Reflections on Topic 1. Connecting – online participation and digital literacies

I was born in the late eighties. This was a period in technology where many commands were given through MS-DOS and you needed dozens of floppy disks to install Windows OS. Children who were particularly interested in computers would learn programming languages such as QBasic. Growing up, I witnessed the advent and popularity of internet in South Asia and the transition from desktop to laptop, bulky mobile phones to smartphones, Modem to WIFI, and web-searching and programming to web 2.0 applications. I was a native and an immigrant at the same time as I was born in the times of technology but a very different one from today. I have done so many migrations, that the process of migrating or adapting to new technologies has become a second nature or say part of my digital native identity.

Aren’t we travellers anyways? This is the reason that the Visitor/Resident model of Web Engagement by White and Le Cornu (2011) really pulled my attention. I consider myself a native but I still have a learning curve before I become accustomed to new ways of learning and creating. I do participant in some online communities as a resident, maybe my Facebook. However, on a continuum in spaces of learning. I am more of a visitor with strategic objectives and plan for learning, to sometimes as a resident where I am on the platform almost all the time for example during my postgraduate degree on a blended format (White and Le Cornu, 2012). According to White and Le Cornu, 2012, sometimes visitors are better at learning because they know what to get out of the course and I can’t agree more. I have found many students for whom I have designed blended courses to follow the same digital visitor approach.

Another example of visitor identity can be my participation in ONL 162 course. I have particular strategies. When can I meet and when I can’t due to my work commitments? Where can I contribute more and how can I enhance my expertise in the area where I am not a novice? How to make the maximum use of the networking opportunities and exchange wonderful ideas among the participants? My identity also helps me in navigating the learning because I do not have to worry about the basics and make use of time for enhancing my knowledge and skills. I believe, PBL in this course is more interesting for me in this aspect as it is more close to reality and kind of virtual practical space for theoretical concepts. Such pedagogy also gives us a flavour of how communities of practice are formed and how they function (Kek and Huijser, 2015).

In this way, my identity of being an eLearning professional provides me with an anchor for self-concept both personally and professionally. As my identity is so integral to also informal online spaces where personal aspects play out, I use them very differently. For example, I will use Facebook for scouting learning opportunities as well. My scholarship for Masters degree was achieved through that space.

In a nutshell, we interact and connect with people based on the notion of belonging. The same applies to the online learning communities. We need a shared purpose and space to navigate our experiences. Our self-concept and knowledge about the digital literacies also come in handy, not for ourselves but also helping others to transit. We might be strategic or not, it is the immersive experience which helps us learn more.

References

Kek, M.Y.C. A. and Huijser, H. (2015). 21st century skills, problem based learning and the university of the future. In: Third 21st Century Academic Forum Conference: Facilitating, Fostering, and Harnessing Innovation to Meet Key Challenges of the 21st Century, 20-22 Sept 2015, Boston, USA.

White, D. and Le Cornu, A. (2011). Visitors and Residents: A new typology for online engagement.
First Monday, 16(9).

White, D. and Le Cornu, A. (2012). Digital Visitors and Residents: What Motivates Engagement with the Digital Information Environment? OCLC Research. Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZCBoLWynsl8

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