Estimated reading time: 4 minutes, 15 seconds

Reflecting Allowed

Maha Bali’s blog about education

Doing Autoethnography on the Internet – thinking of Virtually Connecting


Estimated reading time: 4 minutes, 15 seconds

So as I said in a previous post, I’m writing a book chapter on doing Autoethnography online, and I thought within it, I would trace my own thinking about Autoethnography, but also do a mini-autoethnography about Virtually Connecting to sort of demonstrate things in practice. I thought Virtually Connecting specifically was a good example of something to do Autoethnography on because so much of its evolution is documented publicly and privately.

So here are some examples of sources that are public (and also situations where I recognize I need to rely on memory about private aspects):

  1. The initial exchanges between Rebecca and me about it were probably in a Facebook private message not email. I assume I could go all the way back to find it, but it’s hard. We also had lots of unrecorded Zoom conversations about it, during which my kid became close friends with Rebecca…and which is the reason she eventually showed up on the live YouTube (at the time she was 4, and she learned early on the difference between connecting via video off the air and on the air. She now asks if we are “live on YouTube” so she can decide if she’s in the mood to be on the air or not).
  2. There is documentation of our announcement on the et4online conference page, under the unconference. That’s probably findable somewhere. I was co-organizing the unconference with Jesse Stommel, responsible for the virtual side. There was a convo between Laura Pasquini, Jesse, Rebecca and I don’t remember who else, unrecorded, where we brainstormed this.
  3. There’s a blogpost cross-posted on my blog and Rebecca’s which explains what et4buddy (that’s what it was called at the time) is, and there were many private conversations between me and folks, inviting them to participate. Rebecca also had many offline conversations with people at the event about it… and there was loads of comments on the air by people at the conference (and on Twitter by many) where they praised this experiment
  4. There are many blogposts and tweets by people since then reacting to the experience (hashtag #et4buddy) , and some private conversations (prominently with Whitney Kilgore encouraging us to continue doing this, and Dave Cormier, challenging us to expand this beyond Maha/Rebecca, and with Kristen Eshelman who helped us make it happen at #dlrn15 which was one of our bigger events).
  5. There were two posts published relatively early on in the experience. One is on my then-column on Hybrid Pedagogy where both Rebecca’s and my perspectives are discussed. A second one on Chronicle of Higher Education where we had called it Virtually Connecting and were sharing the idea to encourage others to join in. There are actually quite a few more, now that I think of it, in different places, but these were the first two.
  6. There was a survey after et4buddy where we later published our first peer-reviewed article on Vconnecting, and so many conference presentations in different formats. Many of these are recorded, but a few are not. There were focus groups with folks which we used to present at #oer17…. there is another paper on hospitality in the works. In press.
  7. There are tons of Google docs and Slack conversations *some of the Slack convos are lost because we are using the free Slack*
  8. There are many blogposts by me… and I think if I looked at all of them I could trace the evolution of the way I expressed and understood Virtually Connecting. There’s also lots of situations where I solicited feedback from others via Twitter, which I used for example in my Challenging Academic gatekeeping keynote July 2018. And we republish most blogposts people write related to VCONNECTING onto our own website (with their permission of course).
  9. I would want to trace the growth of vconnecting from a two-woman show meeting a very specific personal to a larger and more complex organization that meets a variety of needs other than our own and is a form of advocacy for equity and challenging academic gatekeeping.

I’m almost at work now. I haven’t had time to put in the links to all these things (which I will need to do soon). Got distracted by checking out the tweets for #et4buddy, which included some lovely pics, a reminder of the gifts I had sent through to people during that event, and some lovely tweets about vconnecting birthday a year later. And some blogposts. And some early supporters. So cool. So nostalgic now.

I published, but came back to update. Added some links. Also some less published memories

  1. When my kid asked me “did you discover Virtually Connecting” (i.e. the moment my kid realized I was the co-founder of this thing, but didn’t have the vocabulary for it)
  2. My kid’s relationship with people she meets online then f2f, and when Autumm left us and told her “I’m going to miss you” and my kid said, “Why? I’ll see you on Virtually Connecting!”. Like many people, my kid thinks Vconnecting is web-based video conferencing in general, not the particular kind that happens at conferences.


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