Digital identity

Going back to 2011, I can see myself checking my emails in an Internet Cafe in a small town in Transylvania. That was my very first online presence. After moving to Canada, I created a Facebook account to be able to stay in contact with my friends and family from home. It was a great way to share pictures and have a sense of belonging. When I became familiar with messenger and Skype, I thought they were the BEST things ever, and they still play an important role in my life. Through messenger, I can stay in touch with my sister living in Hungary, not my parents though, since they cannot see themselves being able to get used to smartphones. But in 2008, they did buy a laptop which makes it possible for us to see each other on Skype. I wish they switched to smartphones so they are not tied to being home connected to their Wifi.

As we can see, it takes time for each generation to make the move and face the embarrassment of not knowing everything. This was exactly what made me apply for the Master’s Certificate Program in Educational Technology. I saw my kids being online, using various devices without knowing what they were doing. As a parent, I felt awkward and unsafe. I knew I needed to become what the Commonsense Media encourages us, parents to be for our children: role models who can teach their children good habits through using online media together, as well as keeping a healthy balance by keeping distractions to a minimum and turning social media off. My question is how can we educators help the parents who are in a position where I was a couple of years ago? With our very high immigrant population, not all parents are familiar with ways of teaching their children how to be responsible digital citizens. Knowing this, the pressure is even higher, that us, educators need to take this very seriously and teach our students how to develop their positive digital identities.

As Matt Bresciani and Trevor Kerr highlighted in their presentation “What role should schools play in teaching digital citizenship?” “Just as you teach your students the rules of society, it is imperative that you teach them the rules of the digital world, and how to be safe and responsible with technology.” – Mike Ribble

Listening to Daina Seymour and Allison Boulanger’s video on digital identity, made me think of the types of my own online identity. Searching my own name actually made me nervous. I wasn’t sure what I was going to find. Having a common name made finding information on me a little confusing. Certainly all the Educational Technology classes I have taken from Dr. Alec Couros, made me look at the online world from a different point of view, through a more educated and cautious lens. If anyone looked me up, they would see me as an open identity who shares authentic thoughts. Being a shy person, sharing online, outside of the circle of my friends is definitely out of my comfort zone. I also have the audience identity, using different media platforms, as well as content identity, providing carefully crafted content as part of my Educational Technology classes.

Although I am familiar with both students and adults having multiple accounts within the same platform, I never felt the need for having a spam account. Instagram users often dedicate one account to their business, and have a separate personal account. At the RTC Convention 2019 George Couros asked a classroom teacher for his twitter handle and his reply was “which one: my personal or my teacher one?” George Couros replied: “You should have one twitter handle.” advising people that what happens at a Roughrider’s Game, stays at a Roughrider’s Game. Even when you go to a Roughrider’s Game, with everyone snapping pictures and posting them immediately, you might have to watch what you’re doing. When I hear about the spam accounts, the ‘finsta’ accounts, I think this is like a survival mode. People are trying to create a safe space for themselves, where they can show their true selves without being judged. Can this be truly trusted though, with the option of taking screenshots of everything and re-posting things? So, I personally agree with George Couros on having our main focus on building and keeping a positive online digital identity.

One thought on “Digital identity

  1. Hi Melinda, I agree that our job with teaching online identity reaches beyond the classroom. I think a good start is that we share those resources with parents such as Commonsense Media, or sites like Snopes, or PolitiFact. It would be nice to create a broader community for parents to access experts such as teachers. (We may need them to get on Twitter! :))

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