In todays ‘big brother’ era it is crucial teachers consider the ramifications their digital identity could have on the professional life. Increasingly, employers are using social media as tool to screen potential employees (Yeager, n.d.). The media often draws attention to teachers being penalised and in some cased fired for inappropriate use of social media (Simpson, 2010). The term ‘digital tattoo’ used by the University of British Columbia [UBC] and companion tagline ‘think before you ink’ are a perfect analogy and reminder of the permanency of online activity (The Digital Tattoo Project, 2013). Teachers are highly visible community members and as such, need to remember that their online activities are open to scrutiny (Yeager, n.d.). The internet is a public arena (UBC, n.d.).
Learning about new technologies and exploring the digital identities of teachers through their blogs, linked-in, and pinterest accounts has excited me to the positive potential and professional strength of a carefully executed digital identity. Initially I was concerned my eclectic assemblage of personal posts and information shared online is misaligned with my teacher identity. While I believe strongly in my right to express myself online in a personal manner I am aware of the necessity of having distinctly separate identities by maintaining a distance between your personal and professional persona and have resolved to clean up my online presence. My excitement lay in discovering the ways I can control how I portray myself online. Acting in the role of curator I can create the ideal teacher identity to be used to promote myself to parents and employees. For teachers an online identity can be a digital portfolio, place to store resources, and proof of professional engagement, critical reflection and continual development (Yeager, n.d.). It can serve as a window to a teacher’s pedagogy and is a valuable tool to network and connect with fellow teachers (Owens, 2014).
Mindfulness for how online posts may be misinterpreted if the audience or context change, and an adept understanding of the mechanics of digital security are essential skills for teachers to function successfully in the 21st Century.
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The Digital Tattoo Project. (2013, March 13). TBYI: 5 types of people on social media [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NMiD7jzG_ck&feature=youtu.be
Owens, M. (2014). Using social media in the classroom: Why there is a lot to like. Retrieved from http://www.facultyfocus.com/articles/teaching-with-technology-articles/using-social-media-classroom/
Simpson, M. (2010). Social networking nightmares: Cyberspeak no evil. Retrieved from http://www.nea.org/home/38324.htm
University of British Columbia. (n.d.). Removing myself from the internet. Retrieved from http://digitaltattoo.ubc.ca/protect/removing-myself-from-the-internet/
Yeager, J. (n.d.). When should teachers use social media? Retreived from http://incare-k12.com/when-should-teachers-use-social-media-personally-vs-professionally/