Earlier in the week I posted about being a Connected Educator. Since then I’ve also been thinking about those educators who are connected but not yet putting their voices out in the digital space professionally. Lurker is the term I’ve heard to describe people who read on social media but don’t comment or post themselves. But lurker has such an evil sound to it–as though they lurk in order to gain information for underhanded reasons. In some ways they seem to me to be listeners, like those students in my classroom who are soaking everything up like sponges but can’t yet bear to raise their hand and make a public comment.
Like the students in my classroom, I suspect that those digital listeners will at some point begin to comment and post for themselves, they just aren’t ready…yet. And since I started this blog (almost three months ago), I have had many instances of people making comments about my content when I’ve had no evidence of their interaction. It feels a bit odd at first. Almost like someone is eavesdropping on a conversation that they are not participating in. But then again, I am making a choice to put my writing and thinking out in the public sphere. And whether people chose to comment or “like” my blog post is a decision for them to make. It also reminds me as a reader of blogs and other social media that I read substantially more than I comment or otherwise indicate my presence.
And I also know that sometimes it just takes the right condition to get someone to dip their toe into the social media waters. If you listen to the NWP radio show on being a Connected Educator you will hear Abby and Janis and Barb talk about getting started and how much it helps to have support, like when our SDAWP teachers take on the Twitter account as @SDAWP_Fellow for a week. (We adapted that idea from Sweden’s practice of having a citizen take on the country’s Twitter account.) It’s also like having Barb and Matt’s support when trying out blogging on our collaborative blog, SDAWP Voices.
Today for my #sdawpphotovoices photo-a-day I took a photo of what I thought was some kind of fungus making a silky white coating on the leaves of our hibiscus plant. When I posted it to Instagram and Twitter, I got a response from one of my colleagues from my school site via Twitter telling me that this “fungus” was in fact white flies. I knew my colleague had a Twitter account, but she seldom tweets. I do try to nudge my colleagues when I see something that I think will interest them by “mentioning” them on Twitter. (I know I’m more likely to respond when someone “elbows” me and points me to something that has been posted.) I did this on Friday with my colleague when I saw an app I thought she might find interesting. And she acknowledged that tweet by replying. And then today, without a nudge, she shared valuable information with me about my plant.
There are stages to being connected. Most people start slow (I know I did) and then work up to more active participation. For most of us that’s how we learn to do a lot of things. We watch, we listen, we test, we get some feedback and then continue to increase our confidence and participation–or abandon that thing altogether. As educators we can’t afford to abandon digital literacy or being connected educators, but it isn’t necessary to jump in the deep end. There are lots of support systems out there.
In what ways are you connected? What is the one thing you will do in the next week to increase your connectedness? Will you comment on a blog? Respond to a tweet? Tweet a link to an interesting article or blog post? Start a Twitter account? (You are welcome to follow me @kd0602) I’d love to know if you are willing to post your goal as a comment!