My ultimate goal and purpose in cultivating my digital identity and presence throughout the MALAT program is to enhance my skills and practices as an educator working in an increasingly technological world. Embedded within this goal, I aim to develop my expertise in the area of digital literacies, so that I can best guide my students in becoming digitally literate life-long learners (Ryberg & Georgsen, 2010).
It is necessary to push myself out of the zone of being primarily a visitor into developing a resident presence (White & Le Cornu, 2011) that combines both my personal and professional identities. Historically, my inclination has been to keep these identities strictly separated, especially in digital environments, and I wonder if this has to be the case moving forward. Kelly Schryver’s New York Times blog post explores the challenges of determining identity on the web, and which versions of ourselves we choose to be online (2013). I ask: is it necessary to have to make that choice? My personal philosophy has been to live a life in which I am respectful, communicative, and considerate of others, while also standing for the things that are worth believing in. These are characteristics that can easily be transferred to a digital setting. Furthermore, as a K-12 educator and parent of young children, modelling positive digital citizenship can have a huge impact on the young people I interact with. Combining my personal values with a public teacher persona to cultivate a positive digital presence and identity is an opportunity to lead by example.
Audrey Watters writes that “it is important to have one’s own space in order to develop one’s ideas and one’s craft” (2015). This is further supported by David White and Alison Le Cornu in their statement that “A blog post is as much an expression of identity as it is a discussion of particular ideas” (2011). This led to the decision that developing a presence on Twitter, and actively contributing to my MALAT blog and the blogs of my classmates, would be the best course of action to achieve my goals. It will be possible to make connections beyond my current K-12 education networks through active communication and interaction with my fellow MALAT classmates in a public domain – our blogs. By tracking my interactions, I hope to develop relationships and engage with every single one of my classmates throughout the program.
There are a number of skills and knowledge gaps that will be addressed as I progress as a MALAT student:
- Learning about educational technologies, and assessing the relevance and potential impact in K-12 environments.
- Increasing my comfort level with experimenting with new digital tools.
- Refining my academic writing skills by regularly visiting RRU’s Writing Centre and reading books of choice.
- Sharing my blog and work with colleagues at my school to gather input and constructive feedback.
- Seeking solutions for issues or problems that arise by connecting with my RRU classmates and/or support networks.
- Collaborating and learning from my fellow students.
- Engaging in course readings and participating in discussion opportunities with my classmates.
I will measure my success by actively engaging through my MALAT blog posts, developing a presence on Twitter, interacting with my classmates in formal and informal settings, bringing my learning experiences to the staff at my school, and applying what I learn to the work I do with my students. A long-term measure of success is writing a paper or article that might one day be published. This could be an opportunity to bring my belief in technology and the power of public education to a broader audience, and for other educators to encounter best practices to implement in their classrooms.
One final piece is acknowledging and recognizing the pressure I put on myself to perform to a certain level and produce products that are polished and “perfect”. That being said, a thought has been repeatedly appearing at the forefront of my mind. It is essential to my growth and learning to acknowledge that I will get as much, and probably even more, out of the process of my MALAT experiences, along with the products I create. Central to cultivating my digital identity and digital presence is recognizing when the critical voice inside my head is an obstacle. When that happens, and it will, I will remind myself that there is immeasurable value in the learning process, and the Amber that arrives at the end of this journey will be the result of persevering through the challenges that arise.
Ryberg. T., & Georgsen, M. (2010). Enabling Digital Literacy. Nordic Journal of Digital Literacy, 2(5).
Schryver, K. (2013, February 5). Who Are You Online? Considering Issues of Web Identity. The New York Times: The Learning Network. https://learning.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/02/05/guest-post-who-are-you-online-considering-issues-of-web-identity/
Watters, A. (2015, July 15). The Web We Need To Give Students. Bright. https://brightthemag.com/the-web-we-need-to-give-students-311d97713713#.a2rmav7fp
White, D. S., & LeCornu, A. (2011). Visitors and Residents: A new typology for online engagement. First Monday, 16(9).