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Students' Digital Footprints: Curation of online presences, privacy and peer support

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Nicola Osborne

on 12 July 2016

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Transcript of Students' Digital Footprints: Curation of online presences, privacy and peer support

Student Identity and Curation
Footprints beyond control
Curating a more visible profile or professional identity
Privacy settings in support of curation practices
Challenges & Peer support
Further Work
Digital Footprint MOOC (#dfmooc)
OER materials supporting students & staff at UoE, available to all

Students’ Digital Footprints: Curation of online presences, privacy and peer support
Nicola Osborne, EDINA, University of Edinburgh (Nicola.osborne@ed.ac.uk)
Louise Connelly, Digital Education Unit, The Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies, University of Edinburgh (Louise.connelly@ed.ac.uk)
1 year "Managing Your Digital Footprint" research project at the University of Edinburgh (Sept 2014 - Oct 2015), funded by the Principal's Teaching Award Fund (PTAS).
Research focused on students' use of social media and approaches to managing online tracks and traces, and implications for teaching and learning.
Collaboration between UoE Institute for Academic Development; EDINA; Moray House School of Education; EUSA - Edinburgh University Students Association.
Research ran in parallel with a University-wide awareness-raising campaign.
Reported in more detail in Osborne and Connelly (2015a) and Connelly (2015).
Barbour, K. and Marshall, D. (2012)The academic online:constructing persona through the www. First Monday, 17 (9) [Online]. Available from: http://firstmonday.org/ojs/index.php/fm/article/view/3969/3292/.
Arthur Baxter & Carolyn Britton (2001) Risk, identity and change: Becoming
a mature student, International Studies in Sociology of Education, 11:1, 87-104, DOI:
boyd, d. (2014) Identity in It’s Complicated: the social lives of networked teens. Yale University Press, New Haven:London.
Briggs, A.R.J., Clark, J. & Hall, I. (2012): Building bridges: understanding student transition to university, Quality in Higher Education, DOI:10.1080/13538322.2011.614468
Connelly, L. (2015). PTAS Report: Digital Footprint (research strand. University of Edinburgh: Edinburgh. Available from: http://www.docs.hss.ed.ac.uk/iad/Learning_teaching/Academic_teaching/PTAS/Outputs/PTAS_FinalReport_DigitalFootprint_2015-11-24.pdf.
Farnham, S.D. and Churchill, E.F. (2011) Faceted identity, faceted lives: social and technical issues with being yourself online. In Proceedings of the ACM 2011 conference on Computer supported cooperative work (CSCW '11). ACM, New York, NY, USA, 359-368. DOI=http://dx.doi.org/10.1145/1958824.1958880
Goffman, E. (1969) The Presentation of self in everyday life, Allen Lane, London.
Meyer, J.H.F. and Land, R. (2005) Threshold concepts and troublesome knowledge (2): Epistemological considerations and a conceptual framework for teaching and learning. In Higher Education, 49, pp. 373–388. DOI 10.1007/s10734-004-6779-5.
Osborne, N. and Connelly, L. (2015a) Managing Your Digital Footprint: Possible implications for Teaching and Learning. ed. A. Mesquita and P. Peres. In Proceedings of the 2nd European Conference on Social Media ECSM 2016, 9-10th July. School of Accounting and Administration at the Polytechnic Institute of Porto, Portugal. Academic Conferences and Publishing International Ltd., Reading UK.
Osborne, N. and Connelly, L. (2015b) Student identities in transition: social media experiences, curation, and implications for higher education. Presented at Social Media for Learning in Higher Education Conference 2015, 18th December. Sheffield Hallam University, Sheffield, UK. [Proceedings in press].
Surveys issued (via BOS) to representative cross-section of students (11,000 per survey) across all cohorts: undergraduate; taught postgraduate - on-campus and online distance learning; PGR; PhD.
Survey 1 (Oct 2014) responses: n = 587
Survey 2 (May 2015) responses: n = 870

Two guided lab sessions ran in early 2015.

Sequence of ethnographic tracing (Hine 2000) sessions conducted with students (n = 6), with 15 interviews in total.

