Teachers’ Online Personas (Discussion from My Dissertation Defense)

Today was my dissertation defense, and I am happy to say that I passed with no major revisions. Hooray! There are still some minor things that I need to touch up, but that is to be expected. So, my hope is that I will have this all wrapped up and turned in to the grad school in the next two weeks.

(Sigh of relief) 🙂

Now, on to the more interesting aspects of my defense. What I found very compelling was the discussion that ensued with the audience and my committee once I got done talking. I would say that the topic of the half-hour discussion centered very closely around issues of teachers’ online personas, expectations that schools/colleagues/administrators have of those teachers to develop online personas, and the power relationships embedded in those identities.

We talked about issues of read/write web technology, access to student work vs. privacy concerns, infrastructure and access in schools, the role of technology in one’s day-to-day teaching, and a number of other issues that make it difficult, if not impossible, for some teachers to develop or maintain an online persona.This was a far-ranging discussion, with implications for K-12 teachers hoping to help students develop digital writing and think about how to distribute it, both technically and ethically, as well as teacher educators thinking about how best to inform their own teaching practices.

We also talked about the ways in which newer technologies could/should allow teachers to become more political about the infrastructure and access issues that they face in their schools. For instance, is it a good idea for a teacher to blog about how bad the technology is in her school? Who is the intended audience for a blog like this and what would its purpose be?So, there are many ideas that came from this discussion, and I thank my writing group colleague, Jim, for capturing many of them in his notes. I think that all of these issues are ones that I can pursue in future work — some of which will be happening tomorrow, when I finish up interviews for the podcasting project.

And, more importantly, I am almost done! Thanks to all my friends, family, and colleagues who attended today, both in person and in spirit. I appreciate your support.

5 thoughts on “Teachers’ Online Personas (Discussion from My Dissertation Defense)”

  1. You did a fantastic job! And I agree..a great discussion ensued after your presentation. As someone mentioned, you planted the seeds for volumes of research to pursue over the next 10 years!!!! 🙂 Congratulations.

  2. Thanks, Leigh!

    I appreciate you being there and I hope that I can get the next ten years out of this — that would be great (although I think that the technology will continue to change too quickly!).

    Thanks again for being there.


  3. You framed the issue so well, that it does not matter if the technology changes! That is such a tricky thing to do when studying ed tech…most people get caught up in the technology itself (dreamweaver, googlepages, you name it) rather than the process, which you so eloquently focussed on! Keep that up and your work is timeless! 🙂

  4. Thanks again, Leigh.

    Yes, I agree, we get caught up in the tool and not the literacy process. I am glad that this idea came through clearly in my presentation.

    I am looking forward to hearing more about your work here in the near future. Please let me know how it is going.

    Take care,

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