Connect 4 – Lurker/Observer/Learner/Reader

A Screen to Hide From or Platform to Project From?

I try to be the same offline as online, in as much as I can. However, as has been addressed perhaps in thousands of comments, blogs, vlogs, articles and books – assuming a different online persona gives us confidence – although some would see this as a screen to hide behind; I see it in a more positive light – a platform to project from.

Lurker or… Observer/Learner/Reader

When I picture a lurker, I imagine a person skulking in dark corners, sneaking around to see what opportunities might arise for the least amount of effort. I think it is perfectly fine to be a lurker as long as we call it something else, like observer, learner or reader for; and with this name change comes a perception difference as well.

I have been an observer for quite some time, in most cases. Part of this process involves me learning from the various online communities available today. I do sometimes add to the conversation but only if I feel it is needed, or if I believe it can drive the conversation forwards. I am wary about contributing all the time, as through my observations from reading various blog posts comments, there are an awful lot of experts out there giving their opinion; regardless of whether or not they add to or diminish the discussion. Also, sometimes I find myself wanting to add what I perceive to be a constructive comment, only to have this last minute fear of thinking that my question has already been answered back in 2012, in a related post.

Call me what you like; I may be a bit lazy when contributing online but I always bring my online learning (#onlinearning) into the classroom, and for me that’s what is most important. However, after reading through the importance of contributing, and potentially help shaping the discussion of topics that our students need to succeed in school and beyond, I will make a real effort to become a conscientious contributor and connector.

Content With Your Connections?

I believe that the internet is both a sprawling mass of content and connections. The user is only beginning to understand how to connect the dots, but the collectors (e.g. Facebook, Google, AWS), are only too aware of how this works, and are doing so to meet their hunger for money and power.

To demonstrate my understanding of this question I will address two key areas that I believe would be most relevant to our students – Gaming and Social Media.

Gaming – I will use Fortnite as an example. It is a popular game with students at my school, a lot of whom are in Grades 6-8. Although they cannot play the game on the school network, there is plenty of evidence of their love for the game through overheard conversations, keyboard decals and desktop backgrounds. Now of course they are consumers in the first instance, through playing the (free to play) game; Epic made a profit in 2018 of $3 Billion. But they are also making connections as they do so, both offline and online. Offline through the conversations about which new skin they bought, or how they want to be a professional gamer and earn $500,000 a month. And online by creating a Youtube channel and uploading a Twitch stream, for others to watch and comment on.

Social Media. For me this is a little easier to explain how connections are made. Most of my students don’t use, or don’t want to admit to using, Facebook – but they would openly tell me that they use Instagram; it is lost on most that Instagram is owned by Facebook.

They read, share and comment  on posts, images, videos with their friends. Through their likes, they are acknowledging their connections, to these posts and in turn, perhaps unbeknownst to them, they are helping shape the public discourse and making millionaires of a few YouTubers, and other social media purveyors.

Dreamer or Visionary?

I am a lifelong learner, jumping between the roles of the dreamer; having great ideas, but not doing too much with them – and the visionary; having those same ideas, but actioning them. In fact, since starting my new role as Technology Integration Coordinator (TIC), I am pretty much in the visionary part of the venn diagram. My role as a TIC, has provided me with the space, autonomy and resources to integrate tech into learning – so that it is truly meaningful, relevant, interesting, fun and embedded to the students. I am so incredibly happy in my current job, that I said – rather cliched – to my boss that this is my dream job, because I am helping students dreams come true; to which he hysterically replied you are like a walking Ted Talk 🙂

  1. Sarah Frie, Mark Bergen, Mark Gurman, and Gerrit De Vynck, “Apple Punishes Google by Revoking Its Ability to Test Apps”, Bloomberg, 1st February 2019, accessed 5th February 2019,
  2. Jon Russell, “Epic Games, the Creator of Fortnite, Banked $3 Billion Profit in 2018” (blog), Techcrunch, 27th December 2018, accessed 5th February 2019,
  3. Tae Kim, “Tyler ‘Ninja’ Blevins Explains How He Makes More than $500,000 a Month Playing Video Game ‘Fortnite’”, CNBC, 19th March 2018, accessed 5th February 2019,


4 comments to “Connect 4 – Lurker/Observer/Learner/Reader”
4 comments to “Connect 4 – Lurker/Observer/Learner/Reader”
  1. Hey David,

    Thanks for the though provoking post. I really like the idea of reframing a screen to hide behind as a platform to project from! When else in history has it been so easy for for anyone with an internet connection to reach a global audience?

    As you point out, this global audience means that while we, and our students, may not be “connectors”, we are certainly connected, and someone is making money off those connections. I wonder how we can best help students to realize the power these connections have? With a better understanding of how digital connections can work, students can then start to use those connections for a purpose. Students understanding the power of the connections they are making through Fortnite or social media is the first step in them being able to take advantage of these types of connections to form their own PLNs and harness them for their passions and purposes in life.

    • Good evening from Shanghai, Mike!

      I do try to provoke a thought or two, even if it is just to get the conversation started 🙂 Technology has brought us closer together, at least in our ability to communicate with friends and family, when we are far from home.

      I do like the idea of making of connections through online games, as it is where a lot of our students are spending so much time. Do you remember that playing computer games was not cool to admit to, at least at the level at which our students discuss it today (sorry I don’t know how old you are). It was more appropriate, to be part of the school football/rubgy/volleyball team, or whatever sport was seen to have high social high status amongst students. Maybe we are at a crossroads with this concept, and who knows – in 5 years it will be the gamers who carry higher social status.

  2. Hi David! I love your idea for calling Lurker a different name because it does give it a different perception but there is that fine line. I feel like you have a much more established online persona so I’m rather surprised that you see yourself a bit lazy but hopefully we can cheer each other online (and in real life) to make us better contributors!

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