I must confess… as a Technology Integration Specialist, I tend to gain all of my information the old fashion way. I read articles, attend conferences or learn from peers. Offline, I am a extremely social and would categorize myself as a people person. I think this is one of the reasons why I have a hard time connecting and starting that initial online connections because I naturally connect best face to face. Being a social person, I have found that online courses have always been difficult for me and now that I am embarking on this COETAIL journey, I realize that is a challenge and a huge learning curve. My online presence is a direct reflection of my offline presence. While reading Living and Learning with New Media, the description of teenager use of new media sounded like a read of my own personal online use. I am “always on” and my online presence are an extension of my offline friendships and connections.
After reading the initial definition of a lurker on Wikipedia, I started to ask myself, am I a true lurker? I have been lurking on a few communities that are interest based. I find that they are a place where I can gather ideas or recommendations but just like the rationale in Wikipedia, I don’t always participate for a few different reasons. I am afraid that I will say something that has already been discussed or I am afraid of rejection from the community. I was starting to feel a bit ashamed of my lurking way but after further reading, categorizing myself as a lurker wasn’t that easy. Jeff Utecht argues in What Does it Mean to Disconnect?, that there are two camps: consumer or creator. Was I a consumer or a creator? Since moving to China, I haven’t used twitter at all even though when I did it was mostly digital noise, a phrase I just learned from William Ferriter’s Why Teachers Should Try Twitter. After reading Joel Bevan’s post I am a lurker… but I’m changing, I took stock of my social media and I would argue that I’m a creator on Instagram and Facebook. I wouldn’t even consider myself a lurker on twitter as I don’t use it ever but I’m not consistent in my posts since I live in China and require a VPN to post to all of these platforms. I think there’s more than being a consumer or a creator. I think it’s still important to be a participant. According to Wikipedia, a participant is someone who doesn’t create any posts but will participate by liking something. This cycle of being a consumer to participant to creator doesn’t have to be cyclical but a we can go in and out of all of these roles depending on our level of understanding and confidence in a particular subject matter.
The internet is a mass of connections and a mass of content. Twitter is a great example. You can connect to people as well as connect to very specific interests. I have heard about how twitter is a great resource for the educational tech community but as the Tech. Integration Coordinator, how can I know what is appropriate and not appropriate for my students until I become well versed as a digital learner too?
In the context of my students though, how can I help them overcome the hurdles that I’m feeling? I need to be the first example and be a model on how to become more of a creator and less of a consumer. I don’t have a professional online presence or community so how can I keep up to date on the latest research and technology for my students? The more limited I am, the more limited they are. With COETAIL’s push, I’m hoping that I can finally take the plunge and get connected online professionally.