Watching the kids in my classroom use technology as the school year begins has been interesting. Many of the kids in my grade seven and eight class already have facebook pages, or twitter accounts or an online presence before they enter my classroom. But few (if any) of them have a space like a blog that can be given over to extended writing, or posting videos they find interesting, or sharing their passion in another way.
Watching these students begin to feel their way around a new online space has got me thinking about identity. They have a blank space, which really means a blank slate. They can be whoever they want. Their identity in a space like this isn’t something that is given to them, it is something they construct. This is new for our time in history. Our parents may give us our names, but our identity online is something that is malleable. We can share part of who we are on a facebook page, another part on a blog, and a completely different piece on a podcast we produce. The potential exists for our identity to be much more fluid between these different spaces.
Overall I’ve always encouraged my students to think of their blog as a container. As a space where, if they were writers, they could write. If they were photographers, they could share their work and if they felt they were better at producing an audio message, they could do that as well. This year I’m wondering if we need to go further. Do we need to be offering different spaces? Given the choice, would kids choose a wordpress blog as a container? Or would some of them choose tumblr spaces, or flickr accounts, or pinterest or something completely different to build up and share their digital identity?
If identity is something we construct instead of something that is given to us, would the identity of my students be reflected in the spaces they chose? Would it make a difference?