Care and Vulnerability #scholar14

I have been participating on Networked Scholars #scholar14 MOOC facilitated by George Veletsianos of Royal Roads University

Last week’s topic was about Care and Vulnerability in online spaces and how academics receive and give care to others and also express vulnerability in networked spaces

This reminded me of my own EdD study, where I am exploring Twitter for professional learning. I have just began to analyse some data in relation to use of Twitter by a group of Irish higher education professionals (this group is comprised of lecturers, academic support staff and learning technologists)

All of my research participants are Twitter users, some are Twitter lurkers using it for information retrieval others are involved in conversation and describe themselves as being networked through Twitter.

All see a value in Twitter for their professional learning but use the tool differently. The main reason the Twitter lurkers don’t post their own tweets is that they feel vulnerable giving an opinion online on Twitter, they feel that others out there know more than them about education, that their opinions would not add value.

Some have had bad experiences of criticism about their online contributions, where peers in the university disagreed with them and  they felt it was like a personal attack on them.

I really loved hearing Bonnie Stewart’s story of personal vulnerability, and how the expression of emotional trauma through a blog for herself and others was a healing experience, beneficial for the writer and the readers of the blog.

Perhaps when Bonnie subsequently came to academic blogging then she had a strong foundation, knowledge and skills of being ‘out there’ online, and she felt less vulnerable?

I tweet regularly, but I blog very sparsely, I have ideas for blogs but often don’t think they are good enough to write or publish! My feelings might be similar to those of some of my research participants.

There is a lot of discussion about digital literacy skills and encouraging these skills with students as well as staff in higher education.

This weeks topic helped me become more aware that it is important to have conversations about feelings of vulnerability online. There is huge benefit in being a fully online participant, but its more than developing a skillset…..its about a way of feeling and I think that is an internal thing to each person related to confidence and self-efficacy.


About Muireann O'Keeffe

I am an educational developer currently working at DCU. I have a passion for researching and evaluating technology that can support and enhance learning. In the past I have taught on Masters programmes (Msc Applied elearning & Postgraduate Diploma in Third level Learning and Teaching) as well as Leadership development programmes.
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