Anonymity as Freedom: Possibilities from On-line Interactive Whiteboards

Research output: Contribution to conferenceConference Paperpeer-review


With the move to on-line learning over the Covid-19 pandemic, teachers embraced many new ways of working, as pedagogy morphed to address the changing contexts. Many on-line platforms offer breakout rooms, to approximate small group discussion, yet it transpired that engagement between students could be painfully difficult to facilitate. Moreover, connectivity issues could make video-participation impossible and even audio-participation could be patchy. All-too-often students resorted to written exchanges in the ‘chat’, or opted out altogether. In grappling for alternatives and exploring options, the interactive whiteboard came into it’s own. This different space for engaged, dynamic, probing interaction emerged as a solution. Crucially - unlike chat where names are visible to all - this function is entirely anonymized. Students could safely offer answers to questions, raise tentative points, ask all-manner of questions and air concerns and difficulties. A small survey revealed that with this format, fear of being labelled as stupid, or as possessing a minority view, or simply of social anxiety - these all melted into air. A silent environment had never been so dynamic and previously silenced voices began to participate. Something wonderful, akin to genuine academic freedom (Macfarlane, 2016) and situated close to critical pedagogy (Freire, 1996) was afoot. In silence and anonymity there was dialogue, expression and inclusion. Sustaining this unexpected win from pandemic pedagogy, as learning returns to blended or in-person formats, seems vital.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 29 Apr 2021
EventCurriculum Studies Summer Collaborative (CSSC): Promoting Dialogue and Cooperative Action - Georgia Southern University, Statesboro, United States
Duration: 10 Jun 202111 Jun 2021


ConferenceCurriculum Studies Summer Collaborative (CSSC)
Country/TerritoryUnited States
Internet address


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