia and the group’s website as the two informational site I used to research on this topic.
The Wikipedia page on Westboro Baptist Church (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Westboro_Baptist_Church) gave me a good basis for my topic. I chose this informational site as it contained current information, historical background about the group, with links referencing current news articles and media coverages on the church. It also assisted me in identifying the group’s official informational site, www.godhatefags.com. The Wikipedia page gave me solid factual and unbiased understanding of Westboro Baptist Church, whilst the group’s website is a biased source of information, and a first-hand account from the church itself, which I found the most interesting. Their message on their website was conveyed via online articles, videos, open letters; this allowed me to get a deeper understanding of the church by reviewing the various media platforms on this website. Both informational website allowed me to assimilate the knowledge I learned from Wikipedia, combining with the new information I extracted on the groups website it gave me confidence to form my own personal view and raised my level of curiosity. Through my chosen online social media platforms, I was able to satisfy this curiosity. I chose a Reddit thread that was started by Lauren Drain (http://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/18biq8/i_am_lauren_drain_former_westboro_baptist_church/), who is a former member of Westboro and the author of a published book called Banished. In this thread, she links her social media pages, and answered questions from active participants, whilst I wanted to be an active participator in the thread I noticed that the last post was over a year ago and questions I would have asked were already answered. The thread gave me a brief insight of how she became a member of Westoboro and her reasons for leaving. To elaborate further, I then turned to a Youtube video (http://youtu.be/6Yte-hnfyt0) contained in Lauren’s Youtube page where she posted a video of an interview she had participated in last year. In this video she validates most of the information I learnt from Wikipedia, Westboro and Reddit.
As for Metzger, I evaluated the credibility of the Wikipedia page via its currency (last updated on the 17th of November 2014), the comprehensive information contained on the website and the lists of other online resources it draws its information on. Whilst the page does not confirm the author and his/her level of credential, I relied on the Fritch and Cromwell (2001, 2002) model as a second evaluation method, whereby Wikipedia is reputed to be a good source of information by way of affiliation and global judgment of internet information. The Westboro group website fits the Metzgers Framework perfectly, the information contained in the website is comprehensive, current with the latest press releases, the website is promoted by the group itself, whilst information is biased it is without commercial intent. The groups website also has contact details, activity information, video links and is written for the purpose that is to convey the groups objective and beliefs.
I found the two social media platforms harder to evaluate than the two informational sites. My Youtube source was challenging, the interview is with Lauren Drain herself, a subject matter expert to the activities and beliefs of the church, who lived within the community. I couldn’t not validate her level of authority by just relying the interview, especially as her views are not endorsed by the church itself. The interview is also outdated (posted 1 year ago) as such I have had to adopt the Meola (2004) evaluation, whereby I searched for an editorially reviewed documentary by Louis Theroux, called the Westboro Baptist Church to validate her level of engagement within the community. In this documentary it confirms Laura actively engaging with the church community. The Reddit thread was easier to establish credibility similarly to Wikipedia, I have had to rely on the Fritch and Cromwell (2001, 2002) model; Reddit is known to verify the claims of it’s author who promotes themselves to be a level of authority to provide first-hand information. It identifies a verified author by including a suffix, AMA on the verified author’s username.
In conclusion, the world wide web is full of information about any topics of choice. It is fast, easy and accessible to all people within any socio economic background and it caters for all learning styles. I found my choice of informational sites, the order in which I extracted information and learnt from it, to be directly linked to my constructivism. Assimilating new information from Wikipedia, accommodating new information when I browsed through the groups online website, wanting to be an active participant by engaging through dialogue on Laura’s Reddit thread and/or post comments on Laura’s Youtube video. But as Metzger Framework clearly states, the problem lies in the credibility of the source of information, and its reliability. When choosing my information sites, I found more information sites inaccurate than accurate when tested against Metzgers Framework, therefore applying a metacognitive strategy when evaluating the chosen platform against a proven methodology proves that we can rely on the information on internet as a new academic resource to base our research or case upon. Using the different learning theories, knowledge of the Metzgers Framework…...

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