[Here we go. First blog post for this #DigPINS series of reflections.]

It’s been a while since I have actually blogged. My last active blog on LiveJournal had to have been back in 2005. That was my “personal” blog where I was most candid with my thoughts. I simultaneously had a “professional” blog on Xanga that I used in my high school teaching where I posted assignments and such because that’s the site where most of my students were already active.

But, during grad school — which led to a career change, that Xanga blog fell by the wayside as I had to adapt my digital teaching sites to Blackboard and Moodle in line with the practices of my respective institutions.

My personal blog faded out as I joined Facebook and Twitter and my online and IRL friends began to migrate over to those platforms as well.  So, LiveJournal didn’t offer the same connections as it had when I first started blogging. Now, blogging for this #DigPINS course feels oddly familiar.

I can confidently say that I feel very much a resident (and not a visitor) in the digital spaces that I frequent, and that goes for both the institutional and personal types of digital identities that I use. I didn’t recognize that was notable until it was pointed out in our Slack room dedicated to this kernel that I may have exhibited a more resident-tilted VR map than others did.

(Most people would be surprised to know that I graduated college in the 90s before home computers were able to connect to the Internet, so it’s not my age that makes me more likely to “buy in” to digital pedagogy and identity. Likewise, I’m not an early adopter/digital native/frequent mobile app user by any means. I still use a Blackberry that has a QWERTY keypad so. . . )

While I’m not entirely sure why that might be the case, I think part of it might be that I actually am more inclined to meet my “audiences” on the platforms where they feel most comfortable. So, my students in the early 2000s were using Xanga, and I went there. The people with whom I want to interact today are on Facebook and Twitter, and now I’m there.

What’s kept me around in these digital spaces is because they feel to me that I can maintain an authentic self there. The medium of micro-blogging and immediacy of the replies on such sites feel much more conversational and organic than the stuffy monologues that I’ve thrown out in blogs past (and present). The quick, pithy comments and the conversations those create match up well with how I teach and share ideas and how dynamically I appreciate conversations to flow.  I’ve said in the past, “I respond on social media & through the various genre expectations of that social media if the post exists on social media.” The generic expectations of Facebook and Twitter are more similar to how I connect with others IRL and so I’ve stuck around using these formats.

So, knowing how I ground my digital identity has made me see this week that medium matters. And, if I would like to be authentic in my digital pedagogy, I’m going to need to keep that in mind as I consider what platforms my current students feel authentically constructs them.

Will check in again next kernel.

TTY’allS

 

7 Thoughts to “Xanga to Twitter”

  1. Thanks for this post. I enjoyed learning about your journey through various platforms. I’ve known about blogs since 2003 and have supported faculty who wanted to use it in my faculty developer role, but I never started my own blog until 2013 after I finished my PhD.
    One thing that struck me here is that you call blogging a monologue, when my experience is that blogging can totally NOT be that. In a community of bloggers, sometimes one person will write a post that draws from ideas others had written and it would build upon them and make connections. Doesn’t feel monological to me. Your tone in this blogpost is conversational, although maybe that doesn’t make it not a monologue. A blogpost can be brief and to the point or longer…and I know you already know that… And if several people respond to each other, a blog becomes a potential conversation. I sometimes write blogs to initiate conversation and sometimes write just to express a thought. The conversation can happen on the comments to my blog or on Twitter or Facebook, depending on who wants to respond and how… But I still reach people who are on Facebook and Twitter through my blog – but I also know many who choose not to be on either of those platform but they can still find the blog.
    My teaching experience is that my students (though mainly new to blogging) enjoy the less formal writing style vs formal papers, and they’d rather not be forced into particular social media like Twitter (and maybe prefer I NOT go after them on Instagram!). They were a bit resistant to Slack at first but they liked it a lot near the end because they saw how it facilitated communication between us… This comment ended up longer than intended!
    I’m @bali_maha on Twitter and I’m at the American University in Cairo in Egypt (adding this for context)

    1. Reg Kim

      Hi Maha Bali. Nice to make your digital acquaintance (and sorry for the delayed response. I have not been getting notifications for comments and I’m not sure that’s fixed yet…)

      What I mean by monologue isn’t about tone but more that it’s harder for students to jump right in with response in a blog format (unlike Twitter or Snapchat). In my in class teaching (and out of class teaching), I rely heavily on dialogue and the “Socratic Method” and often my exchanges with students are filled with my replies being challenging or clarifying questions back to the student. So, that’s hard to do on a blog which is why I used the term “monologue.”

      And you’re right, I don’t want to be in those immediate response spaces with them (like Twitter or Snap or IG) if they do not want me there. Much of what I’ve been working with during this #DigPINS is trying to find that medium that would work well with my teaching and would be a “natural” tool for my students. So far, Slack has been pretty good but I’m still figuring that out.

    2. Hi Reg – something came to mind as I read your response here… About the possibilities of annotation? So I wrote an article a couple years ago and people still annotate it using hypothes.is (for various reasons) and that allows those ideas to have conversations on the margins that I can also jump into. I’ve also had people annotate blogposts of mine and tell me about it so we can have an asynchronous reflective conversation over time. I would never give up my in-class spontaneous conversations/dialogue with students for anything – but there’s also something I really value about asynchronous written dialogue – and there are people who excel at that who are more intimidated by in-class dialogue. Last semester, I had a couple of students who blogged REALLY deeply but spoke up less in class. A colleague who observed my in-class sessions but didn’t read the blogs didn’t “know” those students, but she noticed by end of semester that they were talking more. To me, it was an opportunity to know what they’d been thinking before coming into class. So even in spontaneous dialogue, I could say “as X said in their blog last week…” and I built on their ideas in the class… So even though they didn’t speak as much, their ideas were there…. Actually, thanks for helping me reflect on this. I hadn’t actually realized the full value of it until I wrote it now! I should blog this so I can find it again later 😉

    3. Reg Kim

      Oh, yeah. I’ve seen that in action and I’ve been challenged to think about how to use that in my classes. I really love how it’s used for this article:
      https://story.californiasunday.com/raising-a-teenage-daughter
      But, that’s not the same sort of asynchronous commenting that you and I are both thinking about.

      As for the in-class/out-of-class dynamic, what you’ve noted about where students choose to participate is precisely the reason why I’ve brought up this issue of platform. My digital discussions are primarily places where students who do not speak up in class throw out their ideas and get feedback from peers and myself. And I bring in relevant posts from the online work into the classroom in the same way that you have. But, I’m concerned with platform because in the past couple of years, the sort of dynamic interaction that we had on the discussion boards of our LMS have faded. I’m prone to think it’s because the app version is very klunky and students shy away from using it. So, I’m looking for other microblogging platforms to generate the energy that the discussions had before.

    4. I agre that forums seem clunky now. Probably because other tech ppl r u sed to has a better interface, better notifications, etc. I think Slack helps with that but have not used it for deep discussion yet. For students. Work well as semi-sync for my work w o ther adults.. Annotation sometimes works well too… Let me know if u find something u like and works this semester.

  2. Rachel

    Some great insights! I used to be a part of several online forums related to favorite actors or movies, which are now long gone or just not as vibrant as they once were. I’ve seen many of these conversations switch over to Facebook groups instead.

    I also love how you talked about the fact that you’ve gone where audiences felt more comfortable.

    1. Reg Kim

      I’ve grown up thinking about communication (my parents are family counselors) so it’s important for me to connect with people in the medium they feel most comfortable. It’s a personal move but also it very much drives my pedagogy.

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