Lurking is Not a Static State

Jul 21, 2011
Commentary by Stephen Downes

Adding to some of the recent discussion on lurking in online learning, Sahana Chattopadhyay questions the "pejorative connotations" of lurking and points to Wenger, White and Smith's concept of "legitimate peripheral participation... a crucial process by which communities offer learning opportunities to those on the periphery." Valuable lurking behaviours include active lurking, where they "may take something from the community and pass it along to others using different channels," and network building through the creation of commonality. This points to the key role of lurking. "By virtue of being distant from the core of the activities, they may spread themselves thinly across multiple communities and are in the key position to know what is happening where." Good post, well researched.
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