With society becoming increasingly digitised, including 13 million Australians spending 18 hours a day online according to the Public Relations Institute of Australia (2012), it is no wonder that one’s digital identity and hence security becomes paramount. This is particularly relevant for adolescent students, born into this digital world, and hence having begun the development of their digital identities perhaps at the very moment they became conscious. According to Lizenberg (2013), a digital identity is a collection of data about an individual that represents their traits, preferences and attributes across distributed networks. Indeed, as teachers, understanding one’s students by the way they look, talk and behave in class is sufficient for shaping an identity, however, teachers know very little about what students do online. This includes what activities they participate in online, how they communicate with peers online, their awareness of privacy levels etc. As educators adopting the modern pedagogy of inclusive and personalised learning, it is necessary for teachers to understand not only students’ physical identities, but also their digital identities, to be able to better empathise with and therefore deliver a more inclusive learning environment.
Whilst a seemingly overwhelming task for teachers to educate students about such a vast topic, teachers can narrow down the issue to a few questions (Bjerde, 2015). First, do students know what they can access online at school or at home, and what they are allowed to do? In essence, educators should consider rules and routines for technology usage. For example, in the classroom, access to gaming websites or non-education related sites may be blocked, hence enabling students to develop more disciplined and efficient approaches to online usage. Secondly, what data about students is shared? Many schools and universities alike, use single sign-on portals, as well as release user attributes such as age, grade level and learning needs. This raises an additional question, that is, when students sign in to apps, are they simply letting apps know their identity, or are they allowing the app to act on their behalf. As a result, as educators, one has the responsibility to explain to students what exactly is shared on the internet, for what purpose, and who is able to access this information. On one hand, such a system enables efficient access for different teachers and peers, to student information to deliver better inclusive education. However, without appropriate security and regulations, student data can be left vulnerable. Following from this, the third issue to consider is how the data shared is controlled; that is, the digital record should be audited. This ensures that online activity by both teachers and students stick to data and privacy regulations, as well as protection from suspicious activity or breaches.
Bjerde, M. (2015). Managing Student Identities in the Digital Era. Retrieved from https://thejournal.com/articles/2015/10/08/managing-student-identities-in-the-digital-era.aspx
Lizenberg, N. (2013). Digital identity and teacher´s role in the 21st century classroom. Retrieved from http://www.academia.edu/4618867/Digital_identity_and_teacher_s_role_in_the_21st_century_classroom
Public Relations Institute of Australia. (2012). 13 million Australians spend 18 hours a day online. Retrieved from http://www.pria.com.au/industrynews/13-million-australians-spend-18-hours-a-day-online