Digital Identities & Behaviour

Digital identity is defined as a “permanent collection of data about you that is online” (Teaching & Learning Innovations CSUCI, 2015, cited. and represents who an individual is to the online community. For this reason, being mindful about what is posted and shared about a person can be important to understand and practice – how would someone want to be seen, not only by friends, but by colleges or future employers? A digital identity should be shaped to appropriately represent who a person is whilst also keeping their professionalism intact. This is where teaching can be incorporated once again into the use of technology. According to Teaching with ICT by Jennifer Howell, students have an expectation of teachers to not only use technology in the classroom, but also to be taught by these technologies as well as learn how they work. Some of these may include the use of an online classroom or a page on a platform like Facebook. Teaching students how to appropriately present themselves in the online world can prepare them for future encounters with potential employers or clients when using online technologies in their professional development, and makes them aware of how to consciously control and develop a digital identity. It can also demonstrate how to appear professionally online even when using a fairly social space.

These drivers are the typical stakeholders in the schooling system. They have interests in the outcomes, whether due to being or having children participating in education, working in education, being employers of the graduates from the education system, being directors and policy framers of education plans, or being part of the context within which the education system is situated (Howell, 2012 p. 59)

The opportunity to create your digital identity by joining and optimizing yourself on social media will make it easier for people to learn about you as a person and a professional (Teaching & Learning Innovations CSUCI, 2015) – this is why what is shared online is so critical. What people see is what they connect to a person, and if they perceive it as inappropriate or distasteful, it will affect how they view that person. For this reason, students must be guided for what is ideal to share about themselves to the world without making them feel like they can’ be themselves, since identity is a very personal and unique thing.

An interesting discussion on creating and controlling your digital identity


Digital behaviour also plays a part in our digital identity – how someone behaves online in the sense of things they say or do can create an aspect of their online identity. From the lecture presented by Jennifer Howell, she focuses on two main points when discussing digital behaviour; what a person “pushes out” and what a person “receives” (Howell, 2014). This refers to what an individual puts out online such as emails, comments or personal details (which must be thought through very carefully) and similarly what they get back from these actions such as a response or perhaps a spam message or virus. For these reasons people should have an aspect of digital fluency so that they understand what it is they are doing and can practice safe online habits. For students, this means learning how to use online sites safely and how to recognize danger and take correct actions.

Another digital behaviour which is quite common in classroom environments is cyber bullying. Teachers should provide students with information about what to do if they are experiencing cyber bullying and make them aware of the effects it can have on their fellow classmates if they take part in the act.




Howell, J. (2012). Teaching with ICT: Digital pedagogies for collaboration & creativity. Melbourne, Australia: OUP Australia and New Zealand.
(Jennifer Howell, 2012)

Howell, J. (2014, February 27). Living and Learning in the Digital World Mod01 04 topic 03 [mp4]. Retrieved from
(Jeniffer Howell, 2014)

Teaching & Learning Innovations CSUCI (2015, June 25). What is a digital identity? Retrieved from
(Teaching & Learning Innovations CSUCI, 2015)

TEDx Talks (2013, April 10). Fake it – to control your digital identity: Pernille Tranberg at TEDxOxfordRetrieved from
(TEDx Talks, 2013)


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