How does it feel to participate in public?


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This was a guest lecture presented online at 12.30pm, Monday 14th October 2013, as part of Session 2: Co-creation in the University of Edinburgh Institute for Academic Development's Online Tutoring course (Autumn 2013).

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How does it feel to participate in public?

  1. 1. How does it feel to participate in public? Nicola Osborne, Social Media Officer
  2. 2. What do I mean by “In Public” • Posting something online to friends and colleagues doesn’t necessarily mean it is “private” to them. • Posting something open to the world doesn’t necessarily mean you wanted it to be public, to be global, to be seen by everyone. • Public and private blur (boyd 2010), particularly in online learning spaces and social media spaces – we are a Google away from our identities merging.
  3. 3. “In Public” can also be about student context Participating online can mean participating in public or semipublic spaces, with viewers, distractions, restrictions, overhearing, being observed… Home Office – relaxing mode by Flickr user jholster / Jaakko Holster Cindarella’s Using WiFi by Flickr user CarbonNYC / David Goehring
  4. 4. What is “Participation” here? • Participation may range from asking questions and engaging in discussions through to elaborate collaborative projects or peer learning activities. • Negotiating roles and contribution may look different, online can mean: – Absence of physical cues and indicators of who is speaking, their frustrations or emotional context. – Lurking students or absent students making group construction and bonding challenging. – Asynchronous discussion and planning, sometimes across timezones. – Greater non-learning pressures for time and accompanying preference for focusing on assessed activity. – Contributing can mean overwriting or editing others’ work in a very direct way (e.g. wikis, collaborative documents). Yoly, Peter, Holly & Rob by Flickr user joeflintham / Joe Flintham Presenting to the group by Flickr user epredator / Ian Hughes
  5. 5. (Lack of) Anonymity • In the classroom students (largely) elect who to expose full names to… • VLEs usually attach real names to comments, postings, collaborative work and, often, connect these to student numbers used in numerous semi-anonymous administrative functions by the University. • Wikis track and record every change attributing changes to specific users and timestamps. Errors are public. Corrections are public. • Google+ launched requiring the use of real names (see e.g. Blue 2011). • Facebook have repeatedly re-set privacy settings to default to “public”, most recently with search changes in October 2013 (see Constine 2013). • Twitter updates are public. Even “private” accounts can be easily accessed via the API. Teaching and Learning online means understanding and acknowledging the more public nature of the space.
  6. 6. Constructing Online Identity This makes me gag just looking at it – sword swallower of Clan Tynker by Flickr user Alaskan Dude / Frank Kovalchek • When performing in public we may present ourselves in highly curated ways. Who is watching and where we are participating changes what we are willing to expose about ourselves (Goffman 1959). • Looking at academics’ engagement online Barbour & Marshall (2012) suggests use of: formal self; public self; comprehensive self; teaching self; uncontainable self. • What does that mean for learners constructing their learning identity online? • How does an online learner’s identity connect to their other online or offline lives? How is this different to the in-person learning experience?
  7. 7. Safe Spaces for Learning • In person engaging and collaborating can mean taking a risk, exposing ignorance or misunderstanding, being visible in the room… • The same actions in online learning contexts can mean: – Identifying yourself by name, by image or both as you take that risk… – Exposing your non-learner identity online, particularly if engaging via social media used for learning and personal activities… – That may include exposing your subject or professional misunderstandings or ignorance to professional contacts or future employers (as in Ferdig et al 2008). – And your comments and participation may never disappear – it can remain there indefinitely 20120209-RA-NCATT-0001 by Flickr user USDAgov / U.S. Department of Agriculture Group work “Geopolitical Aspects” by Flickr user Lisavanovitch/ Lisa Vanovitch
  8. 8. Establishing Trust • What can you do to create that safe online space? For making errors and learning from them? For sharing and collaborating openly? • How will you negotiate your own online identity or identities as you interact in your teaching and learning spaces? • How can you make students who are not keen to actively engage visible, confident, part of the group? • How can you manage more vocal, more active, more attention seeking students who are not collaborating well online? • How will you be able to detect an absence of collaboration and co-creation? Or assess the balance of contributions? How can participation be prompted or supported online?
