For this week’s post, we were asked to reflect on the idea of digital identity and explain how our past, present and future online practices contributes to who we are as individuals. The way in which we represent ourselves offline and the activities we practice online determines our online reputation and digital identity. Before taking online courses with Alec, my knowledge about digital citizenship and identity was restricted. I suppose you could say, I was aware about the basic “Do’s” and “Don’ts” for practicing online safety, such as not providing private information in online spaces I am unfamiliar with or do not trust. But, establishing a person’s digital identity is so much more than protecting private information or sharing a photo online. It involves the understanding that our past and present online activity and practices will ultimately contribute to how we are showcased or perceived within the digital world.
My Past- Growing up in the 1990’s, the world-wide web was limited in its potential. I do not recall using technology and the internet for entertainment really, more so for doing research for school work. Therefore, my understanding of the internet was that it was only to be used as a secondary resource (next to textbooks) for finding information. The concepts of digital identity and digital footprints were not taught in schools during this time but I was encouraged by my parents to exercise caution while navigating through online spaces. Although my parents might be considered digital immigrants according to today’s digital standards, even with little or no technological experience, they were aware of the many potential online risks. They always paid close attention to my practices online to ensure my safety, even while conducting research for school. I am grateful for my parents as they encouraged me to think critically online, even when establishing these skills were not the focus in schools. Ever since then, I have worked hard to maintain a positive digital identity by being active in online spaces while monitoring my digital footprints closely.
My Present- As an adult learner and educator, having a positive digital identity is extremely important to me. The way I am perceived in online spaces not only reflects my personal reputation, but also professionally. Through the use of social media platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter and blogging, I have grown more confident in my ability to make my presence known online as well as share in my learning. Moreover, I have learned that the world-wide web can be a valuable tool and can contribute to our learning in a variety of ways, as long as it is used responsibly and appropriately.
My Future- For my future practices, my goal is to maintain a positive digital identity. Furthermore, I intend to model for my students the many ways we can be active and productive online. I have been very fortunate to have obtained the knowledge and critical thinking skills required in order to protect myself while contributing to digital world. I hope to educate my students about digital identity meanwhile provide them with opportunities to explore open spaces but in a teacher-guided environment.
As educators, it is important that we teach our students about the importance of digital identity. Knowledge is key and without it, our students are at risk for making mistakes which cannot be undone and potentially harm their digital reputation. In partnership with teachers, parents can encourage their children to be responsible and to think before they post as children are more likely to be active in online spaces after school hours. In the article “Teacher’s Guide to Digital Citizenship”, it states “either educators nor parents have the means to completely control how students use technology. That only makes it more important for educators to address digital citizenship in the classroom, so students will have a better idea of what they’re getting into once outside of it”. Therefore, I believe that students may achieve positive digital identities for themselves if they have the tools and critical thinking skills required for navigating responsibly online. As Amy B states in her blog this week, “We need to prepare students for a digital world that doesn’t fully exist yet, we don’t fully comprehend and while it is online it will still impact their daily lives”. I couldn’t agree with you more, Amy B! Our biggest mistake as parents and teachers is to simply assume that our children know what they’re doing, without any guidance. Digital wisdom is not automatically embedded into our brains, it is taught. Together, we can create opportunities for our students to be present in online spaces while steering them on course to maintaining safe and positive digital identities.
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