Walking Stick Blogger

A Learning Space for Literacy and English Language Learners

Defining EduBlogging

Terry Anderson commented on the model describing edubloggers as autonomous and anonymous.

He wrote an excellent comment:

One concern with the model is the advance from Autonomous to Anonymous. I associate autonomous from its use as an ideal in distance education – self motivated and all that. Anonymous seems to be the opposite of net presence and I’m not sure I understand the use of the term in the model.

This is an interesting point. I do agree that privtae, autonomous and anonymous are confusing terms. In this case, private refers to a writer’s intention to remain safe from scrutiny. Autonomous is meant specifically to refer to one’s capacity to be not overly affected by others’ negative feedback, positive encouragement, or indifference. Autonomous bloggers will blog independently, in the absence of feedback, for one’s own intrinsic reasons. Anonymous edubloggers refer to the intention of posters’ identities to remain hidden – these writers would never write what they do, in the way they do, without this safeguard. I am approaching the terms in a psycho-social sense: what are the key motivators/intentions of the learners when they blog?

Whereas the private edublogger has a need to overcome the issue of one’s perceptions of an overpowering personal critic, the autonomous edublogger needs to address the issue of reaching out intentionally to address a larger audience, and not just write primarily for oneself, and aim to balance the expectations and wishes of others in one’s writing. Whereas the goal for private edubloggers is to learn to blog for oneself, the goal for autonomous edubloggers is to blog for significant others while engaged in synergistic, collaborative performances. The anonymous edublogger requires the limelight, seeks it, and the goal is to perform admirably in a number of settings in a diverse number of roles.

The private edublogger seeks self-definition. The autonomous edublogger seeks self-exploration, and the anonymous edublogger seeks self-expression.

The anonymous edublog draws loosely from dramaturgical theory, the idea that learners try on new roles as rehearsals for life. Habermas referred to the need for impressionistic learning, that we need to learn how to encounter others, and make a suitable impression on others. Just as metacognitive strategies are crucial for learners, so too are impressionistic strategies.

It is true that there is definitely a clear threshold between the private and autonomous edublogger; I have encountered learners who find the transition difficult. Such a threshold is more difficult to identify for those edubloggers who are confident with their voice in various communities. However, I look at how those autonomous edubloggers, successful in discussions of academic, formal content, might falter when required to perform tasks outside their comfort zone, pushed into conversations on challenging topics, requiring them to step into unfamiliar roles. I will discuss this issue at more length, but the best rationale for anonymous blogging is to give voice in anonymity to what you would never venture to say otherwise. Highly individual, creative, innovative, irreverent, satirical, edgy commentary is the content that edubloggers would participate in within anonymous edublogs. The trying on of various roles, the chance to vent, rave, say flippant things, all require a stage in which the actor can voice these ideas, and not be punished, or censured for them. An even more important factor is how to handle others whose ideas you find offensive or disagreeable – angry exchanges over dissenting views can lead to tremendous shifts in perspective. The anonymous blog has different rules, holds different possibilities for dialogue and conversation and creative expression, and can be quite therapeutic in nature. Is it a valid form of edublogging? Does it have a place in post-secondary education? Excellent questions. These edublogs will likely emerge and thrive as one part of flourishing learning communities because they offer potential edubloggers a way to participate as performers during collective performances.

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netizenship • July 7, 2009

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