When I speak with my high school students, many of our conversations (both academically and personally motivated) relate back to identity. It reminds me every time how difficult it is to make decisions before truly knowing who you are. Once priorities are set in place, these choices become easier. I’m not sure when I thought I discovered my identity, but now I find myself faced with an entirely new question: What is my digital identity?
At the start of my second masters course I began thinking about this question, but I didn’t really face it until reading the article Do I Own My Domain If You Grade It? by Andrew Rikard. Here he discusses the importance of student ownership with the upcoming trend on school-provided or public domains on which assignments are posted. I am now one of these students as I continue to develop my eportfolio, but I am also a potential facilitator as I hope to implement eportfolios into my own classroom. Mr. Rikard identifies two important questions that must be answered before I can find my own digital identity or expect my students to do the same.
First, “if no one wants to read the hastily constructed blog post for a class participation grade, then what is the purpose of making it public?” This is an important idea. If I or my students are rushing to complete assignments or find little connection to them, why should they be public? The simple answer: they shouldn’t. I always find relevance in my assignments, but I know my students struggle to do this at times. I think this question makes the eportfolio even more important because whether assignments are public or private, I want my students to find them relevant and important. This now challenges me to make clear purposes for asking my students to publicly post assignments. I accept that challenge!
Next, Mr. Rikard states that “giving a student ownership over data means nothing if it doesn’t allow them to determine that data.” Asking students to own data by posting it publicly could be detrimental if they do not believe in what they are posting. This means assignments must have personalized opportunities if we expect students to want to share them with the digital world.
In thinking about the future and where I want my education and my students’ educations to lead, I have never been more certain that I want it to include eportfolios. I may not know my digital identity yet, and they may not know their personal identities, but I believe the two are very closely related. The more I evolve as an eportfolio user the easier my formatting and posting decisions become. If I want to provide the same opportunities for my students, I must allow them to determine the content. So who owns my eportfolio? If I expect to continue using it after my courses end, then that answer better be me!