Online Learner Identity – final NLC Hotseat

Managing your online learner identity

Kamakshi Rajagopal, Adriana Berlanga, and Peter Sloep March 19th – 23rd

This promises to be an interesting final Hotseat before the Networked Learning Conference due to take place in Maastricht next month.

Kamakshi Rajagopal has started the discussion off with these questions:

  • Is our online learner identity really important for learning?
  • Can we learn something about ourselves from the digital traces we are leaving on the Web? Can it tell something about how we are learning?
  • Do we put only true information on the Web? Do we have double, triple, etc. identities? Is that ok or not?
  • How does our online learner identity relate to our offline learner identity?
  • What are the options we have to manage our online learner identity?
  • Is the management of a learner identity an issue of technology, an issue of awareness, an issue of learner skills, or all of them?
  • How can we deal with privacy, maximising the benefit to the learner and minimising the risk of information misuse?

I’m looking forward to following the discussion.

7 thoughts on “Online Learner Identity – final NLC Hotseat

  1. brainysmurf March 20, 2012 / 1:08 pm

    Thanks, Jenny, these are great questions and ones I have wrestled with over the last two years.

    I believe an online learner identity, specifically a web-based one, is only necessary because of the issues of privacy, traceability and permanence of web-based information. It was not something I ever considered in a classroom/face-to-face environment or even in a closed online course. In those cases, I was just “me”, though I was always mindful of how much personal information I shared in those spaces.

    Since I did not grow up with web technology at my fingertips, I have always been cautious about the traces I leave behind on the web. I continue to be surprised at Googling how many places have my real name recorded somewhere when I have never contacted them directly.

    I think we have lots of options to maintain our digital identities, on a continuum from 100% falsified to 100% real, with as many permeations as we wish. We might have a particular identity inside a massive game, which could be the same or different inside one or more moocs.

    I see learner identity management as an issue forced by technology, with all of the logins and passwords it comes with, as well as an issue of skill to navigate all of the customization and security options. Consider how many switches on and off switches there are in FaceBook or LinkedIn.

    The only ways I know of dealing with privacy issues are
    1. to be as limited as possible in what I share online, under my pseudonym, real name or both or
    2. Avoid online interaction altogether.

    There will always be information predators out there, no matter how much we try to defend ourselves against them. It’s a risk we take every time we sign in or leave a comment.

    Cheers 🙂

  2. jennymackness March 20, 2012 / 5:42 pm

    Hi Brainysmurf – thanks so much for these fascinating comments. Are you following the Networked Learning Conference Hotseat. If not, I can recommend it. The discussion (in which I am lurking) is very interesting.

    My first thoughts about all this are that learner identity is learner identity wherever you are, off or online. I live in a rural village and I have similar concerns about privacy in the village as I do online. In both I have had to consider how much to reveal about myself and to whom. In both I made a few mistakes when ‘I was younger’ (metaphorically speaking), but on the whole I am reasonably comfortable in both spaces now – although I still occasionally cringe at the trace I have left behind.

    I also (as a first thought) don’t see how my identity can be anything but a learner identity. I see my learning as the gradual and ever changing development and growth of becoming ‘me’. What I am learning, what I have learned, what I will learn is ‘me’. I don’t see that there can be any other ‘me’. I am the sum of my learning experiences. That is my identity.

    Thanks for your visit. Jenny 🙂

  3. brainysmurf April 4, 2012 / 12:37 am

    Hi, Jenny. Not on the Networked Learning Hotseat but looking fwd to this week’s topics in the #change11 mooc.

    Loved your last paragraph “I also (as a first thought) don’t see how my identity can be anything but a learner identity. I see my learning as the gradual and ever changing development and growth of becoming ‘me’. What I am learning, what I have learned, what I will learn is ‘me’. I don’t see that there can be any other ‘me’. I am the sum of my learning experiences. That is my identity.”

    Wonderful! Diigo’ing this for future reference 🙂

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