Unplugging is not an option.

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As my time as a Master’s student draws to a close, I’m starting to reflect on the course my digital identity will take once I’m no longer in a weekly tech class where I get updated in the latest and greatest in edtech.

The concept of identity and being split was very nicely put in Jessica Moser’s blog about a teaching versus a private version of oneself online.


Digital identity, as a concept, has been at the core of the majority of the discussion this semester. Everything about digital citizenship falls back on the idea of digital identity. Digital identity is becoming – or has already become – an essential part of existing in a current environment.

While examining what I’ve accomplished so far, I took a look at the history of my blog. I realized I’ve got half of my Master’s on this blog. To have half of my degree in a place where I can access my thoughts on topics quickly and also see classmates’ reactions to my thoughts is really invaluable. It creates a sense of accomplishment in seeing how far I’ve come from the first time I ever blogged to now, when I’m an old hand at it.

This blog has become an inextricable part of my digital identity. When I google myself, it pops up right away:

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But, you’ll notice that not only my picture pops up but a couple pictures of my kids from my blog. They’re part of my digital identity, whether they know it or have chosen to be or not.

This is something I have to deal with once I’m done this class: the conundrum of erasure versus legacy. Do I leave those entries up because they mean something to my journey of edtech or do I erase them because my children deserve to create their own digital identities as they grow?


I thought about deleting this blog and my Twitter (sorry, Alec!) after I was done this class because I don’t if I could faithfully continue with either with any regularity, but then, I googled myself again. If I deleted my blog and Twitter, what would remain of my digital identity? The first hit would be “Rate My Teachers” and nothing from me.

In order to have a say in how I’m viewed online, I need to have input.

This means keeping the blog and keeping Twitter. I want to be in control of my digital identity and this means I cannot opt out of being online.

As much as I’d like to sometimes.

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Choose to say no.


This week’s blog post is brought to you by the Nine Elements of Digital Citizenship.

In examining my progress through my major project (which I explain here), I think the Nine Elements of Digital Citizenship help me frame how I see my apps.

All three of my apps relate to the third element: digital communication.


The first app in regards to my professional use of communication is Google Classroom. I don’t know how I could teach without it now. It’d reduced my paper consumption by around 75% and increased the number of assignments I receive from students. There’s no excuses for losing paper and they can turn their assignment in from wherever they are.

The problem I have is that Google Classroom is also on my phone. I receive notifications whenever I post an assignment or a student turns an assignment in late. This means my phone goes off at a fairly regular basis the day after an essay is due. I’ll go into more detail about digital interruptions later in my post.


The second app for today is Remind:an app I’ve used for years. I really have enjoyed watching it evolve from a little start-up to the ubiquitous educational company they are now. When I first used Remind, I had to get an invitation because it had just come out of beta testing. It was also a challenge to convince my students to get on board. They were a little leery of texting with their teachers. We had to do a few trial runs before they believed that no, it’s not my phone number. No, I don’t see their phone number. No, they can’t reply (remember, this was at the very beginning!).

But get on board they did.

And I’ve used it every semester since.

I’ve been slowly adopting their “new” features, like replying, over the years. I tried out the reply just this year and I have really enjoyed how it has increased interaction between my students and myself. I’ve sent out reminders to my students and they can respond quickly if they have a question:


Although, this kind of instant communication can mean that students view me as being available for them 24/7. It’s a continual learning process in drawing firm boundaries between teacher-me and non-teacher-me.


This bleeds into another of the nine categories: Digital Health and Wellness. Being able to remove myself from social media and electronic forms of communication increase my personal sense of wellness. I even made a New Year’s resolution to stop using Facebook and Instagram (though I don’ t have any social media proof of it. It’s funny how something like this seems untrue unless I can prove it through a social media trail. Kind of a paradox: I want to avoid using social media but need to prove through social media that I’ve done it.)


I think this is where I agree with the critique of Dr Paul Gordon Brown (and Krisanne’s awesome video) in that I want a separate identity from the one I have online, mostly because the online identity I cultivate is me as a teacher. Being a teacher isn’t my whole self. It’s a portion of myself and it’s the self I choose to share online. I can understand Dr Brown’s argument, but I don’t agree with it.

The one thread I’ve noticed in my apps is the ability to have constant access to them, but it comes at a cost. I think the cost could be the elimination of the barrier between personal and professional and I think that could harm a teacher’s well being in the long run. Teaching is such an emotional job in itself that stepping away is necessary otherwise a teacher risks burning out.

These are all aspects of digital communication I will be examining in my final project (which is coming up faster than I thought!)

Do you have any experience stepping away – or not being able to step away – from apps you use in the classroom?

Shuffle to the Left

I feel Bob Dylan succinctly sums up how I feel about this week’s blog post. The lyrics for this song are poignant in that it’s a challenge to youth and those in power to examine their lives and adjust accordingly. It warns of a looming revolution that is closer than one may think.

A perfect way to describe education and technology today.


Schools have a responsibility to change, as I mentioned in a comment on Dani’s blog (who by the way appears to share the same sentiments about counterculture rock from the 1960s as me ;)) because schools were not designed to stagnate.

Educational research into our future learners seems to have reached a consensus regarding what teachers and administration needs to do to help our students. New skills in terms of what “productivity” or “collaboration” means need to be explored. As the 2020 Future Work Skills points out:

Global connectivity, smart machines, and new media are just some of the drivers
reshaping how we think about work, what constitutes work, and the skills we will need to be productive contributors in the future.

And in the MacArthur Foundation White Paper What are the New Skills:

Access to [the] participatory culture functions as a new form of the hidden curriculum, shaping which youth will succeed and which will be left behind as they enter school and the workplace

This means that schools must shift and change in order to meet the needs of our new worldly learners. Schools need to change their pedagogical focus from a one-size-fits-all approach of students sitting in desks in a classroom at a specific time on a specific day to one that meets the needs of individual learners where they are. I think Wendy had some particularly cogent thoughts on this matter.


Additionally, Bree and Danielle’s Powtoons about 21st century learners emphasized the fact that our education system is in need of a revolution.

However Utopian my views on what I think education should be, I am a realist. I am well aware of all of the constraints placed on education, namely, money.


Everything comes with a price. And as education is a public enterprise, it needs to be set in a line of priorities. Taxpayer money is a precious resource that should be dispensed with with great care and due diligence.

And so we come to the title of my blog post: while I advocate for a revolution in education to overthrow the current system, I understand that our progress will be more akin to a shuffle.

A shuffle is still progress and a shuffle can be fun while we get to where we need to be.