Digital Security

Digital identities and security

The contemporary digital environment is associated with our digital identities. Individuals are able to access the web, are themselves admitting to an online identity and therefore a digital one (Sclafani, 2014). One’s identity online is defined by the actions they take and what online presence they form or seek to form. The footprints that users leave as they visit sites on the web, the digital likes, shares, comments, uploads and much more represent a big data – as seen by the algorithms that identify us, track us and personalise our use of the web. The construction of online identities is represented by the self we project and there are both risks associated with the creation of online digital identities (Davis, 2012). In the first instance it may breach security issues associated with online identities.

In the context of the digital world, online identity is an invaluable one as it facilitates the two knowledge’s – between what is known about the student –via online identity trends – and what knowledge they wish to be informed about – or require according to the teacher. A digital identity is hence here the representation through a set of characteristics of the identity of an individual that is used in some processes of interaction with others in distributed networks for recognition of the individual. For a teacher in the digital world, the learning and educating nexus can be promoted by understanding who the students are and what their digital culture is like, that is, how do students engage online and what does their digital identify say about them (Beck, 2015)? Appreciating who your students are online, and build together with them a classroom ethos will permit teachers to infuse digital culture in the classroom, including ethical behaviour and awareness of digital identity. Is it known for instance, what genre of games they play, which platforms are used to communicate with their friends and what topics motivate them for instance? All this is invaluable information to build our 21st century classroom.

Digital identities can help bridge the gap between the student and a teachers understanding of their learning potential. Likewise, there are many risks involved (Erstad, 2013). For instance (Erstad, 2013);

  • Privacy issues
  • Tension between academic practices & social media conventions
  • Plagiarism & intellectual property rights
  • Students becoming more familiar with consuming over web content
  • Poor digital literacies

Some of the benefits include:

  • Peer reviewed and sharing scholarly/educational practice
  • Amplifying learning through connecting to a global audience
  • Awareness of audience
  • Producing authentic digital texts

There is no doubt that in the digital world, digital identities can serve as a tool for many educators to establish an ecosystem that helps improve students learning outcome. Yet there are some security issues that need to be addressed in the first instance (Erstad, 2013).


Beck, E. N. (2015). The invisible digital identity: Assemblages in digital networks. Computers and Composition35, 125-140.

Davis, K. (2012). Tensions of identity in a networked era: Young people’s perspectives on the risks and rewards of online self-expression. New Media & Society14(4), 634-651.

Erstad, O., & Sefton-Green, J. (2013). Identity, community, and learning lives in the digital age. Cambridge University Press.

Sclafani, A. (2014). ‘Nonymous’ social networking sites (SNSS): The adolescent identity crisis of the digital sphere. DARTMOUTH COLLEGE.


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