Reflecting on my online digital presence before and after the pandemic, I noticed that it has altered how I choose to interact on and offline with friends, family, colleagues and students. Before the pandemic most of my organizational relationships were completely face-to-face or through email. At the start of the pandemic within the span of a week everything went completely online. Our organization didn’t have the technology, infrastructure or training so it was crisis learning at its best and worst. Our board made most of the choices as to how our members interacted professionally online. In my personal sphere I had always had a very large digital footprint. The pandemic changed everything and this was compounded by the news in America. It was disheartening. Invasive surveillance, algorithms that had discrimination built in and fake news that had me disillusioned and questioning my participation in many of the online spaces that I had once cherished. Was this because of my age? Was I fatigued? Or just very very overwhelmed. The answer to these questions is becoming clearer.
In my organization we were pushed to create online presences to facilitate connections with our students. I was compelled to try new ways to engage students and staff digitally. I realized that this might be a marathon and got curious. I think this was the turning point. My current digital presence is almost solely for reaching out to students or learning how to be a better teacher during these difficult times. I want to cultivate a more open and authentic digital presence (Schryver, 2013) in the spaces I currently reside in as outlined by Dave Cormier who stated that we need to bring our values through our participation and that the internet is too powerful to ignore and leave to other people (Stewart, 2019). I am feeling a little more ready to jump back in and bring some change. “Open!” (Coolidge, 2021). Ruminating on what my skills are, I think my skills are communication and empathy.
My students had apprehension about these digital spaces and at first I did too. Many of them confessed that they never knew they could learn so much online and build community with people they had never met in person. I think this was one moment when I felt success – Open! My skill and knowledge gaps are wide, but there was some excellent advice I was given by a senior colleague. She called it the “halo effect” (Perera, 2021). If you do your best and make a good first impression, students are more willing to forgive shortcomings and feelings of trust will ensue, making for a better online community. My goals are to take more risks with my online presence and reside in them with more finesse, flexibility and openness. The reading and lectures I have experienced have put new tools in my toolbox with regard to having the shared vocabulary to communicate what I am experiencing. The three biggest things I hope to develop are my blog and academic writing skills which include being aware of tone; being more adept at trying new platforms and with less fear; and understanding what it means to be a member of the open learning community. Let it be open!
Coolidge, A., (2021). Open Education: what it is; what it does and its amazing impact! [Video]. Blackboard Collaborate. https://ca.bbcollab.com/collab/ui/session/playback
Perera, A., (2021). Why the Halo Effect Affects How We Perceive Others. Halo Effect: Definition and Examples | Simply Psychology
Schryver, K., (2013, February 5). Who are you online? Considering issues of web identity. The New York Times blogs. Alternate link to the The NYT blogs site.
Stewart, B., Phipps, L., & Cormier, D. (2019, April 10). The Participatory open: Can we build a Pro-Social, Pro-Societal web? [Video]. You Tube. https://oer19.oerconf.org/sessions/the-participatory-open-can-we-build-a-pro-social-pro-societal-web-o-127/