What is Online Identity?

Online identity is the idea that everything interacting in the digital realm has or acquires a set of data or attributes, both inherent and changeable, that uniquely identify them as a person or entity online. Relevant to issues of privacy and authentication, digital identity encompasses a wide array of contextual and technical identifiers that exist in a ontological taxonomy. Traits can be understood and accepted in mutually agreed upon contexts such as when providing data like name and address for a PayPal transaction, and in the far more technical view that describes the relationships of these entities and objects to each other in cyberspace. Another dimension of this topic is the persona one forges through their online profiles and avatars, specifically on social media.

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(1) How might this technology be relevant to the educational sector you know best?

  • Knowledge about the construction of online identities should be a key aspect of 'social media literacy'. I see social media literacy as an extension of media literacy, through which students learn about concepts like 'representation', the ways in which people, places or ideas are represented according to social and cultural norms. When individuals represent themselves or others online, they draw on these social and cultural norms. In online spaces, a whole host of issues arise that extend on traditional understandings of representation, and social identity construction - because representations are shared in previously unavailable ways - bringing new possibilities and responsibilities; and because a person may not only be represented as a 'person' but as a piece of data. Students should be encouraged to discuss the possible consequences.- dezuanni dezuanni Feb 15, 2015- jmorrison jmorrison Feb 17, 2015- tbrandenburg tbrandenburg Feb 21, 2015 - deirdre.butler deirdre.butler Feb 22, 2015
  • One way to expand the notion of digital online identity is to bring this topic to various sectors of the educational landscape. For example, having career services, administration and other areas in the school utilize this topic to help identify gaps where students are concerned that staff can address. The implications of not taking digital identity seriously and how to go about doing so. - Holly.Lu Holly.Lu Feb 21, 2015

(2) What themes are missing from the above description that you think are important?

  • Social media literacy.- dezuanni dezuanni Feb 15, 2015- Holly.Lu Holly.Lu Feb 21, 2015
  • Digital Citizenship includes this topic and many more - dsilva dsilva Feb 16, 2015
  • I think it is worth considering the relationship between the 'literacies' (media literacy, digital media literacy and, now social media literacy) and 'digital citizenship'. Digital citizenship is often framed in a particular way (at least in the Australian context) to focus on things like safe, informed and 'good' internet use. But the 'literacies' have a broader focus on participation through 'reading' and 'writing' in digital contexts. Both Reading and Writing in digital contexts may be framed up through the what Bill Green and Catherine Beavis call the 3D model of literacy - involving the cultural, critical and operation aspects of literacy that enable social and cultural participation - http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17132116-literacy-in-3d - ; or through the media education 'key concepts' approach through which students engage with the framework of Media languages (codes and conventions), representations, institutional questions, technological questions and questions about audience use (each of these concepts has it's own complexity and specificity). I'm not sure 'digital citizenship' gets into this kind of specificity (I may be proved inaccurate by the 'Common Sense Media' curriculum mentioned below). This is not intended as a criticism of the concept of digital citizenship, but rather I'm proposing that online identity goes beyond the notion of 'digital citizenship' - after all, in our daily lives we are far more than 'citizens': we are consumers, producers, creators, thinkers, debaters, family members, friends, members of clubs and societies, religious organisations, students, workers... Each of these roles has specificity that can't be reduced to 'citizenship' (although we are all 'citizens'). In my view, digital citizenship is a highly useful and important concept, but does not capture all of 'Online Identity', and hence is does not capture all that social media literacy would want to address. - dezuanni dezuanni Feb 17, 2015 Agree, I have found that students of all ages do not understand what having a "digital identity" means nor do they realise the "digital footprint" they are creating. Their understandings of privacy and boundaries are also very poorly formed - so we have a responsibility to help understand and identify what "being digital" in today's world means so we can all make informed decisions about what "bits" of my identity I wish to reveal to who and for what purpose - deirdre.butler deirdre.butler Feb 22, 2015
  • Ethics of access and usage of a person's (or group of people) identity - tbrandenburg tbrandenburg Feb 21, 2015- Holly.Lu Holly.Lu Feb 21, 2015 Agree - deirdre.butler deirdre.butler Feb 22, 2015

(3) What do you see as the potential impact of this technology on teaching, learning, or creative inquiry?

  • Online identity is at the core of learning in digital contexts - see James Gee's 'What Video Games have to Teach us about Literacy and Learning'; or Lave and Wenger's 'communities of practice' theory of learning. We learn through ongoing 'becoming' with the aim of being accepted within a community of practice (a professional community or a social community). We move from the edges of the community to the centre as we gain more knowledge and skills and gain recognition for these knowledge and skills. So identity formation is essential to educational processes of any sort.- dezuanni dezuanni Feb 17, 2015
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(4) Do you have or know of a project working in this area?

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