Recentering open for those at the margins: three lenses on lurking

Kuhn, Caroline; Havemann, Leo; Kozeoglu, Suzan; Bozkurt, Aras and Watling, Sue (2019). Recentering open for those at the margins: three lenses on lurking. In: OER19: Recentering Open, 10-11 Apr 2019, Galway, Ireland.



Session Description:
The group presenting this session was formed through a serendipitous participation in a ‘slow chat’ (#HEdigID) on the topic of OEP. The chat went on long beyond its official end, and we realized that the #HEdigID network was larger than we had observed. It included ‘invisible’ participants who were simply listening, or tuning in once in a while. We began to discuss the practice of ‘lurking’ and the idea of ‘the lurker’. The group conversation which followed revealed some of the complexities of lurking behaviours.
What (or who) is a “lurker”? Do we need to rethink what participation means? Why some learners are visible, and others less visible or maybe invisible, remaining on the margins of online and networked learning? Do we need to recenter participation in open spaces – to bring in those who appear to choose to stay on the periphery? It seems there is a need to turn a critical lens onto our assumptions, and think about how ‘privileging the visible’ may constrain and exclude more invisible learners equally interested in learning (Honeychurch et al., 2017; Popovac, M., & Fullwood, C., 2018).
Against a prior emphasis on transmission of knowledge, designing for learning in today’s open environments is often ‘designing for participation’. Has the pendulum now swung too far in this direction, such that those who are said to ‘lurk’ are dismissed, derided, or at best, understood through a deficit model?
Our proposed lenses on lurking as troublesome, political and ordinary, suggest alternative ways of understanding lurking behaviours, but do not provide an obvious answer to the question of how to engage the lurking learner – or whether the lurker must be engaged. What does learner agency look like in this context? Can we truly design for all? Or should we design for participation – and let lurkers lurk?
We are seeking input from participants in online learning spaces – current students or teachers or people who have other roles or with an interest in learning in open environments. Through the discussion/activity, further insights into both the ‘lurker experience’ and inclusive learning design will emerge

Session content:
Drawing on previous experiences in exploring questions of digital identity and engagement (Author, 2017; Author, 2018), we are proposing a WORKSHOP COMBINED WITH AN OPEN SPACE in order to engage the audience early on so we can gather a different range of answers to our questions.
Two interactive walls will be designed, one analogue and another digital. The analogue to be placed in an open space (from day 1) to foster discussion amongst people prior to the workshop, and the digital wall on Padlet to allow remote participation.
Pre-workshop feedback from the walls will be combined with further input from participants, followed by the discussion of our proposed lenses, in order to see whether our three lenses are sufficient or whether further lenses emerge from the activity.

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