Reflection: How can I effectively use my online identity to support my offline teacher identity in the classroom?

With all of the discussions in class and in Module 5 – Digital Identity, I’m seeing myself as a different person. I know how important it is to create positive digital identities. I feel lucky that when I was job searching, an Internet search was not part of the process. I do not have anything online that I am ashamed of, or to be judged by negatively (unless my sense of humor is under judgement – nothing offensive, maybe a little crass, at times, but that’s it). I have always “searched” myself… one of those 47%ers… (old stats), but I’m sure that the Digital Footprints article from Pew Internet (December 2007) is on target with the growing numbers of individuals who do search themselves regularly. Not sure if I was just too bored or a job hazard, but always curious. Nowadays, how we represent ourselves online is part of our livelihood. I do not think there are too many people in a position today to not care.

Maya and Free Spirit Media, the video clip of the teen going for a job interview and then being searched online, was well-done for a student audience. Teenagers care about being social, and this is a great example of how reckless behavior can effect your life. Each step students take online is part of their future. There are many aspects of student life that teachers take responsibility for. Teaching students to be responsible curators of their online identities is at the top of the list.

With that being said, educators from this class need to bring this information to our staff. There are many ways to assist students in developing the skills they need to create positive digital identities. In Digitally Speaking/ Positive Digital Footprints, William M. Ferriter (April 2011) expresses the idea that teaching students to be afraid of the Internet interferes with digital footprints “as potential tools for learning, finding like-minded peers, and building reputations as thoughtful contributors to meaningful digital conversations.” Also, he states that students have less risky behaviors when they see the Internet for learning first, and then entertainment second. That understanding comes from educators who believe that technology is a tool to enhance their teaching, not a distraction that is to be saved for outside the classroom.

With all this being said, I did check myself out on the Personas website. I have “no digital traces found.” Uh oh… I mean, good in one sense, however, bad for me not being a household name by October. I will be working on creating my digital learning hub before school begins. While listening to the Digging Deeper slidecast by Ian O’Byrne (I needed to get a good night’s sleep), I began sketching out my website. I want to create a portal for parents, teachers and students. Open content to all, but refined for easy searching. It was as if it all made sense! I was trying to figure out what information I wanted to share with administration back in my district, but I said… maybe I should put the effort into a main page and then just shoot them the link!!! I believe that there is so much more investigating I need to do though. As I was listening to Pernille Tranberg from TedxOxford, I was tabbing over to Facebook to see how I can change my name on my personal page. Again, there isn’t anything there that can not be seen by employers, students, etc. And nor do I plan on posting anything questionable. But, I do want to keep my private life a little concealed. If I work hard at building my digital identity for my professional life, I would like to keep the two separate.

Knowing how to separate these identities will help me be an instructional leader for students and teachers alike. I can assist in showing them the importance of our online and offline identities, and help support them with showing the students the relevance to a positive digital footprint.