Digital Identity Mapping

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This blog was originally posted on February 10th, 2015.

I began the multimodal composing course I’m teaching this term with an exploration of digital identity, working from an assignment shared as a Multimodal Mondays post. I asked students to compose a “Statement of Your Online Identity,” combining a digital image with a brief linguistic text.

To help them get started, I asked students to think about the personas they developed online. Informally in class, we talked about the ways that they presented themselves online (for instance, on Facebook with friends, on LinkedIn with potential colleagues and employers, and on gaming sites with other gamers).

While I felt students had the general idea, I wanted to give them a more structured way to gather thoughts about their identity. I found the perfect tool in a Digital Identity Mapping grid, from Fred Cavazza (blog in French):


In the grid, students noted the different places they inhabit online, and then worked from the grid to find the aspects of their identity to focus on in their projects. To simplify their notetaking, I created a Digital Identity Mapping form in Google Drive. (Make your own copy by opening the link, then go to File → Make a Copy in Google Drive). I encouraged students to type the names of the various sites rather than tracking down the icons, as in Cavazza’s image. The icons make a pretty and colorful display, but I wanted students’ energy focused on their project, not on gathering icons.

The Digital Identity Mapping form was a great supplement to the project. Rather than going with the first idea that came to mind, students had to think deeply about the different places and identities that they had developed online. As a result, students had more evidence to use as they developed their identity statements. They quickly went from having little to say to choosing among a variety of options.

I’m definitely using that grid again to get students started on their projects. Could you use it in your course? Want to share some feedback on my project or share another tool I can use? Please leave me a comment below, or drop by my page on Facebook or Google+.

[Photo: Digital Identity Mapping by fredcavazza, on Flickr]

About the Author
Traci Gardner, known as "tengrrl" on most networks, writes lesson plans, classroom resources, and professional development materials for English language arts and college composition teachers. She is the author of Designing Writing Assignments, a contributing editor to the NCTE INBOX Blog, and the editor of Engaging Media-Savvy Students Topical Resource Kit.