Participation in our learning community – student, professional, me?

My natural instinct when first engaging in communities is to be quiet, careful and observe my environment: there could be danger anywhere.

Author: Shawn Carpenter; Source: License:

Danger by Shawn Carpenter; from:
CC BY-SA 2.0:

I believe I have done this since I was a small child.  Shy and self-conscious, I didn’t like to ask questions (I would have to talk to someone! And, it might make me look stupid), so I tried to find out how things worked on my own.  It probably took me a bit longer, and may have been frustrating for my parents and teachers who were probably thinking, “Just join in already!”; but it worked for me.  I still do this to some extent as an adult.  I am not as shy as I once was, but you would probably still call me reserved with new people.  As I become more familiar with the community, and start to know what I am doing, I might start to gain confidence and form a few relationships.  It just takes time.

As for my role in this community, I am here as a student, so I am here to learn, but I hope that I can share some of the learning I do, too.

Community of Inquiry Model; by Matbury (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons; Source:

Community of Inquiry Model; by Matbury (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons; Source:

I would like to model my participation in our learning community on Garrison’s concept of “teaching presence”, in which everyone in the community of inquiry is actively engaged in the learning process, and contributes based on their knowledge and ability.  Within our community, I would also like to demonstrate emerging information professional skills, but still be able to present myself in an honest, authentic way.  I would like to appear friendly and supportive.  I am a low risk-taker, and don’t like to look stupid, so I am bound to be careful with what I post, to ensure accuracy.

I also strive to avoid conflict in my life, so while I love Garrison’s idea of a community of inquiry allowing for assumptions and beliefs to be challenged, and perhaps transformed, I may not be doing any of the challenging; however, I will certainly be observing and learning from any discussions that may take place.

As a professional, I know a lot of ways that professionals could / should behave in communities.  Professionals should:

  • be respectful
  • be competent
  • be knowledgeable
  • be responsible
  • be accountable (this means they should do what they say they are going to do)
  • be organised
  • be punctual (yes, punctual – when I started work as a speech pathologist, (fledgling professional that I was), I was not good with time, and I had a 30 minute window of time in which I found it acceptable for me to be late to an appointment. Over time, this time frame has decreased, so that now I strive to be less than 15 minutes late to an appointment.  People who have a better concept of time than me may still see this as a failure, but I can live with this).
  • be able to work in a team, representing their profession.
  • reflect on their practice, and always seek to learn from experience
  • know their boundaries
  • know and respect the roles of other professionals
  • maintain currency in their profession
  • uphold the code of ethics of their profession
  • implement evidence-based interventions.

All of these professional behaviours are important to me in my role as a speech pathologist, and I do think that a lot of these skills are transferable across professions; but I am still learning the ropes of what it means to be an information professional.  I am definitely a novice when it comes to having an online professional identity, and building an online professional learning network, but I am here to learn and participate.

I think this post is representative of the characteristics I think I should display in the community this semester. I have tried to be honest and reflect on how I naturally behave in communities, discussed how I would like to participate in our learning community, and thought about how professionals should behave, reflecting on some of my areas of weakness in the process.

Twitter and me

As for how I feel about using Twitter this semester, I feel like I am coming around to it.  When I started the MIS (LIP) at the beginning of last year, I remember feeling strongly resistant to the strong encouragement we received to develop an online professional identity; and I remember thinking “Oh no! Not Twitter!”, “Not Facebook!”, “Not LinkedIn!” (I still don’t do Facebook and LinkedIn).

Twitter is not brand new to me, but I have never used it well.  My first foray into Twitter was 4 or 5 years ago when I was working in private practice as a speech pathologist, and I thought it would be good to be connected to a network of speechies to stay up-to-date with developments in the profession. I felt like it moved too fast for me to keep up.  I didn’t understand that you didn’t have to read every single tweet, so I thought I was failing at Twitter, and gave up. Then I started this course, and the teaching staff gave me a better understanding of Twitter.  I realised that you could “lurk”, and that often, good tweets aren’t tweeted just once, and that you could probably dip in and out as you wanted, and not miss too much. So, here was another opportunity to give Twitter a try.

My concerns around using Twitter are that I still don’t really know how to use it to its best advantage – I’m not a “pro-user”; and that I am naturally so long-winded in my written expression that I doubt I will ever be able to squeeze a complete, coherent thought into 140 characters.

I am beginning to see that Twitter could be useful for some functions; e.g. getting a quick question to, and response from, teaching staff. 😉  I can see that a lot of people post links to other content that could also be useful.  I can see its value in staying across happenings in the library twittersphere.

I don’t think I can think fast enough to keep up with a Twitter chat.  I need time to think about what was said, and then work out what to say in response, which can take a long time, as I tend to deliberate over every word.  I will definitely be checking out Kate’s Twitter chat tips.