Reading Reflections


For each set of assigned reading, you will complete a short reading reflection (200-400 words). This should summarize and critique the main points of the text, as well as draw connections to other texts and ideas introduced through this course. This will assemble an ‘annotated bibliography’ by the end of the semester.

This is a guide to how you should approach the reflections for each reading. The most important thing is to remember they are high-level, consise and brief. They don’t need to cover all the points exhaustively, just the major ones. It should typically be around 250-400 words, and at most 500 words. There is are two examples of reading reflections posted below.

A list of assigned readings can be found in the readings section

Learning Objectives

As part of theses exercise, students will:

  • learn about the history and domain of physical computing and connected products;
  • build familiarity with foundational concepts relevant to the design of IoT products;
  • review and learn from key authors, scholars, and practioners who have contributed to the field;
  • through examination of these texts, reflect on the role of connected products in everyday settings; and
  • use these texts to assess and examine past, present and future trends for IoT devices.


A copy of each reading will be provided in PDF format. Each reading will be accompanied with a set of framing questions. Review the readings and write an approximately 350 words reflection.

Submitting your work:

You should submit your reading reflections to Canvas. These will be posted as a discussion and once you have submitted your work your peers will be able to view it.


Reading Reflections will be graded as pass/fail:

  • 0 - Unsatisfactory - Incomplete or failing work that does not show understanding/familiarity of the text or address the reflection questions posed.
  • 1 - Satisfactory or better - Meets or exceeds the minimum requirements for a reading reflection; shows familiarity with the text and addresses the reflection questions posed.

This will be applied to EACH reflection i.e. if two reflections are due, each will be graded separately.

To guarantee you pass the assignment, make sure you have:

  • Posted your reflection by the deadline *
  • Appropriately titled and referenced the reading at the start of your reflection *
  • Written at least 200 words for your reflection (not just copy-paste quotes!) *
  • Highlighted the major points/themes of the text
  • Responded to the prompts/framing questions provided
  • Thoughfully responded to the ideas in the text and/or made connections to other ideas in the module or course.
  • Written clearly, effectively and critically about the reading.

* Incidates that if you do not meet these criteria you will immediately fail the assignment.

More information can be found in the Grading, Feedback and Policies section

Preparing your Reading Reflection

Your written reflection should represent a close (critical) reading of the text. Collectively your readings during the semester will develop into an organized list of resources that you have reviewed on a particular topic a.k.a an annotated bibliography. In an annotated bibliography, Each reading is accompanied with a paragraph that explains or evaluates its key ideas in terms of quality and relevance. It is designed to help structure a review of literature so that you don’t need to re-read a text every time you want to refer back to it later. A very detailed explanation is available at: but below are some main points.

Each ‘annotation’ of the text should provide

  • A critical reflection which tells the reader what the text meant to you

  • It reflects a close reading, where you draw out specific quotes, passages or ideas from the text and discuss why you feel they are important concepts.

  • In drawing out the elements, establish connections to other readings or texts you have encountered. How do they relate to one another? Do they strengthen the argument of another reading or oppose it?

  • It is a reference point for referring back to ideas later and should be clear enough that you do not need to open the book again to remind yourself of the themes and connections.

  • It’s pretty short and concise. It should refer only to the main points and be no more than 200-400 (at most) words long.

Each ‘annotation’ should not be:

  • a complete summary of the text from end to end (It is focused on relevant and key ideas)

  • a descriptive summary i.e. it should include your reflections and assessment of the text.

  • opinion based (avoid: “I thought this was really nice”, “I really liked this idea”, “I found this confusing”)

  • treated as a test (it’s a place to describe how you read and understood the text and what it communicated to you)

Simply put:

It’s a littke more than a short summary; it highlights the main points and critically reviews the usefulness of the text and the ideas it contains.

Questions to Ask while Reading

  • Make connections: notice ideas, characters or comments that relate to or contrast with your own experiences, or knowledge of the area

  • Visualize: Create pictures in your mind that help you understand the text.

  • Ask questions…of the author, yourself and the text. “What do I think or know that relates to this topic?” “What am I learning that I did not know before?”

  • Determine importance: What big ideas or themes of the course are connected to the text? How does it look in contrast to the “real world” or the ideas presented in class?

Questions to ask after reading

  • What are the main ideas presented in the text? Try and narrow down to just 3-5 of the concepts that really reflect the key ideas, and then consider why you feel they are important?

  • What parts of the text stood out for you most? Why did you respond to them most?

  • How does the author present these ideas - are they well supported? Do they connect to other things you have read? Are these connections made or did you have to make them for yourself?

  • What did you learn from reading this text? If there are connections what is the relationship to the stuff you already knew? Did it advance these ideas or just restate them in a new way / new framing?

  • Now that you’ve read the text, what would you like to know more about? Why?

Writing an annotated bibliography

  • First, INTRODUCE: you begin by describing or presenting the idea. Discuss what was presented and why it is interesting or an interesting position

  • SUPPORT: Use details from the text (a quote, restating the idea, the evidence provided i.e. a footnote or a research article included) that establishes the main points i.e. how is the author supporting their point

  • REFLECT: Finally, state your position on the point, why is it important, how does it relate to the bigger ideas (i.e. visual literacy), is there a limitation in the authors thinking? etc.

DOs and DON’T

  • DO include page numbers, quotes or related references so you can easily refer back to them later

  • DO be as clear as possible. (Ask yourself it someone could understand your summary without reading the text)

  • DO be as concise as possible Aim to limit your summaries to no more than 500 words.

  • DON’T include entire paragraphs or lengthy statements - it won’t help you refer quickly refer back to the text later

  • DO use writing to explore your questions or what you’re wondering about

  • DO raise questions that you are not ready to answer

  • DON’T be worried! These texts are unfamiliar, its ok to be uncertain or uncomfortable - this is where learning happens!


Below are two examples of annotated bibliographies for the same text.

Example 1

The Medium is the Massage

The reading discusses the effect media, the mode by which we communicate, have on the society. The media shape how we think and pushes social and cultural changes by changing the “ratio of sense perception.” (41) We are at a transition from mechanization to electric technology. As a result, many things need to, and have to adapt. We need to balance privacy with a desire to know. We need to adapt to the “instantaneous electric information retrieval” in contrast with the “older, traditional ideas of private, isolated thoughts and actions.” (12) The influence of the massive amount of information is more influential to children than parents. The world becomes smaller, and we care about more people than ever. Children are placed in the structured classrooms characteristic of the previous medium that contrasts with the continuous information inflation of today’s medium. Jobs become less fragmented. Politics have come into our living rooms. Media is so pervasive that “they leave no part of us untouched, unaffected, unaltered.” (26) The alphabet, made of meaningless fragments, encourages us to organize the environment in uniform and connected space and time in visual and spatial space. The current medium, however, loses time and space and becomes simultaneous. We can no longer perceive the world a fragment at a time; we need to use “multiple models for exploration.” (69) Like the ears, we perceive the world of information simultaneously. The discord between the youth’s world with technology and his structured education demands a push for discovery from instructions in education. Youths want to be fully involved, not fragmented goals. We are biased to what we see. The invention of printing also brought about the idea of intellectual property, but new technologies value teamwork over individual expression. Television is different from print media in that it engages the viewers and “demands different sensory responses.” (128) It is difficult for us to recognize that new media are not downgrades from older media such as printing or writing, but are really different ways for us to perceive the world.

Example 2

McLuhan, Marshall, The Medium Is the Massage

  • “The medium, or process, of our time– electric technology– is reshaping and restructuring patterns of social interdependence and every aspect of our personal life” (4)

  • “The older, traditional ideas of private, isolated thoughts and actions– the patterns of mechanistic technologies– are very seriously threatened by new methods of instantaneous electric information retrieval” (6).

    • Consider Facebook and Snapchat– just a few examples of people constantly sharing their thoughts, and also pictures, videos, and other forms of media.
  • “The family circle has widened” (7). “Electric circuitry . . . pours upon us instantly and continuously the concerns of all other men” (8).

    • We are constantly in contact with so many people. Every time we update Facebook, hundreds or maybe thousands of people instantly see our post.
  • Through media, we are able to participate in politics in new ways. “The living room has become a voting booth” (11).

  • The above are some examples of how media is changing the world: “personal, political, economic, aesthetic, psychological, moral, ethical, and social consequences” (13).

  • “‘Time’ has ceased, ‘space’ has vanished. We now live in a global village… a simultaneous happening. We are back an acoustic space. . . At the high speeds of electric communication, purely visual means of apprehending the world are no longer possible; they are just too slow to be relevant or effective” (23).

    • We must learn to comprehend the world in new ways.

    • “Where a visual space is an organized continuum of a uniformed connected kind, the ear world is a world of simultaneous relationships” (31).

    • However, people currently seem to trust vision more than hearing (34).

  • “Print technology created the public. Electric technology created the mass” (26).

    • McLuhan believes that each member of the public has different points of view, and the mass describes looking at the big pictures.
  • Teamwork is becoming even more important than individual work in this new age of media (37).

  • McLuhan describes why television is so engaging: “images are projected at you. You are the screen. The images wrap around you. You are the vanishing