As I move into digital spaces with more frequency and greater presence, I ponder the words and elements that connect to digital citizenship. As a citizen, I have a right and responsibility to participate and share my voice. I should stand for values and freedoms that are held dear to myself and others. This includes actions and words that create, give voice and include me in networks of other citizens. As a citizen in digital spaces, I will sift, listen, explore, seek, master, maintain and engage in conversations, research, and dissemination of ideas and actions. Being a digital citizen is hard work - but so is being a citizen in real world scenarios!
I confessed in class this week that I was a 'lurker' and received a smattering of chuckles from those who heard me. While I may have taken offence to this reaction in the past, I have made peace with my 'lurking' nature. I know it's OK to be a viewer from the periphery. It's natural to want to watch while others jump into things when you don't know what to expect. It's embedded into our DNA so it's OK. It's part of being an 'ambivert'! It's about being comfortable in quietly learning from the sidelines or noisily joining into the digital game. Part introvert, part extrovert, it's being at peace in quiet and noisy digital places.
So why does 'lurking' bring up a negative connotation within digital spaces? Is it the creepy nature of all things dark and mysterious? I know there are certainly lurkers out in the digi-sphere that have less than positive intentions. That's the nature of this beast we call the Internet. But my ability to watch and learn while others move ahead, modelling with fearlessness all those things I may not understand, will help my resolve to engage and participate. As teachers, we need to support those in our classrooms who need time to 'lurk' and look before they engage and participate.
This coming week, in class, we'll explore participatory culture. At some point, digitally savvy teachers need to move beyond the lurking and watching. As I teach this group of 'soon-to-be-teachers' I will model a process for them to move from 'watching from the sidelines' in digital spaces to one of full and active participation within supportive and collaborative communities of digital teachers and learners.
My 'lurking' days are over. I'm actively playing in the global, digital sandbox! Join me @MDL4000 - it's ok, you can lurk for a while! (I recently came across this blog post that made me feel proud that I admitted to my lurking - The Power of the Lurker!)