Is it our job to form our students digital identity?

Awwh, the week before the break is here and we are all eager to have a hopefully relaxing break to recoup from the debates and mini-lessons we have been checking off the list throughout EDTC400. This week’s debate was very interesting! We discussed the controversial topic of “openness and sharing in schools is bad for our kids.” To be honest with you, I was very confused about what this topic meant going into the prevote. For some reason I had in my head that we were talking about sharing between one another, however, after the debate I now know I was a little off! Oh well! Dryden and Ashley were the debaters this week and they did a wonderful job starting the conversation as well as keeping the conversation flowing nicely throughout the class discussion.

The prevote was somewhat shocking! More people voted for the disagree side (including myself), then the agree side! Again I didn’t overly understand the topic during the prevote! Now I know to always make sure to read the little description beforehand!

Pre-Vote Results 

After seeing the prevote, everyone could tell that Ashley had her work cut out for her! But if Raeann and myself were able to win some people over, I was sure Ashley would have been able to do the same! After the debate was over I could see that my predictions were right! Ashley went from having 11.1% votes to splitting the votes 50/50 with Dryden! This just shows that this debate topic really got people thinking and challenging their preconceived thoughts they had about the topic going into the debate!

Post-Vote Results

Now let’s begin addressing the awesome points each debater stated to support their argument!

Let’s begin with the agree side:

Ashley gave four main points that supported why she believes that sharing students work and personal information is seen as unfair. In short, the four main points are as listed:

  1. Student consent is not always considered: In Ashley’s argument she stated that many of the consent forms she looked up were addressed to parent’s. This does not allow the child to have a say in their own work and ultimately their own life.
  2. By sharing students work online whether it be the parent or teacher, they are the ones creating the digital identity for the child, not the child themselves. This is very problematic when students get older and realize all of the information about them that is online that they have had no control over. There have even been cases of children suing their parents because they built this digital identity for their child that will never disappear! Liz also asked a very important question that goes along with this topic. She states that when do we know that children are ready to decide for themselves what they want and do not want to be posted, and when do we leave it to the parents? She stated that when she was young she always told her dad to post a picture of her, but now looking back she does not know why she ever allowed it!
  3. The next statement Ashley brought up is that posting pictures, students work, and other information about the child can lead to cyberbullying and embarrassment. While we live in a world filled with technology, cyberbullying is on the rise! Do we as teachers really want to be the people that enhance these levels of bullying for an individual? One of the classmates gave us a personal story about a friend who had to post work in high school onto a blog, looking back at it the friends giggled and poked fun, however, if that work got in the wrong hands it could have been a lot more hurtful and detrimental to her friend’s wellbeing!
  4. The last point that Ashley stated to support her argument is that privacy settings do not always allow for privacy. I think this is a very good point that must be addressed, you could have your privacy settings to the max and people online could still get ahold of that information! This work is then shared with whoever can get access to it, and it can also be negatively altered to result in cyberbullying to towards that individual. After Ashley stated this point I immediately thought of this picture that Katia always shows throughout her class. This picture shows how there is no privacy while being online. That is once it is online, anyone who wants to can find a way to access the information! Is that something we really want to introduce our students to without their consent? 


As discussed in both the debate as well as the article Ashley shared with the class, there are many factors both parents and teachers should take into account when they begin posting their children’s work, pictures, or personal information online. Understanding that once it is online, there is no way of getting it back becomes extremely problematic when the children grow up and begin to form a digital identity for themselves.

The Disagree Side:

As one can notice from the pre-vote results, many of the EDTC400 class agreed that openness and sharing in schools are not bad for kids. I also contributed to this vote! Dryden began defending his side of the debate with many points that supported his argument well! Here is a short summary of the points Dryden listed:

  1. The foundation of teaching: Teachers must share their knowledge and experiences in the classroom through discussion. By doing this allows students to then relay their knowledge back to the teachers to show they have retained the information asked of them. By using online sources, sharing has become a lot easier for teachers to connect with other teachers across the world to share resources and tips, one way this can be seen is by participating in numerous twitter chats. As well as connect with their students through sources such as Remind, or Google Classroom.

    Photo Credit: SalFalko Flickr via Compfight cc

  2. The second point Dryden stated in his argument was teachers need to be open to change. This article that was offered to our class looks at the importance of being open to change, listening and new ideas. As mentioned in the first point stated above, sharing and being open to the online world allows teachers and students to connect with a much larger audience to gain new ideas and new perspectives on certain topics!
  3. The third point that was stated to support this argument looks at the importance and benefits of documented learning. Documented learning allows for the exploration of both the students and the teachers and gives the opportunity for the students work and accomplishments to be recognized by other individuals other than the teacher. For example through classroom blogs, class twitter, and other resources that allow students to get feedback from other educators or individuals (for example #Comments4Kids). Ashlee also made the point that posting work done by students opens up so many possibilities for them to further their learning and careers! For example, check out the book “Girl Code” that was written by two young women!  
  4. The last point that Dryden stated to close his argument was the keys to success. He states for openness and sharing in the classroom to succeed, the teacher must find trust, communication and be able to adapt to the needs and wishes of the parents and students. As mentioned throughout the debate there was a large focus on that everyone needs to be apart of the conversation when it comes to posting children’s work, personal information, and the picture’s for the world to see.

The final verdict…

Just like the other debate topics up to this point, the class discussion once again hit a middle ground. There are so many factors that need to be taken into account when deciding if one should post about the children or not. After reading this article that gave teen perspectives on how they feel about their school work being shared online, I am still left conflicted. Two students said their work should not be shared because they want to protect their work from being copied and recognizing that online privacy really is not all that private. The other two students stated their work should be shared online because hard work is worth sharing and it helps students build confidence and get the recognition they deserve. All of these points are valid, and that is why I have concluded that students work should be posted with and only with permission from the student, and depending on the age of the student, the student, and the student’s caregiver. Another important consideration I think should be made when thinking about posting students work is: on what platform, and how it is presented. For example, our class discussed the platforms such as educational blogs are suitable for sharing students work and pictures, but Facebook may not be as suitable and professional! This article is a great guide to posting appropriate pictures of your students and what platforms are seen as the most beneficial! To conclude, precautions need to be taken when posting information about your students online, however, I think it is beneficial for your students work to be shared with a vast amount of individuals if you have their consent!



4 thoughts on “Is it our job to form our students digital identity?

  1. Hey Sydney!
    This is a great post! Very detailed and summed up the debate quite well!
    I agree that these debates seem to land somewhere in the middle of each side. This just goes to show that the debaters are doing a great job and that these topics of debate are not black or white, but require a lot of critical thought and reflection!
    Thanks for sharing your ideas!


    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Sydney,
    I appreciate your honesty about being confused about the debate topic and I can relate because initially I also understood it as being open and sharing within the classroom walls. Great work summarizing arguments from both sides and recognizing that again the answer to the posed question is not concrete. I always look forward to reading your detailed posts!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hey Sydney!
    I was quite confused by this topic as well before reading the description. I think it was open for interpretation. Openness and sharing in classrooms is quite important and will be part of classrooms as technology is becoming increasingly integrated into them. I agree with your statement that precautions must be taken when sharing student work online, but it can be beneficial.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Hey Sydney,
    Great post! I was also confused about the topic (as I think many were just based off of the comments on your post) but our debaters did a great job with this topic. I enjoyed the diagram you brought into your post about the internet and privacy. It was a great visual to show that the internet is never private. You did a fantastic job summarizing this week’s debate.
    Until next time,


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