Toward digital praxis: just thinking out loud


First of all this is just open thinking – I am looking for feedback.

I started thinking in this direction when I started working with Donna Lanclos back in 2014. We co-authored a blog post where Donna wrote:

In a post-digital academy, where presence may be seen as having value, understanding how an online persona is perceived is important, especially if one considers that opinions and judgements will be formed often with no direct interaction with the owner of the presence.

The context for this discussion around digital presence in academia was the use of Johari window for understanding how academics might perceive their digital presence, and how others would perceive it.

Johari Window (Luft and Ingham, 1955) is a heuristic exercise developed by psychologists to help people better understand their relationship with themselves and others. To use the tool a person selects from a list words that they would use to describe themselves. Other people also select words to describe the original person.

The words that match appear in the Open Area or Arena. Words that other people select that the originator did not, appear in the blindspot, and words that the originator selected but others did not appear in the Hidden Area or Façade.

A discussion can then be had around those words and what they might mean in the context the tool was used.

Digital Praxis

There is a lot of discussion around digital practices, but much of this is based on what is it that academics (or students) do with tools, or on platforms. Here I want to think about what they do with any cognitive/theoretical framework (if they have one for their practice) and their motivations for engaging with digital. In a very brief discussion with Andrew Preater, he also started me thinking about his drawing of the definition of Praxis from Freire; “reflection and action on the structures to be transformed.” This is possibly at the heart of where my thinking is going. I want to engage people with their practice, encourage reflection and action on both their existing practices, and the digital structures and background against which their digital self (Identity?) is perceived by themselves and by those with which they engage.

Is this Digital Praxis? I am looking for input.

The relationship between Johari and Digital Praxis

As a tool, I am thinking that the framework of the johari window might be a starting point for critical digital praxis. How you perceive your practice, and how you are perceived by others is the point at which understanding and reflection of your motivations for being in digital places and using digital as a tool can begin. That beginning of understanding may also be the commencement of transformation.

The original Johari window tool allows the use of 56 adjectives, from which someone selects 6 – 8.

The 56 Adjectives used by Johari
The 56 Adjectives used in the Johari window

In the application of the tool to digital praxis, thought needs to be given beyond these simple terms.

Replacing the 56 adjectives, I thought more in terms of behaviours or actions that would be selected from a list (thanks to Marcus Elliott for input), for example:

  • (Edit – Dan Perry made a good point to me elsewhere that there is a need to explore without implying that there is one ‘right’ answer, or encouraging box ticking behaviour rather than something deeper. – so in the alpha version of this it will be made clear that none of these are “right answers” they are just perceptions of yourself, and how others might perceive you. )
  • Accessible / responsive to others
  • Authentic on social media
  • Broadcasts
  • Engages and participates on social media
  • Collaborates in an open way
  • Professional in social media
  • Blogs regularly
  • Blogs Prolifically
  • Engages in professional spaces
  • Is an advocate or ally for others in online spaces
  • [Something about understanding power dynamics in online spaces]
  • Uses open-licences to share work
  • Amplifies other people’s work
  • Suspicious (a better word?) of social media tools.
  • Comments online on other people’s work (positive feedback)
  • Identifies and mitigates biases
  • Doesn’t see the value of social media in an organisational setting?
  • Constructs separate personal and professional identities
  • Is able to convey emotion, such as memes, in an appropriate way
  • Uses hashtags to connect to wider conversations
  • Something about perceptions of edtech? Need 2 or 3 statements
  • Something about perceptions of Technology? Need 2 or 3 statements
  • Creates content in a variety of formats suitable for potential users

Again. This is something where I would like input and suggestions for.

This is very early thinking, and more an exploration of an idea. As a tool, it should be emphasised that it is aimed at being reflective, not diagnostic. Should it become real, there will need to be testing, and guidance on use, ethics and supporting people who go through the process will also be a priority.


Luft, J.; Ingham, H. (1955). “The Johari window, a graphic model of interpersonal awareness”. Proceedings of the western training laboratory in group development. Los Angeles: University of California, Los Angeles.


  1. Lawrie when you think about reflection on action and evelopment of reflective practices you can’t do much better than Schon and Brookfield. Schon is about reflection on and in action and Brookfield is about providing a critical review model for examining reflective practices. Happy to converse through other channels if needs be. Slack or twitter or email.

  2. just read this through, language may be problematic,needs to be simple and clear, some technical terms (blogs,broadcasts) and judgements (regularly/prolifically) could be exclusive, use of adjectives in original is much clearer. Tricky!

  3. I really like this model Lawrie. Let me know if you need folks to test. I’d love to do this to evaluate my own digital identity and to learn how to facilitate it with groups. I could see something like this being of real value as we take on a Domains project at my institution as we need to get folks to evaluate digital identity on a larger scale.

    Like Teresa, it did occur to me that the move from adjectives to behaviors seems problematic. I wonder if there is some leveling that needs to happen here? Would this be the kind of activity that would be useful for anyone or would it be more useful for those with more established digital identities to begin with?

    Great stuff as always!

    1. Thank Autumm, yes when we started thinking about this it was back in 2014, and we were looking at something that was more focused on people who understood the issues around being online, but also wanted to do something that would be more reflective and proactive post using VandR. Now that we don’t use VandR on our leaders course I am trying to find a way of getting people to reflect around their identity as a precursor to change, in whatever direction they feel they want to. I am thinking that i need to keep the judgemental elements in, although I agree the language could be better, because people are judged all the time online.

      1. I like the focus on behaviors and the judgement calls are fine with me but it seems that context is important then. Do the participants have some idea of how to judge those things – if they have established identities themselves then I think they do but the novice might be lost. If you are doing this with leadership perhaps this is not a concern. It also seems like there is an element of trust or respect or something that is needed here. I wouldn’t want someone that I didn’t trust to evaluate me in this way – or maybe I wouldn’t care about their evaluation if I didn’t respect them. I’m curious how you account for that. Is that assumed in this setting? I could see that considering everyone is a leader of some sort… IDK… thinking out loud.

  4. Ooh, interesting. Thanks for openly sharing your thoughts! I also think the language ought to be simpler, more like the original list. But the domain could be clearly articulated as digital praxis with a specific definition. I feel then it would feel relevant but also inclusive

  5. Also, a random idea which may be a divergence. Ask self/others to list examples of “action on the structures to be transformed” (e.g.), then code it and frame in the window. Then have someone else do likewise. Because action is subjective and blind spots/facades exist there!

  6. Hi Lawrie
    Thanks for sharing your work and throughts and great to see this evolving. I like the idea that this could encourage reflection and also discussion with peers about their digital practices. I would be interested in how broad you anticipate making the practices as at the moment they seem to be more focused on social media and it would be great to see how the digital capability framework could support this in terms of widening the practices.
    Look forward to seeing this develop!

    1. the tool can only work in the spaces that you know about your self and that others can see you. Hence this is a tool focused heavily on identity, and that is mostly in “social spaces” or professional spaces that operate with social characteristics.
      A second tool might be developed from this as a way of developing “online teaching reflections”. The work is in the framing of the text.

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