Weak Ties

In considering personal information sharing, I am reminded of the strength in weak ties. Weak ties are those relationships you have with people not directly in your personal network. I think back to dance clubs in the 80s. We would often hang out in the lady’s room and talk to whomever happened in. Those were weak ties. Those relationships can be extremely important. Another way to think of weak ties is as boundary objects. These relationships are gateways to other worlds.

Weak ties are important because they open up opportunities for you to reach networks beyond your usual milieu. You, in turn, can act as a weak tie for someone else. Did you meet your husband through a friend of a friend of a friend? That is a weak tie at play.

In personal information sharing in the classroom, the instructor might act as a weak tie to other opportunities for a student. Instructors and students can definitely develop strong ties, but not always. Rather, the instructor opens doors for students. As each party in the relationship shares something about themselves, the other party can recognize what might be useful. For example, an art instructor shares that they are exhibiting in such-and-such gallery. The student attends the showing and in doing so finds information about a student exhibition in which they can participate.

Information sharing and use in higher education does not need to be merely curricular. When participants step outside of the usual discourse, there is room for personal growth.

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