Beyond These Walls

Learning everywhere

Category Archives: Connected

Digital Identities: Where does your digital self begin and end?

Tonight I watched Bonnie Stewart’s #etmooc session on Digital Identities; it was her last slide that got me.


When I came to #etmooc (as it does feel like a place for me), it was a stepping away, to create a new space for me, the personal me. Not the professional me, not the #flipclass teacher me, around which I have created most of my digital identity. This space here, very intentionally, very purposefully, was made away from my already established professional blog space. At first and still, this space here felt lonely in comparison to my blog where I feel very connected, highly visible, and incredibly supported.  Yet at the same time I felt strangely hemmed in.

This space here had none of that hyper-connectedness and so for me #etmooc has been a bit of a solo journey. You might think it sad, as for many #etmooc was about connecting and it’s not that I didn’t connect, I did. But at its core, #etmooc has been about connecting to myself as a serious, dedicated and focused learner, again, after many years away; falling deliciously, delightfully, head first in love with learning, for the sake of it. No other reason.

Pure process.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I didn’t produce, connect or interact, but these were not the aspects of #etmooc experience that resonated deeply for me (I think this post: Is developing voice a prerequisite for connected learning? explores this tension a bit).

I can’t adequately express in mere words, how immensely and deeply satisfying a journey it was and is and will continue to be; how it pushed out and filled up a space of me that had sat empty. This may sound confusing, I am a teacher, I am learning all the time, reading all the time, thinking, reflecting and sharing. All true. But everything in that arena, is and was purposeful, mandated and on someone else timetable and to suit someone else needs.

This was my learning. No purpose, no beginning, no end, no have to’s, no pressure, no goals….just me. Strange, how when all constraints, definitions, and lines are removed, that out of nothing emerges my interests as bright soft spaces that I can easily push through. No need to question the purpose, the goals. You just know… this way next.




I think at the deepest level, if I keep drilling down, the process provoked a more authentic self to emerge in my digital identity. Less afraid to be undefined and more confident to define for myself, minute to minute who I wanted to be, rather than whom I had created. The process has fused the many disparate identities of me, that don’t seem so disparate anymore. Before I thought that keeping them all separate would be easier. Somewhere about half way through #etmooc, the lines of my digital self, that I had worked hard to create, in the first place, began to blur. I didn’t erase them purposely; they just seemed to fade on their own.

Maybe now I feel empowered as a learner and all other identities are easy off shots of that self? Maybe now I don’t see this digital world as much as a game to be played? Maybe I see that I don’t have to be defined as carefully out here as I thought? Perhaps I can be a person who is layered on top of layer of identities and still have a cohesive identity? Or it is that #etmooc evoked for me memories of my first learning forays in my backyard where everything was interconnected, separate contexts and constructs not needed?

Maybe what I am trying to say is I found a powerful lens to see many facets of me all at once.

“There is no real ending. It’s just the place where you stop the story.”
Frank Herbert

Is developing voice a prerequisite for connected learning?

Every time you take the risk to be true to your own soul – whether or not you name your action as heroic – your example helps others to do likewise. When you notice this pattern, it becomes easier to have absolute fidelity to your own path without fear that doing so is selfish. We can do nothing better for others than model the authentic life.

                                                                                                         ~ Carol Pearson

I have been struggling with locating MY voice. I thought I “had it” awhile back, but I was out riding an #etmooc wave that threw me up on shore sanded, seaweeded and discombobulated. I pick off the bits ingrained in fabric and particles between toes. I was cautious to ride again.

What made me fall? Did my voice drown, gasping in the discordant cacophony of others? Did doubt make me unstable losing balance all at once.? Did I become too attentive of the other riders?

As I paddle out again, I hear voices louder than my own; stronger, clearer, purer, surer. Not mine. It pains me to hear my voice yet have it tangle on its way up and out, mixed up and mixed in, still. Seaweed and sand. Discordantly it does not seem to matter that I have clarity of voice within but rather it seems essential to get it out in one intact piece.

To connect, my voice is my primary tool, whether in 140 characters, a blog post or meeting face to face for the first time at a conference. Is my voice the way you draw a connected line to me? Is it one of the fundamental ways that we connect as people and therefore a primary building block for connected learning?

Do students have an opportunity to safely explore their own voice? Do they get to explore voices from different points of view, social, global, entrepreneurial, political ?

Is voice the nutrient broth for connectivity and does an authentic voice allow for more meaningful connections which in turn amplifies the connection?

Is care  fundamental to voice development in providing an environment where you feel heard and feel your voice has value?

Do we give our students voice? I think at school students have very little voice. Why is that? How can we change that?

“All I have is a voice.”
― W.H. Auden

%d bloggers like this: