In an effort to better understand (and educate for) digital citizenship, I am going to reflect on my personal journey through digital citizenship in my past, present, and future.
Logan Petlak’s Digital Identity Past
A.K.A why Facebook Memories makes me shake my head [smh] at myself daily.
Digital identity and footprints weren’t a thing until social spaces became prevalent like Myspace, which was prefaced by MSN Messenger. I made my names and statuses either song lyrics that I thought were cool or that people would like (“I got soul, but I’m not a soldier”) or put hearts around elementary school girlfriend’s names “<3 Michelle <3”, or both! I liked bands and people on Myspace that I thought my peers would be impressed that I liked, and adjusted half-mockingly, half-seriously, my top five friends on Myspace. But this identity, at least to the best of my ability to find it, no longer exists.
Facebook had emerged in high school, and there began posts begging for attention and acknowledgement. Some funny, some needlessly oversharing (given my definition of oversharing now).
Facebook “on this day” serves as a constant reminder of this, to which I have been pressing delete to try to minimize the non-digitally-citizened presence of Logan Petlak, despite the positive learning experience I bet it could be.
Facebook Profile Picture (17 years of age) – April 13th, 2007
I had hoped to find pictures on Google Images that would help should my youth and digital footprint from long ago, but I was unable to find anything prior to my teaching career – I considered that a positive!
Here’s my first Facebook Profile Pic though!
Over the course of several years, as I went through my undergraduate studies at the University of Regina, I continued to experiment with sharing online in what I considered my “private” world of Facebook. There was a progression in the content I shared over time. There were less pictures at social gatherings and less posts asking “what everyone was up to tonight”. They progressively become fewer and fewer as my teacher education grew and grew.
This progression brings up questions though, what caused the shift? Was it brief forms of digital citizenship occurring in my courses? Was it settling into a long-term relationship? Was it simply exiting my early-twenties and maturing? Or a combination thereof?
Petlak’s Digital Identity’s Present
A.K.A Educating students on digital citizenship and their digital identity.
Present-day. I’ve found success in not getting too full of myself as an educator. The reality is that with the multitude of experiences and perspectives sitting in every one of my classrooms, my experiences are so specific and limited, it’s really not logical to assume I know more than any student in any particular subject, especially social media and the social dynamics therein that influence their relationships with one another. This translates to how I approach digital citizenship in my classes. I believe I possess the humility required in “recognising and respecting the knowledge students already possess about these media”. The reality is, I possess a fair amount of experience with social media and its inherent effects on identity as it played a role in shaping mine in my teenage years, especially when compared to other educators belonging to different generations. But it would be presumptuous to think I know more than my students. The idea of being a facilitator of discussions about digital citizenship hopefully allows students to consider their digital roles, identity, and footprint better than I did at their age. As with much of the learning in my classes, it revolves around questioning.
But will it look the same in the future? I don’t specifically assess how they interact online – definitely not summatively at least, but they have to critique/cite sources. They question bias of sites. Maybe my document will allow me (and others) to more formally assess digital citizenship learning in my science courses.
Petlak’s Digital Identity Future
A.K.A what will my digital identity become, do I or don’t I comment on “Fake News” or blatantly-biased and inaccurate posts on social media by my peers?
In class, we did some cyber-sleuthing to see what we could dig up on some individuals and their digital footprints. Naturally, I felt the need to revisit my footprint.
My present identity seems positive: my website, tweets, work with the division’s Gay-Straight Alliance, and hockey stats. Good for you, Logan!
But how will it look in the future? And what is and what will my digital identity look like through the lens of my friends/followers whom I rarely see in person anymore but still follow their lives on social media?
As an educator, do I stay true to my trade and try to educate in my social circles as well? If I call out “fake news” to my friends in the future, do I become too preachy in their eyes? Does their perception of me matter if I’m promoting what I am required to as an educator and representing my profession “well”?
What about if I have kids someday!? How will I educate them? Will I share photos of them while they’re young so that they actually have a digital identity before they’re even capable of deciding their own?
I very much agree with Krista and Kelsie’s phrase of digital citizenship being a “patchwork process”. My journey is evidence, albeit subjective, of how digital citizenship education can’t be precisely defined, but I really think speaks to the incredible scope of education and learning that can occur when the digital realm is responsibly utilized (or even the learning that can occur when it is irresponsibly utilized).
There’s always questions!
I enjoyed reading your response Logan and appreciated your humble response that you don’t assume you “know more than any student in any particular subject”. For me this certainly translates to all subjects I teach and I think it is easy for kids to relate to a teacher with this mindset. Each class is a journey for both the students and the teacher and I find myself learning so much along the way from the different experiences of my students as I am sure you do as well. Cheers!
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