By Karl Fisch

We’ve had some interesting discussions in the ADVIS Cohort around the idea of “lurking” (reading, but not contributing) in online communities. There have been lots of thoughtful responses and discussions, but I thought this comment by Karen Johnson from Trevor Day School was a great way to look at it:

I’d suggest the term “active observer.” I see “lurking” as a great place to start, a vantage point, an active stance for those of us who need to watch and absorb for a while before jumping in.

May I conjugate/contemplate the verb “to ning” from my vantage point, that of – well, OK – a lurker…

Present tense
I ning, you ning, – to check out the forums, to read the many thoughtful replies, to wonder mightily how to wrap my head around these seemingly very abstract concepts, especially since I teach 8-9 year olds

Present Progressive
I am ninging, you are ninging – to put one’s toe in the water and respond to a few posts

Past tense
I ninged (alternately: nang), you ninged/you nang
To have initiated some posts and started some threads

Past perfect
I have ninged (alternately: I nung, you have ninged/you nung) – to be a full and ongoing participant in the online forums

Not meaning to be facetious here, it is certainly my intention to be an active participant in my initial year as a PLP member (to have ninged regularly this year). I find it as stretch, but an interesting challenge, to see how this all applies to younger children since they do not spend much time online, and when they do, it is in a very controlled situation.

I love the way that Karen has framed this, and I particularly love this wording:

I find it a stretch, but an interesting challenge . . .

That’s so much of what PLP is all about. Stretching ourselves as educators. Challenging ourselves – and each other – to make sure we are doing our best to help our students.

No, we don’t always agree (shocking for educators!), and that’s okay. But what we all do agree on is the need to continually examine our practices, to “stretch” and “challenge ourselves,” to “lurk” or “actively observe” or be any of the particular tenses of the verb “to Ning,” all in the service of re-envisioning both our own learning practices, and the learning practices that go on in our classrooms.

So, what tense are you?

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Karl Fisch

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