Monthly Archives: September 2016

How do digital identities intersect with vocation?

Capital is a Lutheran school and so I talked with the students in the DigCiz class a bit about the Lutheran idea of vocation. I’m not Lutheran but I have worked at a Lutheran institution for almost nine years and I have attended Lutheran conferences where the idea of vocation was the focus. I didn’t really feel qualified to give an overview of the Lutheran idea of vocation so I let folks like Parker Palmer speak for me (even though he is Quaker I felt that he drove the point about purpose home) and threw in some Fredrick Buechner.

Even though I’m not Lutheran I feel drawn to this idea that the thing that a person does with their life is bigger than just acquiring a set of skills and collecting pay.

I think that one of the things that makes Capital, and other small Liberal Arts institutions, distinct is this focus on the whole person and life long learning. Yes one needs to learn skills but as markets fluctuate an ability to know oneself, what one is passionate about, and how one can best meet their needs but also serve the world – well that is big. Then we add in not just knowing one’s self but knowing how to articulate one’s digital self. It is going to be a process. We are not going to finish this lesson by the end of the DigCiz course. However, we can start.

If digital citizenship is about being a person on the web then how does one use the web in terms of their calling, their vocation, their career, their job?

There are a lot of warnings about putting information online that could be of a detriment to career prospects or even to current employment. This is an important point that cannot be overlooked. Different careers may have different limitations about what can be public and what needs to stay private. For instance, if in an educational or health care field in the United States, laws such as FERPA and HIPAA will come into play in terms of how much you can say about students or patients.

However, when considering any career there is a lot to be said for having a strong network. Digital and social media can help to build a network when used as a tool for learning. Most fields are shifting and changing at a rapid pace and being able to connect with others in a field to gain knowledge can be an important skill. A professional website can be a place to highlight achievements and a blog can give a glimpse into ones thinking over time. Using social media tools can of course act as a news feed but more importantly it can connect a person with others in their field who may have knowledge to share.

But it is a delicate balance.

How the public and private are juggled is going to differ depending on each person and the environment in which they find themselves.

For this next blog post prompt I’m asking students to consider a job, career, field, discipline, etc and then to think about how a digital identity fits into that world. Are there others in that field who are expressing themselves as digital identities now? How do they use the web in that field? What hashtags, if any, are being used to gather conversations in that arena on places like Twitter? What about LinkedIn and personal websites? However, I’m hoping that students don’t forget to notice what is not being said and why – is there a law prohibiting certain types of speech? If not a law a kind of professional courtesy? What does all this mean in terms of being a digital citizen? 

Image Credit CC-A  Joelle L “Facebook: Self-constructed digital identity and academic performance”

Prompt One – What is Digital Citizenship


Its Alive!

And by “alive” I mean public

And by “it” I mean my UC100H Digital Citizenship course. I mean the course itself in terms of the birth of this blog and in terms of all of the student blogs – yes for this class but also the personal websites that the students have made for themselves.

We are live and in the public – here we go.

1st prompt

So, what is DigCiz? This is the question that I’m posing to the students as a prompt for their first blog post.

It is not an easy question. There are many definitions out there and I know many professional academics that are still debating that question. If you google the term from here in the middle of Mid-West America you will get a bunch of definitions centered around K-12 U.S. education. That can be a helpful starting place but I can’t help but wonder what kind of example is being set for children by the digital citizens currently on the web.

In a nutshell when defining digital citizenship, I think about identity, then environments, and then interactions between identities and environments and between identities themselves. Just like “on the ground” or “in the flesh” citizenship I first consider that you have to be a person (and recognized as such); being a person online is what we call digital identity. I then consider how digital identity exists in an environment, that is, how environments dictate agency in terms of affordances. Finally, all the complexities around how our digital identity exists with other digital identities in various environments. On top of it all there is a tension, even in that broad definition, between the citizenry that we want, or even would idealize, and the citizenry that we live every day.

It is still early in the term and we have touched on digital identity and digital environments a bit but we are still getting started. I front loaded a tiny bit of all those things in the first few weeks of class. We read about Gardner Campbell’s vision of a personal cyberinfrastructure, we talked about ownership and if you could really own your own domain with Maha Bali, we spoke with Rebecca Hogue and considered the responsibility that we take on when we start talking about others in public, we explored privacy and security concerns on the web, and looked at how we can share our work with Creative Commons.

So what does it all mean? What is digital citizenship? Is it important to think about the way that we collectively share space on the web? How does one reflect themselves in a digital identity and why is that important? How will my students use their domains to create a digital identity for themselves and is that important to them? What rights and responsibilities do we all have to keep/make digital environments that contribute to the digital commons in a productive way? How do we interact with one another in positive meaningful ways online?

Till next time – Autumm

Image Credit: By Hopfare368 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons