Lurking in Learning?

On social media, the idea of having ‘friends’ lingering around, reading and gossiping about your online behaviour  may be interpreted as not being appropriate. Even more without interacting back, without reacting by messaging back or simply liking your posts might seem awkard, non fitting for a person with the status of ‘friend’. 

Is lurking wrong?

As a rule of thumb, lurking behaviour would probably be considered negative. In an educational setting this behaviour is predominant not just online but in any setting; even more in a traditional class. Think about it; more than 20 students who are listening to their teacher, at the receiving end, apparent recipients of knowledge being dished out, taking notes, working out any activity asked by the teacher and specific students asking the occasional question. The majority of students in a traditional setting will simply sit down, passively and occasionally active; this will mostly be dependent on their teacher. Is such behaviour wrong? Is lurking wrong? in such setting this might be what the teacher wants, students attentive, hopefully receptive and reflective, without disrupting the flow of the lesson. So apparently lurking might not be wrong.

When online, such behaviour is evident in many educational settings; prevailing in traditional MOOC platforms. Such behaviour might not be ideal as it gives little opportunity for collaboration with others where the main interaction is with the content rather than with peers or educator. Such interaction with content should not be discarded with the perception that it minimises collaboration. The student can engage with material which gives insight to other’s thoughts, at one’s pace, possibly reflecting and assimilating with previous experiences.

Lurking might not be wrong in itself, dependant on the setting in which the student is asked to learn. Thus online course designers need to seek participation of each learner, where passivity may be minimised; thus enhancing the possibility of engaging with content, other participants and educators.


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