Johannes Jonker

I originally wrote this article for the MIH Media Lab blog. View the original here.

Background

For my Honours research project this year, I analysed ways of increasing user participation in blog-based social networks. My case study was Bonfiire, a multi-community network for discussion and debate, that I co-founded with a friend in 2012. Since the public launch of Bonfiire Stellenbosch (our first community, targeted at Stellenbosch University students and alumni) in January 2013, we’ve seen the platform evolve into a vibrant virtual space for the discussion of campus issues. In my research project, I focused specifically on modelling Bonfiire using a system dynamics approach. However, along the way, I’ve stumbled across a number of interesting phenomena that I am very curious to examine further.

One of the things I’ve been wanting to do, is to use text mining to gain insight into the focus and nature of discussion on Bonfiire, as well as the way in which users express themselves.

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For the past three (and a bit) years, I’ve had the massive privilege of receiving a university education. I’ve studied fascinating subjects, attended thought-provoking talks, met intriguing people, been exposed to compelling perspectives on matters hitherto unknown to me, and engaged with the sometimes wonderful, sometimes exasperating complexity of life and humanity.

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At the end of my first year of tertiary study — 2011 — I bought an iPad. Up to that point, I’d taken notes in class with a pen and paper, I’d printed (some) class handouts, I’d organized everything in large ring binders and I’d bought prescribed books from a local bookstore. All this, combined with the fact that I really (really) like minimalism, had left me looking for a simpler, more integrated learning solution — and preferably a paperless one. 

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This article is part of a series I wrote for the Centre for Teaching and Learning at Stellenbosch University, on the topic of how students can utilize ICTs for academic success.

It’s safe to say that every university student will write at least one written piece (essay, report, etc.) requiring referencing during his/her time as student. It’s also safe to say that mentioning the word “referencing” to most of these students will, at the very least, make their smiles drop or, in a worst-case scenario, lead to them running away, screaming and wildly swinging their arms in the air.

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While many students are already aware of this offer, a surprising number of people I spoke to had not yet heard about it.

It turns out there really is such a thing as a free lunch, apparently. This time round, it’s on Stellenbosch University and Microsoft. And it looks really delicious.

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Near the end of 2011, I bought myself an Apple iPad 2 (16GB, WiFi). Large files of class notes and stacks of textbooks had put me on a quest  to go ‘paperless’ on my studies; the iPad seemed like the perfect vehicle for this quest. Accordingly, the iPad has truly revolutionized my study experience. The key to this revolution lies in choosing the right apps – a somewhat difficult task if one considers that the iOS App Store now contains well over 200 000 apps. With this post, therefore, I’m going to highlight the apps that currently play a big role in enhancing my studies. I’ll keep the list updated as I find new and better apps. Also, I’ve included some tips that have helped me put the iPad to even better use in my studies.

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After an extended period of only blogging on Tumblr (and limiting my blog posts to creative musings and attempted poetry), I’ve extended my main website to include a WordPress-powered blog. I’ll be using this space to do some more serious writing and write-ups of travels/events. One of my first posts will be on how students can utilize Apple’s iPad to revolutionalize studying.

Watch this space.

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Die hemelruim se sterreprag
waak oor ‘n slapende landskap
van koppies, randjies en amperse berge
en die liggies van rustige lewenswyses
wat plek-plek in die donkerte flikker.

‘n Paddakoor sing klik-klik
in verbroke harmonie tussen die riete
van die dam-hier-digby
terwyl ‘n eensame uil melankolies sug
en die vreedsaamheid beaam.

In die sagte geruis van die briesie
fluister die verbeeldingstem:
Hierdie wêreld ken nie die konstante gedruis
van ambisie en materialisme en liefdeloosheid nie.
Hier is jou rykdom vrede
en jou lafenis rus.

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Reis.
Verken.
plekke bewonder
mense dophou
atmosfere inneem
bewondering.
sin.
liefde.

Nostalgie.
Herinnering.
ervarings her-leef
emosies her-voel
idees her-dink
inspirasie.
waardering.
liefde.

Verlange.
Melankolie.
om te mis wie jy nie ken nie
om liefde self lief te hê
om dankbaar te wees vir lewe
spiritualiteit.
lewenslus.
liefde.

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