Qualitative and thematic analysis of the data, with some supporting Quantitative analysis (ongoing).
Students reported on footprints beyond their own definition of self, those left by others, the "Uncontrollable Self" (Barbour and Marshall, 2012)
YikYak for teaching, learning & assessment project (begins Sept 2016).
EDINA External Digital Footprint Consultancy running as pilot service
Further Digital Footprints surveys planned annually.
Research will take place with participants in the new Digital Footprint MOOC (late summer 2016).
Coming very soon. Find out more, including how to be part of it, in the poster session (Wednesday 10am).
(Interview participant 5)
"...I think it's more because I trust the people that I'm friends on Facebook so I'm picky about who I allow to put things on my wall... my boundaries are more set about who I allow to be my friend"
Students at university engage in a liminal process (Meyer & Land 2005) with transformative experiences and identity shift (Briggs, Clark & Hall 2011, Baxter and Britton, 2001, etc.)

Accompanying identity play (Farnham and Churchill 2011) and presentation of multiple selves at once (Goffman 1969) takes place, reflected in Social Media tactics.

Curation does not neccassarily produce coherent or conventional digital tracks and traces. As social media affordances change, boyd (2014) observes that young people are developing new identities online, presenting themselves in new and changing ways...

"Regardless of the reason, the outcome is a hodgepodge of online identities that leave plenty of room for interpretation. And in doing so, teens both interpret and produce the social contexts in which they are inhabiting"
(boyd 2014, p.38)
"I keep my tumblr completely separate just in case I need a place to vent about friends/drama/politics/etc..."
(Participant, Survey 2)
Curation Tactics in Practice
(Participant, Survey 1)
"My twitter, especially in the past, was more personal and I don't think family would appreciate that. Context is crucial, and that can be lost after time."
17% of all survey participants report something online that they would not want (some) others to see.
76% did not/were not aware of anything like this.
7% of survey participants did not know or had not thought about this before...
At the same time: 9% had deleted a post to avoid upsetting others

Reported approaches are highly individual, sometimes including deliberate separation in the face of "incompatible faces" (Farnham and Churchill 2011, p. 362).
11% of survey participants reported unwanted tagging of photos
11% reported unwanted comments
5% reporting finding information online about themselves that they were not aware was online
"...there are some badly translated texts online with my name on them, I did that work when I was starting uni so I am ashamed of if. I wish it wasn't there."

(Participant, Survey 1)
"Don't have contact with my parents, but unfortunately, if they googled me, they would be able to find my place of study and what I study."
(Participant, Survey 2)
"...to be completely honest, I can't imagine a job, these days, in any kind of high profile job where your online presence wouldn't matter"
(Participant 2, Interview 2)
"...it is a good balance between professional but also showing that you are an outgoing kind of a person"

"the most important thing is number one have a photograph that's you and that doesn't look unprofessional"
(Interview Participant 6 - talking about LinkedIn and looking professional online)
(Interview Participant 6)
Of our survey participants (both surveys):
61% rarely change or update their privacy settings.
24% change their settings on a monthly basis.
42% use a dedicated email address for social media accounts.
48% use pseudonyms or anonymous accounts to manage their privacy.
Some indicated a "public by default, private by effort mentality" (boyd 2014) approach.

However, some social media spaces force identity disclosure (Brake 2014), and the stability of privacy settings and terms of service are not assured.
"Privacy settings allow me to keep private what I'd like to be. For instance I have a tattoo some family doesn't know about, and I can ensure they don't see about it if need be."
(Participant, Survey 2)
"Anything I post online is something I'm happy for anyone and everyone who I'm connected to via social media to see, including people I may not know (e.g. friends of friends, although the reason for using a pseudonym is to maintain a modicum of control over whether those people associate my online presence with my real life presence)."
(Participant, Survey 2)
"I am not open about my sexuality with most family and some friends. I don't know how they would react so I adjust privacy settings to hide certain things on FB, and do not post about LGBT issues on any on my "professional" accounts, even when I might like to."
(Participant, Survey 1)
We have created a range of evidence-based Resources in support of considered curation and management of identity online, including:
eProfessionalism guide & case study
Student Handbook guidance
Positive and negative experiences online were reported including:

4% experienced cyber bullying (no significant gender difference in our respondents)
4% had had their account hacked
16% had help or support from a peer
Anonymous spaces, including YikYak, also emerged as a useful space for peer support particularly around pastoral care.
Students are making sophisticated use of social media for complex identity management, and promotion of their skills.
Some students do consider future impacts and professionalism/profile.
Students do not mostly change privacy settings regularly. And it is unclear how many consider changes in terms of service, site ownership, data reuse, etc.
The tactical use of differentiated presences, settings, private messages present risk of future disclosure which students are not always considering.
Awareness-raising activities continue to be requirements, though issues change based on the difference between our two surveys.
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