Online Identity: Who Are You Going To Be Online?

Branding vs. Anonymity

When you decide to take your courses and your presence online, you start developing an online identity and an online persona. Some people don’t mind a public or even branded online identity/persona. In fact, they foster it. Do a Google search on one of my favorite branding and social media gurus, Gary Vaynerchuk, to see someone who has really worked on his brand.

It’s important to have an online presence and an online persona in your online learning environments (often Learning Management Systems like Canvas, Blackboard, Desire2Learn, Edmodo, etc.) in order to develop a thriving learning community and feel successful as a student and as a teacher. However, sometimes the tools used in these environments ask you to post outside of the usually password-protected environments (like social networks, blogs, wikis, multimedia tools, etc.). Many people do not feel comfortable with their pictures and real identity being freely available on the web. Thus, it’s a good time to reflect on how public you want your online identity/persona to be. 

I have a pseudonym that I use – desertjul. I’ve been doing online things for a long time so you will see that I have julz, princessjulz, etc. But now, I try to stick with desertjul. This could help me be more private if I wanted to but I have intermingled my real identity with my private identity and have included media of myself all over the place because I teach heavily with these tools and use them as examples to share. So if you want privacy, don’t follow my example! 🙂

Depending on your attitude about the Internet as well as your personal and/or professional needs, we recommend that you consider your online identity. If you want to brand yourself, use your real name. If you have concerns about your privacy on the Internet, consider a pseudo-identity, a way to interact with us and each other online yet remain somewhat anonymous. Or you might be like me and have a combination of branding and pseudonym.

Creating Your Identity

First, ponder a nickname for yourself. It may be that you want to use your actual name or part of your name or none of your name at all. This is the time to figure it out. For example, as noted earlier, I have a couple of identities you’ll see me use – my skype is princessjulz and a common moniker I use as a username is desertjul.

Second, you are also going to want create a password. It should be easy for you to remember yet somewhat complex. I like using a word in Spanish and spelling it backwards, using two unrelated words and adding a character in between that requires the use of the shift key, or using a phrase that I can easily remember but others would not know. Also, consider a password software like 1Password.

Third, if you want to be really invisible, create an email account attached to your pseudo-identity. Gmail is our recommendation. Hopefully, your pseudonym idea hasn’t been used by someone else. This is where you might have to make adjustments to your chosen pseudonym.

Fourth, create an avatar for your online picture. Bitmoji is a fun avatar creator. I have used Voki,  Second Life, and a variety of other avatar, comic, superhero creation tools. This is ever-changing so do your research to see what is timely.


More about avatars –

Finally, how will you remember your sites, username/s, password/s? You need to think about this and discuss ideas with each other and be prepared.

Now, you can use your pseudo or semi-pseudo identity whenever you are asked to post something online or in social media.

Of course, there is a lot more to consider when you go digital with your teaching, learning, and life, so make sure to keep up with what is going on. Topics like digital literacy/citizenship, cybersecurity, ethics & safety, etc. are critical for you to stay on top of.

So, Who Are You Going To Be Online?

Resources for Further Exploration

3 Comments on “Online Identity: Who Are You Going To Be Online?

  1. Dear Dr. Parra: I perceive your Blog has been enhanced in a very positive way. Seems like the compilation of published journals, thanks to your hard work and dedication through the years as a professor. I briefly went to your site and left some comments (could be wrong, I am not the expert) related to the following observation you provide:

    – create videos and edit videos as part of developing a narrative for their newly developing science identity;

    With this in mind, and since you decided to go public, I perceive it would be great if you produce some videos, instead of the traditional PPT and/or sections in your blog. YouTube could be your learning/communication/connection tool and I perceive (if you shared it with the general public) you could receive multiple-perspectives, which is the intention in my research study. I expect to learn more about the phenomenon through the shared reflection of others, I want to be unexpectedly surprise.

    If you decide to use this tool, do not forget that music plays a key role in keeping the viewers’ attention. You have a gifted and talented son, it would not be a problem if you persuade him to help you. You never know what you can do, until you try it. Thank you for sharing it.

    All the best



  2. Thank you for your recommendations Pancho. I should do more video but it really isn’t my thing. I make my students do such things, they are way smarter than I am!


  3. Good Morning, Dr. Parra.

    Thank you for your information on privacy because I know many people would hate to have their stuff online. I guess I just have one question, what if you already have all these accounts and you want to start using a pseudonym. I honestly think that is a great idea and would like to start using it, at least for school. Also, to remember my passwords as a younger me, i use to keep them all in a note book. As I got older, I went back and either deleted the account or changed the password to something similar but never the same. I have heard that having one password for everything makes it easy for anyone to take control of your accounts.



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