Learning about the importance of developing a positive digital identity was the most valuable subject of this class to me. After reading what Eric Stoller said about the Student Affairs’ role in “developing intentional learning spaces about digital identity” at universities, I collected some great open resources and developed a lesson on digital identity for my students (adult learners attending higher education).
This is what we did together:
- Ask your students who their audience is. Discuss who they think could read/see what they post online.
2. In small groups, ask students to analyze the four situations presented on this activity (I gave a hard copy of the activity to my students, but it is very important to show them the pictures found in the online version). Students will discuss how the four groups of people would react to their sharing on social media.
3. Give your students 10-15 minutes to Google themselves. They need to log out of the apps on their cell phones/laptops to see what everybody can see on their profiles regardless of any permission received (settings). Ask students to use this worksheet as a guide. The worksheet is from this lesson plan, and you can read more about this lesson plan here.
4. After giving some time for your students to find what is “out there” about them, discuss how the following aspects connect to what they found about themselves:
5. Post the following web links on the platform you use in class. You can add/delete these sources as you find others that better serve what your students need to discuss.
7. How to market yourself online (video)
8. Top 8 tips for staying safe online (video)
9. Be social-network smart (video)
10. Brain Hacking (video)
6. Give a number from 1-10 to each student in your class and ask them to read/watch the open resource that follows their number. For example, students who got the number three must read resource #3 on the list above. Even though two or three students will get the same number, according to how many students are in your class, they will read/watch the source individually.
7. After 6-10 minutes, ask the students who got number 1 to share the main idea and the tips suggested by the author in the blog post/article #1. Do the same thing for sources #2 to #10.
8. Since October is National Bullying/Cyberbullying Awareness month, I decided to end our class watching this video with my students:
The whole class seemed interested in the discussions. A few of my students were very surprised at what is possible to find online about them that they were not aware of. One of my students (a woman) found a news article stating that a person (a man) with the same name as hers is facing drug trafficking charges. Even though it is clear that she was not involved in this event, we discussed what could be done if she believes this could affect her reputation.
Some of the strategies/tips shared during the short presentations about the ten open resources on digital identity were unknown by the majority of my students. Many students verbalized that they will Google themselves carefully again in another opportunity to clear some of the stuff they left behind as they used the Internet in the past. Three of my students (out of 58) did not find anything related to their name online but expressed interested in building a positive digital identity from now on.
I believe that it is our role, as educators, to not only develop a positive digital identity for ourselves but also bring this awareness to our classrooms through discussions like these ones I had with my students. I have to thank Dr. Couros for developing and facilitating this course on Social Media and Open Resources because I would not discuss this with my students otherwise.
Feel free to use these resources and to adapt the lesson for your students. Please share in the comments if you have suggestions on how to make this lesson better. Do you know other blog posts or videos that could be added to the list of open resources? It is my goal to have this conversation with my students every semester from now on, so new materials are appreciated!