The balance between private and professional lives

Professional communication, when you must represent both yourself and your teaching profession with the outside world requires, in my opinion, responsiveness, but above all it allows the boundaries between work and leisure to become blurred. The teaching profession is a public profession and hence there is a problem regarding the distinction between private life and professional life.

If I as a private person write something privately on Facebook for example and I am concerned if it is going to be read by the wrong person, I always think whether it is really so important to publish it and why. There is a risk that what you write online can be interpreted not as I wish it to be interpreted. A good rule in my opinion, either as an individual or in the role of a teacher, is that you should never write that you won´t say face to face. I think that it´s better to try to separate private and professional roles and use groups on Facebook and Linkedin to get in touch with people, who you do´nt have as friends in your private account.

White and Cornu (2011) illustrate the balance between private and professional lives when discussing Visitors and Residents. An individual might take a Resident approach in their private life but a Visitor approach in their role as a professional. Similarly it is not unusual for someone in a leadership role in a special interest group to manage that responsibility in a Resident style online while in a personal or professional context they choose to act as a Visitor. The authors believe that individuals are generally very good at managing their differing approaches across contexts and have much experience of similar shifts in attitude and motivation as they move between roles played out in physical spaces.

According to Savin-Baden and Wilkie (2006) there is relatively little research that has explored what it is that students do when they go online and what goes on in the minds of tutors and students engaged in PBL-online learning. The learning process may affect the dialogue in PBL-learning, for example seems asynchronous discussion to create a reflective learning space and the learner can respond in a way that is both a reply and a reflection. In asynchronous PBL-online learning students often speak of feelings of loss of control and a sense of danger, which relate more to presentation of identity than to control of knowledge. The authors believe that this could affect the quality of the dialog in the team and more meta-commenting compared with face-to-face PBL-learning. I think it´s important that teachers are up to date with research on social media´s impact on people and learning.

Kek and Huijser (2015) highlight a holistic approach to PBL-based learning with blurred boundaries between formal and informal learning environments, between work and study, public and private spaces etc. The authors suggest that students during their university studies should acquire a particular “way-of-being” that is of a longlife learner and suitable to 21 st century context of supercomplexity.

Sharples et al. (2014) describe the blurred boundaries:

When students bring their own smartphones and tablet computers into the classroom, this action changes their relationship with the school and with their teachers. They arrive equipped not only with individual technologies that they maintain and improve, but also with their own personal learning environments and social networks. This means that teachers become managers of technology-enabled networked learners, rather than providers of resources and knowledge (Sharples et al.,2014, p.4).

Kek, M.  & Huijser, H. (2015). 21st century skills: problem based learning and the University of the Future. Paper Third 21st Century Academic Forum Conference, Harvard, Boston, USA, at accessed 6 October 2016.

Savin-Baden, M. & Wilkie, K. (2006). The challenge of using problem-based learning online. In: Problem-based learning online, accessed 6 October 2016

Sharples, M., Adams, A., Ferguson, R., Gaved, M., McAndrew, P., Rienties, B., Weller, M., & Whitelock, D. (2014). Innovating pedagogy 2014: Exploring new forms of teaching, learning and assessment, to guide educators and policy makers (Open University Innovation Report 3).  accessed 6 October 2016

White, D. & Le Cornu, A. (2011) Visitors and residents: A new typology for online engagement. First Monday, 16(9), accessed 6 October 2016


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