Beyond Lurking

When I first read the word “lurker” I had a somewhat adverse reaction. I am quite familiar with the term from being a long time lurker on Reddit. When I did try to connect and contribute to the community there was some very unnecessary and negative feedback. It was actually quite shocking, and without going into too much detail I simply suggested a book as one of my top five only to be called a very derogatory terms. This was also when I learned about trolls. Anyways, I still stood by my opinion thatThe Master and Margarita” by Mikhail Bulgakov is one of the most fantastic books I have ever read and brushed it off.

I suppose one thing that has stopped me from contributing more frequently to digital media could be that fear of rejection, negativity, confrontation, not being accepted, and the list of issues I am discovering about myself goes on. When thinking about our students, how many of them could be afraid of contributing to online discussions because of similar reasons or experiences, and in the context of the classroom how this can affect learning? We want our students to be creators, not consumers and I see these two terms as almost one and the same with a connector and lurker. As a learner, I need to overcome those trepidations and begin contributing more frequently to help me not only get feedback from others but also reflect and learn about my own practice. We know that so much learning takes place during the reflective process.  How can I find the time and right platform to take a quick step back and think about my practice and share ideas with others?

Has the one percent grown or shrank since 2013? Reading Utecht’s article had me think first about how I disconnect, and also connected to my own practice of how I encourage my students and even daughter how to create on the digital tools we use together. I disconnect as much as I can, from leaving my phone in my coat at home to not even bringing it on vacation (except sometimes for music). I think I am on the right track in my own teaching practice, but as a creator that remains a goal.

When I think about the research in Online Personas a question that came to mind is don’t we all want our students to be connectors in their digital world? Don’t we want them to bring the world together, to seek out ways to find information and connect that information with others who need it? Mavens are also awesome. I had a student find a resource and a technique in the classroom today and immediately airdropped it to the class. All of a sudden students started sharing all sorts of tips and tricks, they love to be the expert. Just some small glimpses of actions on the level of a nine-year-old inspired me to think about how I can take baby steps to move away from lurking. We wouldn’t expect our students to just be consumers so it is time to move out of the comfort zone. 

via GIPHY

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5 Responses to Beyond Lurking

  1. Hi Flynn, thanks for an honest post, especially for sharing your Reddit experience, unfortunate about that, but Reddit can at times be the Wild West of social media. I think your point about the 1% is well taken, the article is from 2013, so it would be interesting to see 2018 statistics. We know that the web is continually expanding and we know that more users are continually engaged. 300 Hours of content are loaded every minute on to YouTube, and YouTube alone, imagine the rest of the web!

    Great example from your classroom! I love when those moments happen, you can almost see those synapses firing! Good luck in your own journey, I think a great place to start is with Twitter, I have found it a great way to build a PLN, and not only lurk, but contribute content you have created, or the great things happening in your classroom.

    • mccreathf says:

      Thanks for the feedback Ryan, I will continue my Twitter journey. I already enjoy your posts.

      Wow, three hundred hours of Minecraft and Fortnight videos a day!

  2. Matt Broughton says:

    Hi Flynn,

    I had a good laugh at your Reddit experience – I’ve posted exactly twice in my six years lurking on Reddit and had a very similar experience. I guess Reddit just isn’t the best place to make that step from lurker to contributor.

    I agree with you regarding the need for disconnection and I like how you model that for your daughter. Last week I read an article that states that most of the evidence suggesting digital technologies negatively impact young people’s psychological well-being isn’t significant enough to promote the current levels of panic that we are seeing. However, at the end of the article I read this bit:

    “All of this is not to say there is no danger whatsoever in digital technology use. In a previous paper, Przybylski and colleague Netta Weinstein demonstrated a “Goldilocks” effect showing moderate use of technology—about one to two hours per day on weekdays and slightly more on weekends—was “not intrinsically harmful,” but higher levels of indulgence could be.”

    As it turns out, a few months ago I asked all our smart phone carrying grade 6 students to take out their phone, check the screen time app and tell me their average daily use for the last week. While I can’t remember the exact numbers, a significant number of our students were using their phones more than two hours a day. That only counts phones and not laptop usage!

    Scary stuff!

    Here the article I was reading: https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/the-kids-who-use-tech-seem-to-be-all-right/

    • I’m with both of you regarding lurking stemming from a bad Reddit experience. I think mine was something along the lines of “wow, this is great” and I got 7 downvotes. It was small, but it made me feel like my comments weren’t witty enough.

      I think YouTube is similar for kids today in many ways. If you’re an up and coming vlogger, it’s your face that’s on the screen! Those YouTube comments can be so hateful and make you want to go back to lurking.

      So as tech leaders in our own schools, how can we help kids have authentic experiences posting and sharing while guiding them through these potentially hostile environments?

  3. Love this last paragraph connecting the idea to the classroom. This made me think about the prevalence of all of these personas in my own grade 5 community! You make such a good point that we want our students to be more than just lurkers, so we’ve got to push ourselves and lead by example!

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