  9. 9. Empathising with the Student Experience • The online medium is often text, and that can feel different than a comment or response in person: – Informal feedback can seem to carry the weight and significance of formal assessment and feedback. – It can be reread and fretted over – It may also be read and reread by others – It can be more easily misinterpreted depending on the perspective of the reader… • Online participations in informal collaborative learning contexts appear to be sensitive to correction and may try to make corrections in private rather than in public (Osborne 2012).
  10. 10. Expansive Opportunities • Co-creation of learning in these spaces can mean a greater sense of ownership and agency, improved confidence in using the online learning spaces or tools, a greater sense of community (as discussed in Delahunty et al 2013). • The diversity of student contexts can create serendipitous opportunities and unexpected perspectives… • It can also be a really fun and engaging way to learn! • A safe online space can mean quieter or more shy students engage more actively or vocally, emboldened by the differing etiquette and affordances of online spaces. • Peers may support each other beyond official teaching and learning times, or beyond the bounds of a module or course. • Peers may form social communities which can be productive and constructive (although not always). See Hallam et al (2011).
  11. 11. Terms and Conditions • Making informed choices is central to use of social media and noninstitutional online spaces and tools… • What type of spaces or experiences are appropriate to your students, their context, their professional aspirations or experience (e.g. see the General Medical Council’s Social Media Guidance) • You need to know what you asking your students to do: – Are you requiring them to register for new sites/spaces? Is that appropriate or justifiable? – Understand what data they will be sharing and what might happen to it – engage with the Terms of Service for any tool you use. – What happens if students do not want to use a particular space, particularly a third party/commercially operated space? – How will you ensure your teaching and learning activity is accessible, or a suitable alternative is accessible, to your students?
  12. 12. References • • • • • • • • • • • Barbour, K. and Marshall, D., 2012. The academic online: constructing persona through the www. In First Monday, 17(9) [Online]. Available from Blue, V., 2011. 2011: Nymwars Year Zero. In Violet Blue’s ZDNet Pulp Tech Blog, 22nd December 2011. Available at: boyd, d., 2010. Making sense of privacy and publicity. South by SouthWest (SXSW) conference. Austin, Texas. Available from: boyd, d. 2012. The Politics of 'Real Names': Power, Context, and Control in Networked Publics. In Communications of the ACM, 55(8), pp. 29-31. Available from: Constine, J., 2013. Facebook removing option to be unsearchable by name, highlighting lack of universal privacy controls. In TechCrunch, 10th October 2013. Available from: Delahunty, J., Verenikina, I. and Jones, P., 2013. Socio-emotional connections: identity, belonging and learning in online interactions. A literature review. In Technology, Pedagogy and Education. Available from: Ferdig, R., Dawson, K., Black, E. W., Paradise Black, N. M., and Thompson, L. A., 2008. Medical students? and residents? use of online social networking tools: Implications for teaching professionalism in medical education. In First Monday, 13 (9), 1st September 2008. Available from: Goffman, E., 1959. The presentation of self in everyday life. New York, NY: Anchor Books. Hallam Goodband, J., Solomon, Y., Samuels, P.C., Lawson, D. and Bhakta, R., 2012. Limits and potentials of social networking in academia: case study of the evolution of a mathematics Facebook community. In Learning, Media and Technology, 37(3), pp. 236-252, DOI: 10.1080/17439884.2011.587435. Available from: Osborne, N., 2012. Continuous professional development in collaborative social media spaces. MSc. University of Edinburgh. Available from: Osborne, N. and O’Shea, C., 2012. Copy of Managing Academic Identities in Social Media for IDEL [presentation]. Available from:
  13. 13. Useful Resources: Terms & Conditions • • • • • • • • • University of Edinburgh Social Media Guidelines: University of Edinburgh Writing for the Web Guidelines: University of Edinburgh Social and Cloud Computing Advisory Service. Forthcoming later this year from Learning Services. General Medical Council Doctors Use of Social Media – notes on the new Good Medical Practice guidance: IBM Social Computing Guidelines: A good example of an open but well thought through organisational approach to social media. JISC legal: source of guidance for HE and FE on the use of technology in education, research and external engagement. Includes legal guidance on various social media tools including Facebook and Pinterest. Facebook Terms of Service: Twitter Terms of Service: Google and Google+ Terms of Service:
  14. 14. Discussion… • How have you found it learning and reflecting in front of others? • Did this feel different from developing thoughts and ideas in your normal offline space? • In the Padlet activity did the merging of your offline identity with your online learner identity feel comfortable, safe, concerning? • How do you feel about this being public to the world? • How did you find this week’s Wiki activity? • Did anyone edit your text? • What was your response to or experience of that?
  15. 15. Questions? • Please do continue discussions via Learn or Twitter (#EdOnlineTut) • I am happy to answer specific question around the use of social media - or on anything we do here at EDINA: