Has your identity changed over the years?

Identity. What is identity? Who defines your identity? Can your identity change or once it is formed does it follow you forever?

Merriam-Webster defines identity as

: who someone is : the name of a person

: the qualities, beliefs, etc., that make a particular person or group different from others

Your online identity is described on Wikipedia as

: Internet identity (also called IID), or internet persona is a social identity that an Internet user establishes in online communities and websites. It can also be considered as an actively constructed presentation of oneself.

In the past, people used to feel shielded behind the screen and viewed their online presence as an anonymous presence, being able to be anyone or thing they wanted to be. However, this is changing as we are becoming digital residents, leaving pieces of ourselves online each time we sign on and giving personal information to websites as digital identifiers.

Photo Credit: Steve Ramsthel via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: Steve Ramsthel via Compfight cc

Additionally, even though we may seem anonymous in our presentation online, we are posting putting ourselves out there into a world that never forgets. As we are posting into this vast online world, we are vulnerable to a variety of interpretations. Wesch describes this as a context collapse.

“The images, actions, and words captured by the lens at any moment can be transported to anywhere on the planet and preserved (the performer must assume) for all time.” – Michael Wesch, July 23, 2008.

As well as images, actions, and words being captured and transported anywhere and preserved, they are also open to many different understandings. This is something I have struggled with in this course and posting my reflections online for many to see, keep, and interpret. I don’t consider myself a very skilled writer, so putting my thoughts into words and posting them for others to read is something I struggle with. I also tried my first vlog in this course and it took me many attempts to get the video I thought was “acceptable” to post.

So why do I struggle with putting myself out there in the online world, when I find myself to be quite the people person in the face-to-face setting? Perhaps it is because I am creating an online identity in a world that is less forgiving and doesn’t forget.

Jeffrey Rosen, explains this phenomena in is article on “The Web Means the End of Forgetting.” In his article he gives many examples of people who lost jobs, were denied privileges, and essentially publically shamed because of something that was posted online. Additionally, companies are doing their research on potential employees by conducting online searches of people. Have we lost our ability for a second chance?

When I think back to my adolescence and some of the ridiculous, yet harmless, things my sister and I would do in our spare time and imagine if these were shared online, it makes me cringe. My already hard adolescence years would have been caught for others to judge and share, without the context I shared with my sister. Then to think of the mistakes that were made during my teenage years, which have long been forgotten.

Rosen explains that we are now experiencing a “collective identity crisis.” We used to be able to shape our identity dependent on the different role you were in (at home, at work, at sports, etc); however, the idea of an augmented reality and digital dualism is changing this ability, since all our identities are intertwined.

Photo Credit: smartwayblog via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: smartwayblog via Compfight cc

So how do we defend our online identities? How do we teach youth to be forward thinking and present an acceptable identity for when they “grow up”? How do we create a community of forgiveness and empathy in the online world? How can we stress the importance of “owning” your digital footprint?

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The wheels are starting to turn

This week has been a huge progress week for me as I tackled some “big idea” questions for my final project. I was fortunate to attend two very relevant PD sessions this week within our school division which have helped guide the way I would like my final project to go.

Digital Citizenship Education in Saskatchewan Schools
The Nine Elements of Digital Citizenship via Digital Citizenship Education in Saskatchewan Schools

The first session was on Digital Citizenship and the Balanced Approach to Learning. We looked at the role of digital

technologies in education, the essential skills for 21st century learning, and the digital citizenship continuum. We then had a chance to create a lesson that integrated 21st century essential skills and digital citizenship concepts and skills. As I was looking through the digital citizenship continuum, I thought this would be a perfect place for me to start with my lessons for my final project as I could integrate the 9 elements of digital citizenship with my transliteracy lessons. With permission from Jennifer Stewart-Mitchell and Genna Rodriguez, I am able to use the lesson plan format they created to create the lessons for my Transliterate Librarians Website (which is still very much a work in progress… Stay tuned for a draft publication!).

I am very excited about this breakthrough because I believe by collaborating with other professionals in our school division, we will create resources that will have a purpose and be used and shared with others within the school division. The lesson I created (Boutilier – Digital Citizenship Lesson Planning Framework / Animal Research Report), ties in directly with the inquiry and research section of my website. It is an expository writing lesson (for grade 2) which uses online databases to research an animal and write a report.

RCSD 21st Century Skills
RCSD 21st Century Skills via RCSD Digital Consultants

The second session was our TL EdCamp. This was my first year participating in the TL EdCamp, but I came out of the sessions feeling renewed and refreshed! It is so great learning from your peers and being able to participate in a conference in a non-traditional way. I went to a session on Genius Hour/ Maker Space where we focused on the book Invent to Learn.  The next session was on a new resource from National Geographic Learning, which focused on 21st century reading: creative thinking and reading with TED Talks. We looked through this resource and connected it to the Saskatchewan curriculum. I am really looking forward to working with teachers and this resource. The next session was Social Media in the Library. This session had some heated debate on digital citizenship and whether using social media in the library and in schools was ok or not. We also talked about the media release form and how perhaps it needed to be updated to reflect social media. The last session was about using tools such as Kahoot and Quizizz to engage students in review.

This week has helped me kick start my final project… I am excited to see how it progresses over the next month.

“Digital Citizenship is more than just a teaching tool, it is a way to prepare students for a society full of technology.”

– Dr. Mike Ribble

Digital Citizenship is for Everyone

For the past couple of years, the dangerous term digital natives has been used to describe people under the age of 18. The reason I refer to this term as dangerous is because there was/is an assumption that young people were natives to technology, the internet, and navigating online. Nevertheless, just because they are brought up in a digital world, does not make them digital citizens. Being literate in the digital world and with media should be looked at like continuum, there are varying degrees of use.

Often when we think about digital citizenship and media literacy we tend to think of schools and children. However, digital citizenship and media literacy is not just for kids. Cyberbullying and online shaming is one of the issues faced by kids and adults alike. One of the earliest instances of this online shaming happened in 1998 by Monica Lewinsky. Although social media was not in the picture as it is the today, she lost her reputation on a global scale instantaneously through the power of World Wide Web.

Fast forward a few years and the online shaming is worse off. The creation of social media, such as, Twitter, gives a voice to the voiceless, but in some ways it has created a sub culture of online shaming. We are now turning to the online world for social media shaming. For example, Justine Sacco lost her job, reputation, and much more with one tweet:

Justine Sacco's Tweet
Justine Sacco’s Tweet

Although this tweet is racist and should not be tolerable, the response to her tweet from others on twitter are just as intolerable. Ronson quotes Meghan O’Gieblyn from the Boston Review saying, “This isn’t social justice. It’s a cathartic alternative.” Because we are hiding behind a screen, many rush to judgement or speak before they think and with the internet this can have harsh consequences. Sometimes through this public shaming we are losing site of the big picture.

The problem of cyberbullying is a growing issue.  It is so easy to rush to judgement, say hurtful things and post online without thinking. Because the online world is our augmented reality and is so intertwined with our offline lives, we really need to think critically about what we are posting, sharing, and creating. Another example of not thinking before posting is Geris Hilton’s racist post about his coworker’s son. What upsets me the most is the ongoing jokes and comments in the sidebar. I have much respect for Cayden’s family in trying to focus on the positive and sharing what a beautiful child Cayden is through the hashtag #HisNameIsCayden.

Geris Hilton's Facebook
Geris Hilton’s Facebook

It is important to think of the following questions when you are online:

Would you say what you are going to type to that person in real life? Would you be ok with posting this in a public place for others to see? Does your post have a purpose?

I think we need to use our “common sense” when online, just as we do offline.

But let’s remember the positives too… there are positive impacts on social relations, it allows us to teach authentically through project-based, cooperative learning, and inquiry-oriented approaches, and it allows us to connect globally with limited costs.

Photo Credit: aa1083 via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: aa1083 via Compfight cc

“School is the exact place we should be teaching students to live one responsible life as a citizen, in the digital world and the physical world.”

It is all worth it and it is so important to teach and model how to be a digital citizen. The future is unpredictable and changes very quickly, but the one constant is us as humans. How can we use these dramatic changes to enhance and transform the way we do things? Are we making time for conversations? Are we having conversations around digital citizenship? Is our time spent online, time well spent?

It’s all about the process…

Initially I had decided to do the internet-based social activism project as my final project; however, I ran into some glitches with the class I was going to work with and decided I would rather do this a personal project than a final project for this class. I am still very passionate about bringing our AR program outside of the school and in turn make a larger impact on the school community. Our school has applied for the I Am Stronger grant and is still actively present on our blog and twitter. Follow us at @heart_library.

Photo Credit: charlywkarl via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: charlywkarl via Compfight cc

I am VERY excited about implementing and creating my new project that will directly relate to my new role as a Teacher Librarian. This position interested me because the role of the teacher-librarian with RCSD is evolving. It is my hope that through this position, I will be able to collaborate with other teachers to implement engaging and innovative technologies to improve student learning, engage students in inquiry based learning to help develop multiple literacies, and teach students how to use technology to find information and with the information the ability extract and synthesize it to formulate new meaning. That being said, I think my final project will help me achieve my goals as TL.

Photo Credit: Joyce Valenza & Gwenth Jones via joycedownunder cc
Photo Credit: Joyce Valenza & Gwenth Jones via joycedownunder cc

What I would like to do is create a webpage based on the ideas on an image created by Joyce Valenza and Gwyneth Jones. I was amazed when I tweeted this image and my twitter account blew up! This image combined with the proper hashtags gave me the most action I have ever seen on twitter. It had around 100 retweets or favourites and I gained a plethora of followers. This gave me confidence that pursuing a final project based on the evolving role of the TL would not only have importance to me, but also others. As I said, part of the reason I left the classroom and took on the role of the TL was so that I could be involved with helping other teachers and students with transliteracy and I think this project will help me accomplish that.

My final project will be a webpage that is a comprehensive resource for TLs and teachers that includes lessons and resources on the four domains as listed in the poster (inquiry/research, evaluating resources, creating & sharing, and digital citizenship). Specifically I would like to focus my lessons on the Gr. 1-5 range. This website will have lessons, ideas, and resources that address the bullet points listed on the poster. My next step is to start gathering resources, developing lesson plans, and creating a practical resource for TLs to help develop transliteracy.