digital identities

14 08 2009

Extremely interesting session but the time was too short for the debate and questions that ensued. I certainly have much to say about it that I will postpone till later and will post to this blog perhaps at the end of the day.  To me, the session raised more questions than it answered:

Creating productive digital identities in the online classroom:


Presenters: Kurt Hockenauer and Jasmine Mulliken

Presented a slideshow of a poetry reading by Walt Whitman.The poem illustrates our identities. Little has changed but some of the identifying labels have changed. We are increasingly identified by our online presence: by our occupation through university or professional profile, through email address, through professional networking sites. You are usually identified by that. They include spaces in the profiles. Who we are in myspace are different from who we are on facebook or on linked in. We ask ‘where are you from?’ but online we ask ‘where can I find you?” We choose to associate ourselves with people who share our values and thus identities. The way a student writes to his/her peers is different from how they write to instructors. Relationships combine to form our social digital identities.

How as educators we encourage students to look at and become more aware of how they identify themselves and what their digital identities are.

How are students used to construct their identities and how we as instructors make them aware of it.

What are students encountering as they identify themselves online? There are a lot of advertizing that come with it.

Showing examples of identities and get students to personalize themselves.

We have to get over the idea that we have to meet face to face for lectures. In fact we have been doing the opposite for a while now. Kurt adds video to his Moodle class.

How can students and faculty create productive online classroom identities?

Student and faculty need to use as many technologies as possible to give a true depiction of themselves. Is it productive? What makes it productive? It needs to be professional and inclusive and friendly.

What constitutes too much information?

Fertile ground for research: A student who has an impressive online identity vs one who does not? Are they more engaged? Do they learn more?

A question from the audience: what is your goal in letting students have those identities? It is for them to be professional learners.

Recommended books:

  • Datacloud: toward a new theory of Online Work – author: Johndan Johnson-Eiola.
  • The Virual Self: a contemporary sociology. Ben Agger.