Reclaiming Lurking

Stalker

Lurking is a potential problem for theories of social constructivism and principles of active learning. It’s also a problem for data analytics – if the student is not VISIBLE, how do we KNOW that they are learning? The invisible are easy to ignore, easy to problemetise, easy to marginalise, easy to other, easy to shame. It is tempting to chivvy them into participation, but participation without intrinsic engagement and motivation is futile, is facile, is inauthentic. A pedagogic approach that emphasises the visible over all else ignores autonomy, dismisses reasons, denies that another story might exist. This type of approach can force us all to join in the jolly learning games FOR OUR OWN GOOD.

All of this makes me shudder with memories of the forced jollity of childhood – the insistence upon JOINING IN – no sitting in the corner READING quietly while the rest of the (good) children are PLAYING NICELY together. (If you know Joyce Grenfell you will hear her voice here.) I felt odd. I am not shy, yet for most of my life I had no way of describing my need to sometimes pause and reflect before speaking. Now I know that I am not alone – that others (sometimes) feel as I do. But I digress.

When we other the silent participants we risk confusing what is countable, what is trackable, what is noticeable,  for what is important – we risk confusing meaningful learning with what is easy to assess. But learning is not a counting noun – Dave Cormier taught us that. And, if we are not careful, we send students the message that spending time in quiet reflection is somehow wrong, that spending time learning conventions is wrong, that watching is cheating, that this behaviour is FREELOADING and that is JUST NOT CRICKET.

Yet learning often takes time. Thoughts need to percolate. Fine wine is not made overnight. this blog post, for example, began with a discussion on Twitter, and has been knocking around in my head ever since.

So I am stating, here and now, that I am reclaiming lurking. I am reclaiming the behaviour, and I am reclaiming the word. Lurking is allowed. Lurking. Is. Allowed. There, I said it aloud (lol).

I’ve written about this with others before. I’ve used Lave and Wenger’s idea of legitimate peripheral participation to suggest that lurking can be a legitimate strategy for those new to a community and its norms. I’ve talked about how our Facebook groups can help shyer students, and those without English as a native language, to take their time to respond in their own way. I’ve run a Twitter chat to talk in more detail about this. I’m not saying anything new. But the current emphasis on student engagement and active learning makes me want to emphasise this more. Lurking is a legitimate behaviour. It is something we all do from time to time. I lurk, you lurk, we all lurk. (Note, by the way, that I am talking about a behaviour here, and not a type of person – lurking is relational, is situational, is context dependent.)

We learn a lot by doing, I know. We should encourage our students to participate. We should ensure that the digitally shy can be helped to find their voice, that students build their digital capabilities as well as their academic ones. All of these will help them both within academia and beyond it. But any insistence on one size fitting all, of active learning being the only ‘proper’ way of learning, needs to stop.

So the question becomes, I think: how do we, as compassionate educators, allow students opportunities to learn what, when and how they want to learn?

Image of Cagney, lurking in our garden

Posted in #CLMOOC, #rhizo15, Academia, Critical pedagogy, Facebook, Learning, Online learning, Peer interaction, PhD, Teaching | Tagged , , , , , | 14 Comments

A haiku for the weekend

Writing a chunk of my lit review this weekend. I am not sure if these are my favourite books, but they are definitely some of the ones that have had the most influence on my thinking. Some are old friends, others recent recommendations from friends. So it’s opportune that today’s Daily Create asks us to write a haiku about our favourite book. Here’s mine:

Creating with friends

Making, sharing, remixing

Participating

 

Posted in #CLMOOC, DailyCreate, DS106, Online learning, Peer interaction, Poetry, Researcher Journal, Writing | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Authentic writing and academic voice

P1000106

A meeting with my supervisors this week to discuss some of my work. A good meeting – they like my writing, they’re confident in my ability to finish writing up this PhD.

Then Vic speaks. He tells me that he likes my writing style, that he finds it easy to read … and I can hear the “but”  hanging in the air between us.

So is this the style of writing you are going to use for the final draft?

He asks. Or words to that effect. I say that it is, that this is my voice, and that authenticity is a value that runs throughout my thesis.

He nods. I know that he agrees with me, but that “but” still hangs in the air. I say that I’ll put something into my introduction to justify my use of my voice. He nods.

Back home, I search for “academic voice”. I find this:

We use the term academic voice to talk about distinguishing between your thoughts and words, and those of other authors.

So far, so good – I don’t want to be accused of pretending that other folks’ words are mine – I have plenty of words of my own. But how, exactly should I do that? I find this:

When writing a research paper and other academic writing (what is called academic discourse) you’ll want to use what is called the academic voice, which is meant to sound objective, authoritative, and reasonable.

No, no, no. I really do not want to use that voice. That’s not me, that’s not my thesis. This is more like my voice:

Academic voice is a formal way of writing and speaking that is clear, straightforward, and professional without sounding fancy or using unnecessarily complicated vocabulary words.

Clear – I hope so. Straightforward – that would be a goal. But what does it mean to sound professional? I suspect we’re back to that objectivity malarkey again.

It would be awful to get right to the end of this process and trip up because I’ve used the wrong voice.

But this is my voice, and it would be even worse if I stopped myself from speaking authentically.

Posted in #CLMOOC, Researcher Journal, Writing | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

How to philosophise with a hammer

A concept is a brick. It can be used to build the courthouse of reason. Or it can be thrown through the window. Deleuze and Guattari ATP p x11

At other times another means of recovery which is even more to my taste, is to cross-examine idols. There are more idols than realities in the world: this constitutes my “evil eye” for this world: it is also my “evil ear.” To put questions in this quarter with a hammer, and to hear perchance that well-known hollow sound which tells of blown-out frogs,—what a joy this is for one who has cars even behind his cars, for an old psychologist and Pied Piper like myself in whose presence precisely that which would fain be silent, must betray itself. Nietzsche, Twilight of the Idols 

Sometimes philosophy needs to shake things up. Sometimes we can be too polite, sometimes reasoned debate will just not work. I’ve been meaning to write a proper piece about this for a long time now. Maybe I will, and maybe I won’t. In the meantime here’s some snippets, and a damned good tune.

 

 

Posted in D&G, Philosophy, Writing | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Twitter chat personas

Say cheese

I’ve been thinking a lot about the different ways of interacting, or not, on Twitter this week, and I’ve come up with a rough list of types of engagement in Twitter conversations:

  • Academic:  adds relevant academic references
  • Networker: links to others/brings other tweeps into the conversation
  • Self-publicist: always twists the conversation to talk about their work; provides links to their work over and over again
  • Cheerleader: RTs with added positive comments about the original post
  • Enthusiast: replies to say how great everybody and their ideas are
  • Lurker: likes posts, might RT without added comment, but does not post
  • Critic: disagrees, adds alternative points of view, but does so in a positive way*
  • Troll: no need to define these*

What do you think? Do you recognise yourself or others in this categorisation? Ha:ve I missed out any personas you’d include?

* Thanks to Len for these two

Posted in Learning, Online learning, Peer interaction, PhD, Social Media | Tagged , , , , | 3 Comments

It depends how you look at it

Blind men and elephant3

There’s a story that’s often told about a bunch of blind men and an elephant. Each man only encounters a part of the elephant and, based on their partial understanding, disagree with the others about the *real* nature of the animal. I wrote about this years ago on another site, now lost, and I can’t remember exactly what I said, butI said something related during rhizo15.

I’m not a fan of pretending that educational researchers can be objective. However, I don’t think that an implication of this is that all educational research is a matter of subjective opinion – there’s an alternative candidate that’s worth consideration.

Perspectivism is the view that every point of view is a matter of perspective.* Everybody has their own perspective, and it’s important to recognise that this might not be the whole story. This doesn’t mean that truth is subjective, or relative – perspectives can be better or worse than others, and some perspectives can be aggregated to make a bigger story, as the blind men can do in order to get a fuller picture of the elephant – if they take the time to listen to each other.

Rhizomes are like this. Each of us finds our own way of navigating then, each of us have our own perspective. We can often understand others’, and we can agree or disagree with them. Rhizomes are heterogeneous multiplicities, to use some of D&G’s words.

Perspectivism grounds my methodology and my ethical approach for my PhD. I am looking at CLMOOC and putting my interpretation on what I see there, then making my interpretation open to others to agree, or disagree. I’m not pretending to have all of the answers, but I am suggesting a point of view that I think is plausible. I think that’s how educational research should be viewed.

* There’s a lot more to this, of course. I’m not suggesting that there is no such thing as objective truth, it’s more complicated than that. But this will suffice for here.

Posted in #CLMOOC, #rhizo15, D&G, Learning, MOOC, Online learning, Peer interaction, PhD, Philosophy, Researcher Journal, Rhizomes | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Stealing learning

He came like a thief in the night. Stealthily, furtively, he crept in. With nobody watching he grabbed it, clutched at it with all his might, cradled it close to his chest and shuffled away.

This picture of learners who do not actively post, but passively consume, is one that I think is prevalent with some folk. I’m not minded to give in to it – I think that this is an opportunity to reclaim the term. That’s an idea that is at the edge of my mind a lot at the moment. Lurking there, some might say. I’ll say more soon, but in the meantime here’s a couple of my sketches.

Posted in Learning, Online learning, Teaching | Tagged , , , | 6 Comments

Lurkers

Lurker

I lurk

There, I’ve said it out loud. There are times that, for various reasons, I read conversations and watch what is going on without visibly participating. Does that make me a bad person, or is my behaviour an entirely rational response to our busy modern world? Do I need to ‘fess up and join in, or is it socially acceptable nowadays for me to passively consume what others create? These, and other questions, were ones that I posed for a recent LTHEChat.

Lurking gets a lot of bad press. Personally, as I said in the twitter chat, and as I’ve explained in more detail in a recent paper written with some friends, my preferred term is Legitimate Peripheral Participation – a phrase we take from Lave and Wenger. But I still use lurking as a shorthand for that phrase, as it doesn’t trip off the tongue easily!

So  what do you think? Is lurking a shady thing to do? I don’t think so.

Posted in Learning, MOOC, Online learning, Peer interaction, PhD, Teaching, University | Tagged , | 8 Comments

Turn a flower into a bird

Daffodil

A great daily create today, imo (disclaimer: I submitted the idea). I took a photo of a daffodil that I took a couple of months ago and put it through an online app that turns photos into drawings, and messed around for a few minutes till I had an outline I liked.

Then I printed it out and got out my pencil case. I could already see the makings of a beak and a scruffy body, and this is what appeared.

Scruff

Posted in DailyCreate, DS106, Flowers, Photos | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Summer doodles, and more

Hello all – how’s July for you so far? Here in Glasgow it’s hot, and I am hiding in my study looking out over our garden with berries ripening, potato plants thriving- so much promise, so much sun.

But, luckily, as I hide in my cool study, I have plenty to occupy me. Because this is July, and CLMooc has a month of creativity to inspire me Come and join us, if you will, as we share pictures and poems with each other before joining up with a wider community from the middle of July.

All are welcome. I hope to see you there. If you like, I’ll also send you a postcard.

Posted in #CLMOOC, DailyCreate, Gifting, Love, Peer interaction, postcards, Scotland | Tagged , , | 1 Comment