Over the last year or so I have taken complete control of my Digital Identity. While completing studies in Digital Citizenship, I accepted the idea that I was going to have a digital footprint and it was my responsibility that it was a positive one. This has allowed me to blog freely and tweet regularly without fear of judgement. From a teaching perspective this confident view of digital identity is actually quite difficult to pass onto middle years students (I teach middle years). They are at an impulsive age where they will write and post without discretion and often do not see the repercussions of their digital interactions. No surprised there really. Some adults are pretty bad too.:-)
I wonder if games that allow these students to create and take ownership of an avatar would make the concept of digital identity much more real as, from experience, an avatar almost allows you to see yourself online – even if he/she is not a literal copy of yourself. An avatar is a bridge between the physical and virtual world, controlled by the gamer to learn about the world, execute their intentions and to accomplish goals and intentions (McCreery,Schrader & Krach, 2011). From a pedagogical perspective I see the avatar as a digital tool to be mastered.
Avatar creation is at first a very confronting process but in the end quite liberating. A well thought out avatar eventually empowers you to take ownership of and play in these virtual spaces – and connect with the developing narrative. I must admit, it took me a while to developed this creative game playing confidence. In Second Life I took my avatar to an empty sandbox to make sure he looked Ok before having a social debut, so to speak. This is a wonderful thing about learning in virtual spaces – these spaces provide a low risk environment where participants can learn via experimentation..
This sounds slightly weird but in this course of study (INF541) we have been presented with the idea that digital identity is an elastic idea that contributes to the overall view of the self. Over the last few years I have taught some students with particularly low self-esteem and weak views of self. I wonder if they would have felt a sense of liberation by creating, naming and playing with their own personal avatar? At the very least I am sure they would have had fun participating in such a creative learning process.
McCreery, M. P., Schrader, P. G., & Krach, S. K. (2011). Navigating Massively Multiplayer Online Games: Evaluating 21st Century Skills for Learning within Virtual Environments. Journal of Educational Computing Research, 44(4), 473.