Cyber Hospitality: How do we reach you?

This article, “Paradigm Shifts in Global Higher Education and eLearning” , written by MAHA BALI, AUTUMM CAINES, REBECCA J. HOGUE, HELEN J. DEWAARD, CHRISTIAN FRIEDRICH,  explained the benefits of being intentionally equitable hospitality and how the challenges that they face could potentially disrupt their intended use. They explored their hospitality practices for VConnecting and the challenges they face when they struggle to present those practices in a a way that is equitable for all. The writers state that intentionally equitable hospitality requires a mixture of facilitating spaces, and reading digital histories, and being open and mindful of others’ differences.   They also emphasize on the principle that in order for it to be considered intentionally equitable hospitality, it must question its own values and how it works within power structures. 

I’ll be honest; I’ve never thought much about hospitality regarding the internet and how it affects users of the worldwide web up until the pandemic began. If you asked me, the internet is fair game: anyone can say anything and be anyone that they wanted to be. 

But now, with COVID-19 forcing people to become adjusted to being remote and relying on the internet to get their tasks done, I am seeing more and more that there are challenges that go beyond your typical troll. We face the issues of being fully engaged in important conversations, all the while staring at a screen that cannot not compare to human interaction. With that being said, students ( internet users in general) who struggled already with language barriers and communicating in school or group settings are at even more of a disadvantage when they cannot be guided in a space that is comfortable, nevertheless hospitable. Many exchange students, for example, come to school fearful that other students will not understand what they are saying, will make fun of their speech, or that they will not be understood. Those fears have the potential to be intensified if an exchange student in this respect were to not have access to a stable internet, or simply feels anxious in front of a camera.

Turning off the camera is fine. The question is, how can we tell that our intentionally hospitable practices are reaching students that we considered to be hard to reach” already? It’s the only question that sits on my mind because, in a way, I wonder that about myself in regards to online learning. How can you reach me?