Our last #eci831 class featured Bonnie Stewart discussing online identity. At the start, we were asked to do an introductory exercise where we posted how we identify ourselves. As Bonnie pointed out, we have different “identities” depending on the situation and the role we find ourselves and with whom
Having been online for a while, I’ve come to appreciate that there are many different ways that people address having an “online identity”. As an educator, I’ve wrestled with how I represent myself online. When I first began my online presence, there was a real discussion about whether you should use your real name or a pseudonym for your username. I opted to go with kwhobbes because it was always available, my actual name was so darn long that it was a pain to type – even versions of it that were available. There were a few Kelly Christopherson users already and, by using a unique username all the time it does identify me to those who are following me or know me. I tried to shift the user name a while back but because I already had an “identity” created, it was a source of confusion for people who knew me AND there were multiple users with versions of my name! I’ve since been very clear that my username is something that I use because it is fairly unique and I already have a history, small as it might be, with that username.
As Benita, one of my classmates, has pointed out,
I feel partly lucky that I am coming into the social media time at an older age. Thank goodness cell phones, selfies, instagram, were not around when I was young. I know that there would have been some stupid thing I would have been caught on camera doing and then posted for all to see who looked.
Like her, I am also happy that my years of growing up were void of social media sharing! However, as an adult, it hasn’t meant that I haven’t had to make decisions about sharing, what I blog, what I tweet or share on instagram/Facebook. I’ve avoided snapchat because I really have no one to snapchat with! As a parent, I’ve only now “friended” my older children although we had many long discussions about appropriate use – which we still have now and again, especially after such things like Instagram hacking and the infamous celebrity hack scandal.
One of the benefits(??) of being an educator in a small community is that you soon learn that privacy isn’t really possible. It’s not that people “invaded” your privacy but one had to be always aware of one’s actions. With this in mind, understanding that a digital footprint, or tattoo, is permanent was easier to understand. This Ted-talk by Juan Enriquez explores the idea of the digital tattoo and is one I have used with students to discuss online identity and being online.
Your Life Online – Permanent as Tattoo – Juan Enriquez
As Tara Smith discusses in her post about digital identities:
I have had issues with students being bullies in the online world and being very hurtful people. They also find it funny to make “Memes” or become a Troll on the internet. Their online world then becomes an issue in real life; the playground and classroom. Does anyone else have to deal with this as an educator?
I believe that more and more educators and parents have had this experience and are becoming more aware of the issues. As the hacking scandals have demonstrated, being aware of the potential dangers when using something is important and, as Lisa discusses in her blog,
I wanted to make sure that I address digital citizenship before I started blogging because I want my students to understand how to respond to each other appropriately when blogging. I also want them to understand how to stay safe when they are on the internet.
Working with students is very important. It’s also important that we discuss, not to scare but to inform, some of the things that can happen. Just showing them the “scary stuff” creates – as Carmen indicated in the comments
It really is a 21st century “Stranger Danger” fear
that can result. Being respectful is something that needs to occur everywhere. Teaching citizenship and positive relationships is important for all areas and, although there are different things that need to be considered, it doesn’t necessarily need to be separated.
Who Am I?
I have only one account for most social networks. I use them for different reasons and share different things but sometimes they overlap. I realize that people ARE going to find me so, therefore, I try to be proactive with my online identity. However, there is no guarantee as this article demonstrates. However, there are many ways to manage one’s identity as Krista points out in her post
For example, when I’m on my teacher Twitter with my students, it’s not always the same conversation that I would have on my personal Twitter account. The conversations are sometimes different then they would be with adults vs. students. (This can also be linked with “connect and collapse” when we change our thoughts when we have different audiences.)
One thing for sure, being aware of what is going on online is quickly becoming NON-OPTIONAL for educators.
As educators are increasingly using social media and engaging online, it is important that they be aware of the need to be proactive. As George Couros discusses in his last post – Visibility Creates Accountability –
The more we start showing what is happening in classrooms, and the more visible it becomes, the more I hope it sparks that feeling of both pressure and curiosity in educators to keep pushing themselves to embrace improving their practice.
Being visible has its benefits as it is important that teachers, and education in general, is proactive in telling the story about what is happening in schools. It is also important that teachers are aware that what they do is visible to the rest of the world and being proactive helps to shape the story of what is taking place in schools. Improving their practice is only a part of embracing the use of different tools. Developing a deeper understanding of the uses, limitations, advantages and power of these tools provides teachers the opportunity to engage students in meaningful conversations about their actions in different settings. Creating awareness is part of the conversation but it leads, hopefully, to deeper dialogue about relationships and responsibilities.
Who Are You?
That’s a difficult question. We all have different identities depending on the situation.
Being connected helps us to see who we are, who we can be and who we don’t want to be.