Three Lenses on Lurking: Making Sense of Digital Silence

Kuhn, Caroline; Havemann, Leo; Koseoglu, Suzan and Bozkurt, Aras (2021). Three Lenses on Lurking: Making Sense of Digital Silence. In: Hoffman, Jaime and Blessinger, Patrick eds. International Perspectives in Online Instruction. Innovations in Higher Education Teaching and Learning. Bingley: Emerald, pp. 83–93.




In this chapter, the authors provide a critical exploration of the concept of lurking in online learning spaces through a phenomenological inquiry. The authors begin from a position that lurking is often misunderstood – or perhaps not understood – in education, and that the term itself is quite problematic, as it is typically applied to a disparate range of behaviors by those who perceive them as problematic. The authors then propose three heuristic lenses to make sense of lurking behaviors: lurking as troublesome, lurking as ordinary, and lurking as political. These lenses demonstrate that lurking behaviors not only stem from a range of different motivations but are also situated in a variety of contexts, that is, lurking is personal and contextual. The authors’ aim is not to define or redefine lurking for readers but to provide a critical analysis of what digital silence might mean for their students based on their contextual experience and in the light of critical literature. The authors invite readers to be part of the reflexive analysis by considering what lurking might mean in their own teaching contexts.

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