This post is a shout out to a fellow educator whose thoughtful insights on what it means to be “connected” helped me put my own professional/personal online activities into context. I first encountered an article by Rafranz Davis in the following way:
A twitter link posted by Tom Whitby on Oct. 2nd led me to a blog post celebrating CEM (Connected Educator Month) by Stephanie Sandifer which lists a number of articles written by prominent and perhaps not so prominent connected educators (http://ed421.com/?p=3068). That’s where I found Rafranz’s article on edSurge: “Connected, Lurking, and Listening” https://www.edsurge.com/n/2013-09-24-connected-lurking-and-listening
In this eloquent article she describes those educators who read, follow, take in and experiement with what social media forums such as twitter and the many related chat groups offer but who do not yet actively contribute. These folks are termed: “lurkers.” Her point is that educators who are not out there tweeting and blogging to beat the band can and do benefit from the myriad possibilities to seek out new perspectives, special expertise and the comfort of shared stories, even if they themselves are not yet joining the conversation or creating output. And here the emphasis is on “yet.” Rafranz offers readers insight into her own path to full connectedness and also illustrates how many of her colleagues discovered their own paths in learning to make use of their online learning for the benefit of students.
This post spoke to me so directly because it captures where I see myself: I am a social media lurker when it come to topics educational. My twitter feed has become a genuine fountain of ideas and worthy perspectives which I enjoy sharing per e-mail with colleagues and friends as the situation fits. Occasionally I will retweet something out to my 4 (!) followers but that doesn’t have the same priority. My own blog posts show up in my twitter feed but if anyone arrives there I think it is largely by accident. And all of that is completely OK. I didn’t enter the twitter stream to become a big fish. I wanted to find out what all the positive fuss was about. Now at least I have a good inkling and I look forward to making the most of my lurker/listener existence. Am I a connected educator? Sure. And I am happy to say for the time being I feel connected enough.
I also want to add that the notion of being connected enough is one I have been wrestling with based on some of the more prominent voices in the educational twitterverse. In some cases I felt discouraged because I wasn’t tweeting up a storm and widening my online reach, although that aspect of online presence still does not interest me. This is yet another reason that Rafranz’s voice arrived at just the right time to remind us all that there are many roads to learning and expanding our professional repertoire. And good, deep listening is a piece of the communication puzzle that is so often left to chance and allowed to founder. Lurker/listeners have a significant role to play in the educational commons were create daily. I am proud to be among them.
Thank you, Rafranz, for the words of encouragement and boost of confidence.