The 21st century has seen a tremendous growth of technology used in everyday settings. This technology growth, and the growth in society’s digital presence with online profiles and social media platforms have led to an increasing need for students to maintain a professional digital identity, especially as undergraduates. Digital identity is defined as “all-encompassing online presence of an individual that includes social media, professional profiles, and other discoverable content” (Gill, Zampini and Mehta, 2015, p. 1219). Digital identity has become important in this technology driven century, yet it does not appear to be formally addressed in any depth in traditional undergraduate education. Beyond social media and web browsing, many students do not have the necessary skills to build their digital identity (Cochrane & Antonzak, 2015). One form determined to be successful in creating a positive digital identity is electronic portfolios, otherwise known as eportfolios. It is not only a collection of one’s progress and achievements, but it is a method that allows students to connect their learning from various contexts such as academic, workplace, service learning, and campus organizations, while also supporting professional development (Tosh, Light, Fleming, & Haywood, 2005; Gerbic, Lewis, & Northover, 2009).
College students, and anyone using social media, should consider what their digital identity is, and even what you would like it to be. A social media monitoring company states that “nine out of ten employers will check the social media profiles of potential employees” (Montalvo, 2014). Social media is a powerful tool that can be used in a positive way to highlight what you have to offer in a profession, job, or industry. It is a method used to communicate and connect people in all different venues, areas of interest, or even find support groups. It can be a way to meet professionals and create a positive online presence while in the comfort of your home, that may even lead to new opportunities (Brand & Shahrzad, 2013).
The topic digital identity began out of conversations when Dr. Jaime Hannans, Assistant Professor in Nursing and Yosemite Olivo, CSUCI Nursing Student worked together on the pilot project: Digital Badges for the Nursing. Dr. Hannans hoped nursing students could use ePortfolios and digital badges to showcase qualities beyond a transcript, or letter grade, while building a positive digital identity. There can be a focus on the negative aspect of one’s digital identity related to fear of what is posted or shared, therefore one goal was to introduce and inform students how to use these tools to create a positive identity. Highlighting and sharing diverse qualities and interests, can lead to successful connections. The idea “Who am I?” resulted from discussions about how as human beings we may be slightly more or less comfortable as ourselves in different environments (work, home, professional event, wedding, celebration, etc.). You have the power to direct what you share or don’t share in creating a digital identity, just the same as the control you have in your behavior or response in various environments. The aim of this AUTS project is to inform all university students about the importance of digital identity, and to start thinking and talking about how to prepare for the professional world earlier in their college careers.
T&LI Digital identity video
Brand, P., & Arasteh, S. (2013). Using linkedin and twitter for job search and career management. Career Planning and Adult Development Journal, 29(3), 33-44.
Cochrane, T., & Antonczak, L. (2015). Developing Students’ Professional Digital Identity.
Gerbic, P., Lewis, L. & Northover, M. (2009). Student perspectives of eportfolios: A longitudinal study of growth and development. In Same places, different spaces.
Gill, B., Zampini, A., & Mehta, N.(2015). Digital identity: Develop one before you’re given one. Urology, 85(6), 1219-1223.
Montalvo, M. (2014). Social media could affect job search, college search. University Wire.
Tosh, D.,Light, T., Fleming, K., & Haywood, J. (2015). Engagement with electronic portfolios: Challenges from the student perspective. Canadian Journal of Learning and Technology, 31(3).