Reflecting Allowed

Maha Bali’s blog about education

A reason to go to #et4online 2015 – meet @BonStewart

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The Call for Proposals for #et4online has just opened up (open til Dec 1), and I’ve decided to write a series of posts on my reasons for wanting to go go #et4online 2015 this year (any offers to babysit my daughter welcome! haha).

My first reason is Bonnie Stewart. She’s one of the plenary speakers this year, and she’s also one of the most generous people in my PLN and someone I now consider a close friend. For this year’s conference, her plenary talk will be entitled Beyond Alt-metrics: Identities and Influence Online, during which she will “explore questions of what academic influence means in a world of social media and information abundance, and the challenges networked identities raise for higher education.” – I’m assuming she’ll be talking about her really interesting PhD research, and if you’re interested in some of the findings, you can find them on her blog here.

Bonnie is one of those people who is a critical, reflective academic, capable of writing really complex and philosophical pieces, but who can still write very accessible pieces, and who is really down-to-earth online in her interaction with people.

I first came across Bonnie’s work through her article on Hybrid Pedagogy, How NOT to Teach Online: A Story in Two Parts, in which she recounts her experiences in starting to teach online and her journey towards understanding how to do it in ways that emphasized learning. I loved the simplicity of her writing in that piece, stating what should be obvious to many educators venturing into online teaching, but often isn’t.

I then came across another article by Bonnie during #edcmooc, this one called Massiveness + Openness = New Literacies for Participation? in JOLT, in which she suggests “MOOCs may inadvertently create conditions for the development of new, participatory literacies” (in writing this blogpost, I want to go back and re-read that article! Esp now that I’ve tried a lot of cMOOCs).

Then I fell completely in love with Bonnie’s writing the day I found her blog; when I read her post explaining how her life as a cyborg (she uses “networked human” in this post, but I think she uses cyborg elsewhere) was difficult for non-networked people to understand. I’d only been on twitter a couple of months, had only just started blogging, but that post resonated with me so much. Possibly because I’d already been learning & teaching online for 10 years, possibly because I was already connected on facebook… I love this quote from her blogpost, which applies more to me (and many I know) now than when I first read her post:

“or many of us, [being a networked human] means doing what we love. it is a privilege, just a bit of an all-consuming one.

it tends to mean we work a lot. often on scattered and widely distributed projects, often using widely variant voices and skill sets in the run of a day. we do a lot of sharing of our work, because impression management and reputation-building are part of getting more work. we’d share your work too, quite generously, if you were putting any out there.”

The day I read that post, I tweeted to her, and she responded and it was an incredible moment for me. I was like, “Oh my God, I’m talking to Bonnie Stewart!” – and soon after that, I got to know her better through #rhizo14.

That part she says about sharing others’ work generously? She does that – I still remember the first time she shared one of my blogposts with her students. And how recently, she gave me permission to convert an email exchange between us about the State of Twitter into a post for EdConteXts. She took the time to rewrite the emails into a coherent post, in the midst of a lot of other priorities she had at the time (including a child’s birthday, I think!).

There are many personal reasons why I want to meet Bonnie, and she already knows them. But this post isn’t for her, one of my favorite connected educators. This post was to encourage you to go to #et4online and meet her in Dallas this coming April – where you also get to meet Mimi Ito (keynote speaker) and Gardner Campbell (also a plenary speaker), both of whom I’ll write about soon. Interested in going? Call for Proposals is right here.

4 Comments

  1. @Bali_Maha how sweet are you? very weird to read this about myself, but thank you.

  2. @bonstewart that was actually me holding back the gushing emotions and trying to not embarrass u too much 😉 but I imagine must feel weird

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