As you may recall from my Visitor-Resident Map, I am not a strong contributor to online communities. Another side to my online engagement is due to my working background. My Feedly subscriptions heavily favour graphic design topics; on Twitter I follow a few brands, some friends/co-workers (mostly designers) and a few people I respect; Facebook is only used for Messenger; LinkedIn is almost strictly business connections (mostly design related); Instagram (personal and sourdough) is really the only place I’m currently active. Out of the last 10 working years only two have been in education, which has caused me to have a rather small community within the teaching/education sphere. On top of this, due to my lack of intentional activity I am without much of any following on any social media platform.

  • Instagram (personal 🧔): 144 followers
  • Instagram (sourdough 🥖): 148 followers
  • Twitter: 37 followers 😳

This is my current situation, but that does not mean it is where I want to stay. When I was watching Henry Jenkins video on participatory culture, I found myself drawn to his comment that many people are producing online content “because there’s something they vitally want to share.” (Jenkins, 2013, 2:23) This lead me to consider what there is, if anything, that I vitally want to share. I don’t have a solid answer for this yet, but it is an idea I am wrestling with.

Digital presence

Any direction I take within my digital presence needs to be toward a defined goal. While White & Le Cornu (2011) stated that it is only the Visitor’s perspective to select a tool to achieve a goal, I feel that movement towards the Resident end of the spectrum should also involve some level of strategic thinking. There can still be an intentionality behind the networks formed and the relationships built.

My goals around digital presence focus on creating a network for inspiration and support. Through my digital presence I hope to discover new insights, challenge my own ideas, gather constructive feedback, and express my academic musings. Currently, I try to accomplish this through my network of relationships with colleagues, friends, and family. While these existing networks have worked up to this point, I need to broaden my network to enable a wider spectrum of inputs. A network that can do this should meet three elements of trust: ability, benevolence, and integrity (Meyer et al., 1995). Do they have expertise in the topic, care about the welfare of others, and adhere to principles acceptable to the context?

Discover new insights

In the past, I have used Feedly and colleagues when I need new perspectives on an idea, but my Feedly subscriptions are mostly technology and design blogs which do not fit my current needs. To address this, I will research and subscribe to blogs focused on open education, online learning, instructional technology, and other appropriate topics. I will also use Twitter, though not my strength, to follow experts in these same topics. The blogs of my MALAT classmates will also be a quality resources for thoughts and insights on the topics we are covering. These experts and classmates will enable me to see perspectives on teaching I had not previously considered and will open me up to research new concepts connected with their ideas.

Challenge my own ideas

I rely on my colleagues to challenge my ideas and to help me grow to be a better instructor. Aside from colleagues, outside inputs on my ideas are few since those ideas often stay in my own mind, without being offered up for critique. To address this, I plan to use my MALAT blog as a place to offer up some of those thoughts to critique, as well as using Twitter (with appropriate hashtags) to gather feedback from a broader community. Part of reaching this goal will also involve choosing Feedly subscriptions and following Twitter users who are trustworthy, but also push the boundaries of my instructional comfort zone. Colleagues and family will always remain a key element of this goal, as they meet the three elements of trust better than any other network. These inputs from a broader community will challenge my perspectives and have me thinking more critically about ideas I thought I previously understood.

Gather constructive feedback

This goal is like the second goal, only it is a little further down the thought pathway. It is for those thoughts that I have constructed more thoroughly, that have simmered a bit longer. Social media will not fit my trustworthiness needs at this level. To meet this goal, I need a caring community that can offer honest and helpful feedback. I will use communication with colleagues through face-to-face, online messaging or video chats (Microsoft Teams), while also getting help from second-level contacts who have offered to supply feedback if needed. This will improve my thought and writing output to, ideally, get better grades.

Express my academic musings

There are times when it is important for me to put into words the ideas I am working through. I can do this through Twitter, my MALAT blog, online communication with colleagues, or even talking aloud in my home. The elements of trust remain essential, since the vulnerability of expressing myself openly requires that the person I am sharing with is able to understand what I am talking about, cares about what I am going through, and has the integrity to not misuse what I am sharing. When I am free to express my internal thoughts with those around me it will improve my mental health thanks to the feeling of comradery and openness.

Digital identity

Throughout all these channels and methods of interaction, whether digital or analog, my identity tends to remain the same. We all know that what we say on Twitter is likely to remain forever and may haunt us years down the road, and this idea has shaped the way I have approached my digital identity from the beginning. Being against something, to tear something down, tends to be far easier than to build something. With every post, interaction, share, and conversation I try (often failing) to add something good. It could be useful, funny, intelligent, artistic, etc. but it should add to a community rather than being detrimental to another. Aside from this, my only other rules for my online (and offline) identity is that I attempt to do my best, to be professional, and try not to take anything so seriously that I cannot laugh at it a little.

This was much longer than I originally intended, but it was necessary for me to think through all of this and make a coherent plan. I apologize for the length and I hope you did not read the whole thing.

References

Jenkins, H. (2013, May 7). Henry Jenkins on Participatory Culture (Big Thinkers Series) [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1gPm-c1wRsQ&

Mayer, R. C., Davis, J. H., & Schoorman, F. D. (1995). An Integrative Model of Organizational Trust. The Academy of Management Review, 20(3), 709. https://doi.org/10.2307/258792

White, D. S., & Le Cornu, A. (2011). View of Visitors and Residents: A new typology for online engagement. First Monday, 16(9). https://firstmonday.org/article/view/3171/3049