There was lots of great food for thought this week in the readings, the theme being Lurker to Connector.  However, I would like to push the thought a step further and say that we should be moving from Lurkers to Connectors to Contributors and Creators.

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Kelsey O’Brien

Like many of us, when I first join any social media site I tend to spend a lot of time lurking, putting one foot into the pond, testing the waters, checking things out, getting a feel for the scene.  I have always admired those that just dive right in to any new thing without a caution, unfortunately this has never been me, but I have pushing myself to change over the last few years, especially as I have moved into Teaching and Learning and my current role of Director of IT and Innovation.  I now find myself pushing others to move themselves beyond lurking, and well, in order to do so, I have to first push myself.

In Jeff’s article What Does it Mean to Disconnect, he makes a powerful point with the statistic that only 1% of internet users are creators.  Lots of lurkers, and some contributors, but not many creators. He furthers this point when he speaks to the fact that many educators take things from the internet to create lessons, but about 10% put content on the internet for others to use.

Likewise in Living and Learning with New Media, the terms used are “Hanging Out” as opposed to Lurking, and “Messing Around” as opposed to connecting. They mean the same thing, but the point being that a majority of those on the web are doing either of these activities, as opposed to “Geeking Out” (Contributing and Creating). The above article studied youth culture, but again, the concept and terms transcend to adults as well. The bottom line being that we need more creators on the web.

When I reflect on my own practice over the past 15 years, I have taken a lot from the web, but have not contributed much until lately. Last year, I had the privilege of becoming a Google Certified Trainer.  One of the many things I enjoy about being a GCT is that I must contribute to the database of resources that exist for all of us to use.  It has forced me to move beyond being a lurker, connector, contributor, to being a creator. I have also recently written a few Blog posts for education Blogs and in the past couple of years have become very active on Twitter, contributing as much as possible.

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I recently gave a presentation with my partner entitled, Literacy Development in a Digital Age.  One of the important points that we made is that even at a young age it is highly important for children to not just be consuming content, but interacting and even creating. This presentation was aimed at parents of early years and lower elementary students, but our point can transcend all divisions and adults.  Too much screen time spent lurking is a bad thing, but taking the time to create is completely different. It promotes the 4Cs that Joel Bevans mentions in his article I am a lurker, but I am changing.

In Cofino’s post, First Steps Toward Becoming a 21st Century Educator, she lays a good foundation for becoming a 21st Century Educator.  I find her point about being the only one in a certain position at a school very poignant (consider I am the only Tech Director at my school). Having that connection with others is so important so you can share successes and failures, and seek advice.  Even more importantly, she points out that one must begin to contribute and create as well.

Two great corporate examples that come to mind are Google and 3M.  Google has had the concept of the 20% rule in place in which employees could spend 20% of their time working on personal projects or exploring ideas.  3M has always been known for promoting creation, ever since 3M sticky notes were invented. Did you know that in 2012 alone 3M had over 500 patents awarded, not that is creation.

I have recently read a couple of great articles promoting the idea of creating and why leaders must begin to create content on the web.  The first article, Why Great Leaders Should be Great Writers by Tonya Thomson, purports that we all have influence and should use it.  All of us involved in the COETAIL program are leaders, and as such, we have influence and should use it in a positive manner. To me this means putting ourselves out there on the web. The article also states that we should use writing to express our creativity, passion and communication skills. The second article is bit more “geeky” in nature, but it drives home the point perfectly.  In, Why you should contribute to open source software right now, Austin Tackaberry, speaks to the fact that developers should not be afraid to jump in and correct or improve open source code.  They just need to do it, learn while they do it, and not be afraid to make mistakes. The same goes for creating content, just dive right in and go for it.

8 thoughts on “Moving from Lurker to Connector to Contributor and Creator

  1. Really enjoyed reading your perspectives on the lurker to creator spectrum. I too had difficulty diving in. With Twitter for example, I started by creating a PLN for myself by lurking on posts that caught my interests. I then started following people with purpose…to learn, enrich, and find inspiration. Next, I started commenting on tweets. Nowadays, I try to put my ideas, experiences, and successes out there hopefully that it teaches, enriches, and inspires others.
    Miss you, my friend!


  2. Lori! Thanks for the read and reply. I think for so many of us, it is just starting small, and once we do that and slowly build that PLN and find things we are interested in, it leads us to start making posts about our own classroom and practice. No doubt your ideas, experiences, and successes inspire others!


  3. Ryan I like what you say about moving from connector to contributor and creator – these types of comments are what encourages me to redefine the original question! I think that making a contribution is straight forward enough, but requires some forethought about the potential impact, positive or negative that our input may have. I also think that your comments on being a creator, have a lot of weight behind them as well – particularly when you combine this with your GCT. With a true educational vision, we can pass on these positive messages to our students, friends, family and colleagues, to go out and make the move from consumer to connector/contributor/creator 🙂

    Regarding what Lori was saying about creating a PLN, also rings a bell with me. A few weeks back I created my first Wakelet pages (only three at the minute) collating resources that I borrow from to create my lessons. I have also been using Padlet for quite some time, to build up small PLN’s at school – even since their introduction of charging for the service. Furthermore, my colleague and Tech Director, has replaced Slack with Teams, to further strengthen our internal PLN. On top of that, I am part of a few WeChat tech innovation groups, which admittedly I do not make full use of; I put this down to my personal objection to its user interface.


  4. Hi David, I must admit, I am loving the Wakelet platform! So much so, that I am planning on using it with the lesson for this first course. It is a nice way to curate resources, and I see so many possibilities. Im curious to hear about your experiences with Slack and why you are making the move to Teams? I have some experience with Slack and quite liked it!


  5. Hi Ryan and David – I love that you are finding Wakelet and Padlet useful. I use them both for different purposes but find each platform extremely beneficial for student and teacher curation. Wakelet is always improving its platform and just added an awesome collaboration feature. I also use Slack, but only for work I do outside of school. It’s a very user-friendly platform and pairs well with Google apps. Since I am in China I use Teams with students and it works pretty good for the most part. If you ever have questions about any of them feel free to contact me about it.


    1. Hi Tanya, I really like Slack, I am using it with a Design Thinking group, outside of school. With my IT team, we are currently using Trello to manage our workflow. I introduced it this year and we are all getting used to checking it on a regular basis, but it has definitely helped us organize our work!


  6. Hi Ryan, There were a few things that really connected with me in this post. First of all, I loved your connection with lurking as hanging out.. I didn’t even make that connection at all, but it makes a lot of sense. I’m working towards being a Google Certified Educator this go round with COETAIL and I can already feel that it’s pushing me out of my comfort level. It’s that time of the school year where teachers are becoming tired and overwhelmed but I also know that in my position, I need to continually nudge… and in some cases…push. I completely agree about the importance for young children in interacting and coloring. When we first introduced iPads to our Kinder and Grade 1 students, I didn’t put any apps that were not creation or open ended interactive types of apps. Teachers didn’t understand at first but now I think they see the value in students creating digital pieces themselves rather than just using the iPads as digital worksheets or babysitters.


    1. Hi Boramy,
      There is a tendency to allow students to use ipads or screen time after they have completed their desk work. This often frames the tech as a reward rather than an integration, and they end up as digital babysitters. Nudging or pushing teachers to have their students create is a much better way to go. I am looking forward to hearing more about your work with teachers as our course progresses.


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