Positive Digital Identity

Q: What are the implications for our students when it comes to the permanence of digital identity?

A: Some implications for students when it comes to the permeance of digital identity is realizing that whatever they post online is going to be there forever. They post one wrong thing, and it could ruin a potential chance of getting a job in the future. In the TED Talk – How One Tweet Can Ruin Your Life, it makes people realize how important it is to be aware of what they are posting. My mom always told my sister and I, “think before we speak” this becomes relevant when being on Twitter – think before you Tweet. If there is a time and you start to wonder if it is appropriate to press tweet, maybe that is time to step back and think about whether or not if that one tweet could ruin your life. In the TED talk Jon Ronson said: “you can lead a good, ethical life, but some bad phraseology in a Tweet can overwhelm it all, become a clue to your secret inner evil.” I think this is important to get students to realize that what they post now could harm them in the future. Showing this TED talk to students will help get them to realize just how fast the internet works and how one thing you say may get turned around and ruin your life.

Q: In your experience, how is digital identity dealt with in schools?

A: From my personal experience, I was never taught about digital identity in school. I never had teachers talk to us about the importance of what we post online. Now that I am older I have been taught about the importance of keeping a positive digital identity and how more employers will focus on your digital footprint compared to the piece of paper you had to them with your credentials and achievements. Many teachers I have seen create Twitter or Instagram account to document what their students are doing, which also lets parents know what their child is doing. Since we live in a world where social media is so commonly used, it is nice teachers use them as well so parents do not have to pick up the phone and call, or coming to the school to ask questions, with a click of a button they can see what their child is doing thanks to social media.

Q: What role should teachers/schools play in preparing students for a world that never forgets?

A: I believe that the teachers and school need to play a huge role when it comes to preparing students for the internet. Since classrooms are becoming more and more technologic, it only makes it clearer that teachers need to prepare the students to use the internet properly. Teachers need to talk to students at a young age about creating a positive digital identity and also help them create one. In Monica Lewinsky’s TED talk – The Price of Shame, I enjoyed during her talk she made the comment “Remember just a few years earlier [from 1998] news was consumed from just three places: reading a newspaper or magazine, listening to the radio, or watching television” for us living in 2018 we have social media were news travels even faster now. For me to think of a world without social media is crazy, I have grown up in a world with social media and technology being everywhere. When I was younger, there were not many social media accounts, but once I started school there became more and they took over our society. Unless, we see it online many people do not think it is real, but sometimes what we see online is not really true either.

It is us, as pre-service teachers to know how important digital identity is and teach our students that. Teachers and schools need to show students just as Lewinksy says “with every click, we make a choice. The more we saturate our culture with public shaming, the more accepted it is, the more we will see cyberbullying, trolling, some forms of hacking, and online harassment.” Teachers need to be aware of this bullying and create a safe classroom and steer children away from cyberbullying while in the classroom but also while they are outside of the school. In the article benefits of technology in the classroom by Janelle Cox, she talks about how “technology prepares students for the future” which could not be truer. Since more jobs, look at the future employee’s digital footprint it is important to help students create a positive one. Cox also says, how technology helps students make connections, I never realized how great a social media account like Twitter is to help me connect with people around the world. Students can find connections while they are still young which may help them know when they are growing up what they want to do without the pressure of others around them.

Q: How do we balance the need to protect students with the need to help develop positive online footprints?

A: We need to understand everything that is on the internet that our students may get onto. As much as we want, to keep our students protected from everything we cannot protect them 24/7. Once, they leave the doors of the school and go home we are not there to watch what they are doing and tell them whether or not that is going to help them create a positive digital identity. I think the balance is whenever using technology in the classroom to remind the students how important it is to have a positive digital footprint and encourage them to think before posting something. In the article The IRL Fetish by Nathan Jurgenson, he makes a valid point how we never really turn off social media. I think this is something important and to tell our students that we are always online or thinking about online so it is important to always keep it positive.

We can only do as much as we can inside the classroom to encourage students to keep a positive online footprint. On the computers and iPads, we can put different extensions on which eliminate students from going anywhere they should not and delete stuff from articles that are not necessary. I think we protect them as much as we can inside the classroom and hope through that protection they will continue to keep a positive online appearance while at home.

Q: What might it look like to teach about digital identity in your subject area?

A: Teaching digital identity in my subject area could be easy but could be difficult. I am in the PreK-5 program so at a young age, would teaching them about this go over their head or not? By Grade 4-5, students are already finding ways onto social media so teaching them about being safe and positive is important. Creating a classroom Twitter account, or each student having a blog where they post or using Seesaw and each student has their own account is a great start. I think the best way to help students create a positive digital identity is having students start blogging at a young age so when they get older, it is something they do every day and helps with their positive footprint. I was able to find an article called, 3 Greats Ways Teachers Can Create an Online Identity for Their Class which said the best ways are: A Class Blog, A Class Twitter Account, A Class YouTube Account. I think all three of these would be useful, because I know I am constantly using all three now, so it only makes sense to start children young and help them build this positive digital identity.


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