How to Curate Your Academic Digital Identity

curate digital ID

Reposted from the Chronicle of Higher Education:

Wow might academics – particularly those without tenure, published books, or established freelance gigs – avoid having their digital identities taken over by the negative or the uncharacteristic?

After all, no one wants to be associated almost exclusively with blogs of disgruntled students, Tumblr and Twitter hashtags like #IHateMyProfessor, Facebook hate groups such as “I No Longer Fear Hell, I Took a Course With Aruna Mitra,” and other potentially contentious sites like Rate My Professors. As an academic or would-be academic, you need to take control of your public persona and then take steps to build and maintain it. With drag-and-drop websites, automatic publishing tools like IFTTT (short for “If this, then that”), and social-media sharing, this task is not necessarily as time-consuming as it seems.

Take control. In a nutshell, if you do not have a clear online presence, you are allowing Google, Yahoo, and Bing to create your identity for you. As a Lifehacker post on this topic once noted: “You want search engine queries to direct to you and your accomplishments, not your virtual doppelgangers.”

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School: Technology of the Self?

tech self

Reposted from Forbes:

The Making Caring Common Project at Harvard University’s Graduate School Of Education, has already explained that students see how adults’ actions can betray the intended rhetoric. Studies show that while adults say they value empathy, compassion, and critical thinking, children learn to value achievement measured by grade points. This shouldn’t surprise anyone. Students read systems’ implicit messaging while ignoring the explicit talking points. When schools are run according to the conventions of for-profit organizations, we move with impressive efficiency toward a world full of graduates who mistakenly believe enterprising entrepreneurship is a defining value system rather than an important skill set.

Alternatively, we might understand that school is ultimately a ‘technology of the self’ (to borrow a phrase from Michel Foucault). Then, we would first focus on the systematic process through which we nurture individuals’ sense of agency, decorum, and responsibility. School itself becomes the tool which refines individuals into reflective citizens and prioritizes opportunities for emerging human dignity. Education becomes the structure within which narratives of personal and collective identity are contextualized using the intellectual structures and academic skills that we’ve inherited from preceding generations.

Thus far, however, we’ve unfortunately been brainwashed into thinking that educational technologies are neutral. We imagine that tablets and computers are merely tools that transmit unbiased academic content to students. On the contrary, they do much more than that. Embedded in every technological solution is a moral/ethical stance, an image of the good life, and a narrative of the idealized self. The worldwide success of Apple’s marketing is evidence enough that digital gadgets are not only tools with which we manipulate our environment, but also props in a performed identity narrative.

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