This week has been very thought-provoking in week in the #Etmooc adventure. As we are entering our second week on the topic of “Connected Learning” I have started to see rumblings about identity and a digital presence. (May also have to do with the start-up of #edcmooc). One of the things that has struck me about #etmooc is the openness to expression. Participants are encouraged to try different tools to express themselves. There is no right or wrong medium. participants are using twitter, Google+, Vlogs (so cool!) and a number of other tools. As a participant you can use your medium as a sounding board for ideas, a space for creation or simply a way to share what you know.
Here are two really great posts I read this past weekend that got me thinking. The first is about being authentic (great posts by Karen Gitchel Kgitch on Authenticity and the second is about digital identity Erin Leestark On digital dualism (or why, in 2013, are people still fear mongering the Internet?).
When I tell people (usually other educators) that I tweet and blog regularly for PD I often hear concerns around digital identity and footprint. Many people fear that they will somehow ‘mess up’ and that there will be long-term consequences. While this is a completely possible outcome I would argue that if you conduct yourself professionally the benefits that come with blogging and tweeting far outweigh the negative outcomes (I could have said that more eloquently if it weren’t for Monday evening teaching brain). Besides it is better to be known for the amazing work you put out there than for the random things that could possibly pop up if you weren’t?
Perhaps one of the hardest things when it comes to writing and creating is finding your voice. It takes time to figure out what you want to say and how you want to say it. Perhaps this is where much of the above mentioned fear comes in to play. Do people fear being misinterpreted, misunderstood or judged? Of course we do. Putting yourself out there takes courage but it also doesn’t mean that you have to reveal everything about yourself. (Just like anything in life it’s all about balance). The online educational community is supportive and kind who can challenge and critique to help you push your thinking.
Karen Gitchel’s (Kgitch on Authenticity ) post reminded me that being authentic is what helps draw people to us. We all crave connection in some form or another. After all connection is what makes us human. Seeing people taking joy in what they do is one of the greatest parts of being part of the online educational community and partaking in a courses like #etmooc and #edcmooc. It is probably why I am enjoying the courses as much as I am: connection. There is no pressure if you can’t commit hours to the courses and communities but yet we commit what we can. We are learning for the sake of learning. No one is paying us to create, share and discuss we are doing it for the joy of learning.
Here’s to expressing ourselves and being a little bit more human.
(Gotta love Star Trek!)