Week 1 readings gave substance to the reason why I joined the COETAIL program. First of all, a lurker is not a word I was familiar with, so I checked its definition: ” In Internet culture, a lurker is typically a member of an online community or PLN who observes, but does not participate.”
Clearly, without knowing the word for it, I am a lurker (shame on me!). Can I be exempt or even forgiven: part of my job as a librarian is to look up for facts and teach students how to effectively research reliable information, and today it means scouting the online subscriptions and the World World Web.
Well, “part of my job” should give you a hint: nowadays the role of school libraries is constantly evolving and moving away, or at least expanding, from its traditional missions in order to meet students needs and to help them become fully equipped citizens in a rapidly changing digital environment. Libraries are becoming vibrant places where collaboration is natural, and the use of technology such as green screen filming equipment, sound recording… is encouraged if not required. Makerspaces are often part of libraries.
This is why it was enlighting to read about the different types of social media users in Online Personas: Who We Become When We Learn with Others Online (Lloyd, Skyring and Fraser), the main ones being mavens, connectors, and challengers. Interestingly, one individual can adopt different personas on social media depending on the context.
In 2020 students are immersed in technology use, both recreational and educational. As one can read in the first part of the Living with New Media (John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation) project, the immediacy and breadth of information they have, allow self-directed learning. The new media allow for some freedom and autonomy and can nurture motivation as efforts are self-directed. The outcome will emerge from exploration. It sounds clear that to be successful educators need to be able to provide these possibilities within the classroom.
So, To Lurk or not to Lurk?
Everyone has been a lurker at some point, if only as a newbie. The importance is to rapidly expand our role within the online media and becoming a connector.
As outlined by Cofino in her First Steps Toward Becoming a 21st Century Educator, the powers of web 2.0 technologies are fascinating and revealing as they will help teachers -who must remain learners- communicate, collaborate and connect with other educators, creating a network based on interest, skills and experience.
And when Utecht asks: What does it mean to disconnect?, he redirects the conversation to this essential aspect of the use of technology: are we consuming, using or creating?
So, in reality, he is not, as we might first think, referring to disconnecting from all “screens” but asking how we are interacting with technology. And stating that creating means an active mind at work, and the world need creators, innovators and problem-solvers.
And if our students need to be, so do we. So do I.
“Spending time with technology is not a bad thing… it is how you spend that time that counts” (Utecht)
The image above shows how I feel at the beginning of this journey: I started the trip, climbed some steep steps, the most challenging part is still ahead, but I am looking up to the destination: the sky and trees waiting for me. And then at some point, somehow, you realize that the endpoint is not important: what is, is what you gain along the way, and how you continue to grow.