Part of the Doctoral process is to turn the person into a skeptical, grumpy AKA critically conscious aware human being. It’s also associated with walking in The Valley of S**t phase, where a student loses interest and confidence in the topic
In the last 2 years I have become acutely aware of my use of social media to the point that I wanted to completely disband social media tools. I had lost deep interest in my topic.
Originally I had thought that learning activities occurred on social media, but after data collection and initial analysis I entered into a phase (data informed!) of thinking that social media use is just a whole load of fakery, branding of ourselves as commodities in an increasingly commercialised educational environment, where we try and leverage the next gig/job via social media!
But after a thought provoking DRHA conference last week and a keynote given by Sue Beckingham on social media at DCU yesterday. My curiosity, confidence and engagement with my research topic (Twitter for professional learning) is back.
My research explores how higher educational professionals use Twitter for professional learning. My participants describe Twitter as useful to their learning, but they make use of Twitter in different ways; some ‘listen’ while others are more engaged as ‘contributors and collaborators’. While all participants ‘listen’ to the Twitterstream certain factors enabled or disabled these tweeters from contributing publicly on the Twittersphere. I refer to some of these factors as the 3 C’s: confidence, courage and caution. These factors indicate the feelings that tweeters of this study have about their professional voice on a public Internet tool such as Twitter.
Keeping ‘voice’ in mind, I am returning to the literature on ‘identity’ and I want to see if I can make sense of those who have a voice and contribute on Twitter, and how that compares to their professional identities. Some of the participants seem to have established/mature professional identities, whereas others have not yet found their voice, or perhaps found how they belong to professional communities, which could indicate that their professional identities are less mature.
At DRHA I loved Steve’s Dixons keynote referring to ‘cybernetic existentialism’. By using technology how we are prompted to think about ourselves, our place in the world, our place in the digital world? Colloquially it is said that ‘our tools create us’, so by finding a voice online on social media, can we begin to know ourselves in a better way, can we become better professionals?
Does social media enable expression, dialogue between professionals? Can this in turn enable reflection on the self, leading to enhanced professional voices and identities?
These questions are sparking my curiosity and I have fallen a little bit in love once again with my topic and the potential of technology 🙂