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.
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