Sunday, April 30, 2017

Lurking or Learnking?

gerund or present participle: lurking
  1. (of a person or animal) be or remain hidden so as to wait in ambush for someone or something.

    "a ruthless killer still lurked in the darkness"

    synonyms:skulkloiter, lie in wait, lie low, hide, conceal oneself, take cover, keep out of sight
    "is someone lurking in the bushes?"
    • (of an unpleasant quality) be present in a latent or barely discernible state, although still presenting a threat.

      "fear lurks beneath the surface"
    • informal
      read the postings on an Internet message board or in a chat room without making any contribution oneself.

According to articles on the subject of lurking, there is a  1% rule of internet culture: Only 1% of the users of a website actively create new content, while the other 99% of the participants only lurk.

How is it that the creepy term of lurking - started around1990 in a chat room - continues to be used for picking up information on the internet? When you go shopping and don't buy anything, but you are interested in what's on sale or in fashion this season, you aren't "lurking" in the stores, but rather doing something fun like window shopping, browsing, or mall walking.  And if you go to a webinar or meeting and get information without asking a question, you are simply attending a webinar or meeting, not lurking. 

Using the word as a way to describe all people who are using the internet with low interactions seems unfairly negative.  There should be a difference made between people who are lurking in a creepy way (perhaps the types of chat rooms or message boards that are focused more on adult content) is different from people gathering information for educational or self-edification purposes. With the rise in the various ways we can educate ourselves and increase our everyday learning  on the internet, I propose that we use a term that differentiates this purpose: Learnking. 

Last week I dropped in to two short self-paced Canvas network MOOCs to pick up some information, completing one and not the other. I have taken several MOOCs and comleted them, but more often than not, I am dropping in with the intent of looking at the course design,  seeing how the tools are used, and in general checking out how the course is taught. As an educator with a passion for engagement, these things are first and foremost on my mind in any course I encounter. 

I  recently navigated to the Canvas Community space looking for an answer to a question I had, but - as often happens online - I ended up reading a bunch of other posts about other stuff people are asking about. And I ultimately learned even more than what I had come for. Almost every day, I spend a few minutes scrolling through my twitter feed and checking a couple of groups on Facebook for teachers. When there happens to be an alignment of time/brain/need I will actually contribute to those sites.  But  more often, I am just leaernking. Picking up information and seeing what's up in the minds of others.  (If you follow the right people, those minds can be astoundingly insightful and inspiring.) 

I think we need to add a new informal  term to the dictionary, that would look something like this 

gerund or present participle: learnking
Using the internet with the main purpose of collecting of information for future use, mainly pertaining to educational purposes 
A person who spends time learning on the internet without a focus on interacting with others 

Learnkers, Unite! It doesn't have to be creepy.  What do you think? 

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