In 2016, twice as many Americans obtained their news online instead of print. Approximately 3/4 of adult Americans interact with others through social media. Nine out of ten Americans are online, and a majority of these users are using time online to support personal or professional learning. I'm sure that I'm not the only person who finds it challenging to find a balance between personal and professional learning while online.
As time passes, an increasing percentage of the information and interaction that I seek in the name of learning is gathered online. The line between personal and professional learning is becoming blurred. I'm not sure if this is the result of time limitations, or professional ambitions putting the squeeze on personal interests. For example, I would like to start a podcast about pond fishing, but here I am writing about learning and education.
Reading Aaron Davis's recent post, "Templated Self", my perceived challenge of online time took a turn when he asks, "what do we mean by "real world" experiences, what do we mean by digital literacies?" I found myself wondering if my online presence is templated, and if so, how much control do I have in my online identity? In other words, are we manipulating our online spaces, or are they manipulating us?
It was Dave White's "Visitor / Resident" mapping exercise that prompted me to map and share my digital interactions. Initially, I used icons as hyperlinks to invite more engagement and interaction. Later, I realized the V/R mapping activity, which is an ongoing process, allows for deeper reflection of how I leverage online spaces. It's a visual interpretation of my digital self. Is this the same as a template?
At ISTE 2016, Dean Shareski challenged a group of us to consider digital dualism. Does online branding dehumanize us? Like others in my PLN, Dean suggests it's better to own rather than rent. Each person should have an online space to establish residency, contribute to communities, and create their templates. He encourages us to keep it real by retaining our humanity and authenticity in digital spaces.
Recently, Danah Boyd suggested that increases in online participation are shifting the ways in which we are manipulated by digital information. What are the motives of gaining attention and sharing information online? Are we becoming a generation of skilled manipulators?
The original intention of this post was to express a personal challenge of balancing time spent learning between personal and professional learning and balancing digital and analog resources. That ship seems to have sailed. The theme of this post then shifted to finding a balance of control over our online spaces. Are we living two lives? What is the appropriate mixture of online and offline? Where's the balance? The thought of misrepresenting myself with a digital template is a bit disconcerting. I've never personally met many of the folks in my personal learning network, but I believe that when we do finally meet face-to-face, it will feel somewhat like a reunion of old friends.
photo credit: Pixabay CC0 - Public Domain; Ralf Kunze