As part of the Online Identity badge, we had to complete a series of tasks, which involved the analysis of our online presence. It included searching your name to see what would come up, completing your LinkedIn profile and other tasks. The reflection for the tasks can be found in my Pathbrite e-portfolio. Recently the Social Media for Learning has posted this article ‘The Google Yourself Challenge‘ which is highly recommended reading as it presents a complete list of ways to check yourself online and offers suggestions on how to keep your private life private.
To help understand and learn more about online identity, I took part in a few MOOCs to pave the way and guide me in the right direction. The first one was a course offered by Canvas.net Digital.Me: Managing your digital self This course is not available at the moment and you can’t earn the badges or certificates, but I was able to go through the content and complete the activities. The second course was Learning Online: Managing your identity, which again offers insights on how to manage your online identity. This was very basic and targeted at a younger audience that is just joining university or starting their first job. Although it is targeted at an entry level, you can still take some positive points from it, so both were worth doing.
To highlight the importance of our online identity, Beetham and Sharpe ‘s (2010) pyramid model of digital literacy development sets ‘Identity’ at the top of the pyramid as identity defines who we are. (JISC 2014 available at: https://www.jisc.ac.uk/guides/developing-digital-literacies [accessed 01 June 2018]).
After completing the tasks for the Online Identity badge, I could see that we can shape our online presence in the way we want it to be and that we are in control of the image that we portray to the outside world. Our online presence is a statement of our identity, and although we can’t hide behind only positive images, we need to be careful of how we present ourselves online.
When we engage in heated discussions online or make comments or jokes that are publicly available, we leave behind a set of clues about the type of person we are, and when someone looks at these comments they make assumptions about us. When making a statement online, it is important to check the language and tone of what you are writing, to make sure it is for the appropriate audience.
‘Our online identity can be ‘fixed’ and will change for better or worse over time as new material is added. The quality of our digital reputation lies in the audience whereas our online identity is set by the owner, and our reputation can be developed through choosing carefully what we add to virtual spaces that we engage with and we can work to avoid anything that may be detrimental to our image’. (Digital.Me: Managing your digital self).
We need to constantly ask what we want to remove from the internet, check our privacy settings and keep certain aspects private, also what can be added to build a stronger online presence. However, it is not only what we post online about us that counts to build our online footprint, but also what others say about us, how they interpret what we say online.
This experience made me reflect on what I post online on my personal profile as well: What is appropriate and what is not. Should a parent ask their children for permission before posting pictures of them online? How will this affect their online identity as they grow up? These are important points to reflect on and we should also be considerate about how we are shaping their online identity.