This week in #EDTC400 we reviewed the many ways in which we can contribute to our online identities, with a focus on the use of blogging and Twitter. While these are only two of the countless ways in which one can develop an online identity, our discussions really got me thinking about my online identity and how it has changed over the years.
As a child, I was not overly interested in using technology, as I preferred to spend time outdoors engaging is sports or spending time with my friends. I didn’t really get involved with technology outside of the school environment until I was in grade 9, when I got pulled into the Facebook craze and created my own account. From this point on, I became increasing present online, joining different social media platforms such as Instagram, YoutTube and most recently, Twitter. I didn’t realize it at the time, but through my activity on all these platforms, I was and continue to contribute to my online identity.
As the child of a teacher and someone who always knew that they wanted to become a teacher themselves, I was taught from a young age that what I posted online could impact me in the future. Due to the fact that I was older than the majority of my peers when I started to use social media, I managed to avoid the common phase that many people experience where they post things online without thinking about the implications it can have. By the time I became active online, I was old enough to understand the importance of thinking before I post and ensuring that what I post online is how I want to be seen by others, both in my personal and professional life.
This week’s class discussion really pushed me to ask myself what parts of my digital identity are accessible to the public. I decided to look over my different forms of social media, my privacy settings, and history in order to grasp a better understanding of what image i was projecting of myself to others.
First things first, let’s take a look at my blog! As you may already know from our interactions in the past, or you may be hearing this for the first time, I am very open about the posts that I make and do my best to conduct myself in a professional manner. This blog of mine is used solely on a professional basis, however I do include some aspects of my personal life in order to allow for my readers to really get to know who I am as a person. Growing up, I always wanted to start a blog of my own but was never able to build up the confidence to do so, mainly because I didn’t understand what all blogging involved. Once I entered the Education program at the University of Regina, I quickly came to learn how online resumes are taking over and may be replacing paper resumes very soon (crazy, right!?). With this in mind, I knew it was time for me to buckle down and really start to contribute to my professional online identity through blogging. While my blog is still in its early stages of development, I am continuing to add to it each and every day! My goal is to one day have an active blog filled with lesson plans, quotes, posts about my experiences, resources and more!
Next up on the list of social media platforms is Facebook! Over the years, Facebook has been a form of social media that I have started to use less and less. I very rarely post anything on my account other than the occasional photo or birthday wish. With this being said, my Facebook account is very open and I have not set any privacy settings that would prevent others from being able to search for me. I am open to others seeing my profile, but I am very selective with the friend requests that I accept because I know of many people whose accounts have been hacked or taken over without their permission. One of my favourite things about Facebook today is that I can keep up to date on things that are happening in the school I grew up in! I think that schools that have general Facebook pages are great because they allow for interactions with the community and sharing that goes beyond the school, opening up new possibilities!
I have two separate Instagram accounts. My longest standing account is my personal account, in which I post pictures of events and activities of my daily life. My account is listed as private simply because I experienced a lot of people I didn’t know trying to comment on my pictures and message me. This was something that I was uncomfortable with so I made my account private as more of a safety precaution. My other account is a baking page titled @thesweetlife that I developed after taking #EDTC300 and becoming engaged in baking after my learning project! This page of mine is open to the public and while I don’t post on it frequently, I do enjoy having an outlet for my creativity that is separate from my day-to-day postings.
Prior to taking #EDTC300, I had never posted anything to YouTube before, let alone have my own channel. The very thought of posting my own videos caused me to have butterflies in my stomach! However, throughout the course, I decided that creating a channel would be a great way to showcase some of my baking, as well as different aspects of my education journey. My YouTube Channel is very new and there are no privacy settings enabled on it. I have recently begun to explore YouTube more closely (who knew there was more than music videos one there?!) and this has really opened my eyes to the possibilities that are out there for educators and students alike! If you check out this link, you can find some great examples of helpful Youtube channels for teachers!
Last but not least, I have two separate Twitter accounts as well. My personal Twitter account is one that I created a few years ago but never really understood how to use! Due to this lack of understanding, I have very little content on it. My professional Twitter page is much more developed and I am more active on it than any other social media platform! After creating a professional Twitter account that is open to the public, i decided to make my personal account private in order to avoid confusion. I have also considered deleting my private account because I don’t use it very often, however I continue to maintain it with the intent to someday start back up with it!
While I am in no way a Twitter expert, I feel that I have grown and learn so much ever since I developed my professional account. This has allowed for me to engage with other amazing educators around the world, share my ideas, and learn from others as well! Engaging in Twitter Chats, such as the ones on this list, have really allowed for me to step outside of my comfort zone, develop some amazing relationships, and get my name out there into the Twitter world, something that I think is important for all educators!
So What Does My Online Presence Say About Me?
Now that I have examined the different ways in which I am accessible online, the question remains as to how others interpret what they find or read about me online. While I am a firm believer in the idea that you can’t always control the way others view you, I also believe that it is important to ensure that you are projecting a positive image of yourself online.
In terms of how I present myself online, I would consider myself to be a somewhat open book. The majority of my online accounts and activity are accessible to all, with the exception of a few measures I have taken to ensure that I feel safe online. This transparency that I have maintained allows for others to be able to find me easily online, however the few privacy steps I have taken allow for some discretion in terms of what can be found without requesting my permission first. This allows for me to have some control over who can and cannot gain access to my online accounts, allowing for me to permit future employers, administration, colleagues, and peers to find me online, while still maintaining a certain level of professional privacy from my students when necessary.
I think that it benefited me to grow up knowing that what you post online never truly goes away because it ensured that I was and continue to be careful with what I post and share with others. On the other hand, I sometimes feel like I may be too cautious with what I choose to share online, often second guessing myself and not allowing for my true self to be represented based on the fear that I will be misinterpreted. This goes back to my earlier statement in which I believe that others are always going to judge you based on what you post, no matter how positive it may seem. My rule for posting has and continues to be “if you wouldn’t want someone to see it, such as your parents, employer or best friend, then maybe you should think twice before posting it!”. This is something that has served me well thus far and I think many other would benefit from following it as well!
One thing that I would like to work on in terms of my professional online identity is learning new ways to integrate more of who I am as an individual into my online presence. While professionalism is important to me, I also want others to be able to get to know the real me as well! I think that this can be achieved through experience with different online platforms, interacting with others, and of course through #EDTC400!
I am excited to continue to add to my professional online identity in the years to come as I work towards my teaching degree. The STF’s Tips for Professionalism Online is a really great resource for those of us who aren’t super comfortable on how to conduct ourselves online yet. Not only does it highlight the importance of being a role model for one’s students online, but also other tips to ensure that your online presence is the most positive and accurate representation of you! Here are some other resources that provide some great tips and pieces of advice to people who are wanting to build and maintain positive online identities:
- 8 Tips to Building and Maintaining a Positive Online Image
- A Beginners Guide to Establishing a Professional Online Presence
I think it is important to learn how to balance one’s personal and professional online presence because while we are going to be teachers who are held to a high standard, we are also human beings who have the rights to express ourselves! This is a balancing skill and is something I think I need to work on in my experiences to come!
In closing this blog post, I would like to extend an invitation to everyone reading this to follow some of the links I have provided to my different online accounts and give me a follow! I am very open to developing new professional relationships online and would love to expand my network through sharing, following and interacting with others!