I have always found it interesting the number of introverts who gravitate to teaching and are extremely outgoing and engaging in their learning environments (myself included).
As for social networking I'm not sure if it is the level of anonymity that allows me to get over that initial discomfort of meeting new people, but once I do get to know people through social networking, they very quickly become just as real and personal as if I knew them in real life. I have never face to face with any of my fellow facilitators in this seminar yet we work together well. I think this is a phenomenon that will become more prevalent as our learning, teaching, and work patterns change and we all become more engaged in virtual and online learning environments...
what you say is SO true!
I am - or used to be - one of those introverts.
Most of my high school and University teachers might not even remember me. I was that students that sits quietly and listens to, digesting the information for myself. I wasn't the brave one. I liked to have time to think and then once you knew the time was up and I had no time to put my ideas across. Also maybe because Ia m a little bit shyer in face to face situations.
The online world has made me a better person I think. I am now able to give more of myself. I trust myself more as here (online) I am put on the constant test. The only way to prove that I am interested in these topics and that I have an opinion about it them is to share my opinions with you all.
Since most of the interactions online are asynchronous it gives me time to consider and ponder about what I want to say - it doesn't mean I will always come up with something smart! - but It means I have been able to develop ways to trust me enough to interact . It has has its reflections on my face to face behavior as well, as the online interactions have been really good practices.
The other thing that you also mentioned and that I totally agree with is the fact that I consider my virtual friends to be true friends. In many cases the interactions and interaction online become even stronger than many of the acquaintances I make only face to face. And I also think that is because online people trust themselves more to give more of themselves, and also because online people have more time to reflect about what they say and thus show the better side of them more often.
Christina, I know what you mean about needing time to process discussion topics and then reply. I think this phenomena is something different from the lurker phenomena (lurkers being another group of nameless, faceless students in a class), and I am now starting to wonder if there has been any research in this area. I find myself drawn to research in areas where I have a direct connection to the topic.
Tell me, as you mentioned you consider your virtual friends to be true friends, do you find yourself communicating with them outside of the initial point of contact? In other words, I do speak with a few SCoPE people outside SCoPE, but not too often in Facebook or Twitter. Vice-versa as well.
Ian, you make a valuable point. As anyone who has taken the Myers Briggs knows, some of us are introverts and some are extroverts. And some approach tasks with a "just do it" attitude while others say, "let me sleep on it." Online dialogue has the flexibility to work for either style.
To take it a step further, while online text-based dialogue lacks the visual cues, at the same time we take race, age, gender, attractiveness, accents etc. out of the equation. When we dialogue online we do not know who is participating via an assistive technology device, and who is sitting in a wheelchair. Whether we are aware of these characteristics or not, online we truly judge each other by the content of our characters, as demonstrated by the respect we show for all contributions of thoughts and ideas. Going back to earlier posts about trust and collaboration: the important thing is whether I can trust you to be honest with me, fair, and reliable.
Janet, that is a really good point you are making about assessing people based on what they say rather than on other factors.
Of course, with our networked world, when I see people participating online in discussions (such as we are doing here), I do find myself looking into their biographical information if I want to learn more. I look for whatever they say about themselves, and then Google them. If I cannot find much, I then get suspicious. If I do find things, then the initial anonymity will gradually disappear.
I recall having a conversation around the issue of online identity (and thus authenticity) -- if you do not have and own your online identity (from your website, jobs, education, blog, postings, etc.), then somebody else will eventually own it for you. This was not referring to identity theft, but rather somebody who has more of an online presence will get indexed faster if they state something critical about somebody than the person criticized if that person does not have enough of an identity to get noticed.
It seems this may have an effect with online education.
This I think has implications or me as an educator as I move away from my traditional classroom roles to more of a blended and online universe - I will have learners who could potentially do most or all of a diploma programme (I'm an academic chair at Nova Scotia Community College in Halifax) online and all I will "know" about them is what they will write. Thing is in my mind at least, based on all of the time I spend online in places like SCoPE, Second Life, and other forums and lists is that is OK for me - as I said - in many ways find it easier to communicate online than face to face. Thing is I have to get faculty to that point - why I think this seminar is so important and timely as we move into a new paradigm of delivery - the future of education for me is blended and online - an environment that is collaborative, engaging, mobile, and open and meets learners literally where they are...