I am made and remade continually. Different people draw different words from me.

Virginia Woolf

The information available about digital literacies and identities often is too theoretical. We can take as an example the work presented by Engeness et al. [1] where analyzes the teacher’s digital identity from a theoretical perspective.  The digital identity is defined as a dynamic and ongoing process that involves making sense of and reinterpreting the beliefs, values, and educational experiences in light of new contexts and frames of relationships in the contemporary digital society.

Continuously frameworks, definitions, and taxonomies are created to picture the aspects that need to be covered when we enter the digital world. However, as many can already know the digital world is characterized by chaos. The number of platforms and services is continuously growing. The face-to-face rules are not applicable anymore. Any community has its own rules. Oceans of information and data. Anonymity. Hate and collaboration in the same space.

 The digital work brings the good, the bad and the ugly all at the same time. People are capable to find miracles from unknown people at the same time others only find hate.

Therefore, we can agree that the definition of a professional positive digital identity is a hard task. Everyone wants to cause a good impression, but making mistakes is something that happens very often when you are new in any domain. The difference with the real world is that digital mistakes can be store forever and have the potential to reach the entire world population. Scary, isn’t it?.

With this in mind, I decided to dedicate the first entry of my blog to create a small practical guide about how to start to build your positive digital identity as an educator.

1.    The Need of a Positive Identity

But…  First things first. Why do we need a professional positive digital identity?

Our digital identity is often seen as an extension of our CV. Some employers may look online as part of their recruitment process to find out a bit more about the job candidates [2].

 Use of the social media during recruitment processes [2]

Professional networks are created also base on digital identities and affect your career opportunities. This applies especially to scholar and educators that are seen by the society as role models for their students.  What is posted on the internet can have repercussions on your future and how others perceive you.

In addition, several benefits can be obtained from actively developing and managing our digital footprint [3]. For example, we can showcase our work, build our networks, enhance our employment prospects or promote “digital citizenship” by behaving responsibly to set a good example, sharing useful resources, raising awareness of, or support for, good causes, and calling out fake news.

2.    Avoid a Negative Image

There are some very basic things that can be done to avoid negative image:

  • The first rule should be always to think before posting. Think about the implications and how that can affect you or the people involved.  A good resource that can be used is the STEP approach presented in [4]. The STEP approach includes four stages: Stop before posting, Think what you want to say, Empathize with your audience and Post.
  • Choose wisely your email address and user names. Your name or address is the way that others will interact with you and they can affect your digital identity.
  •  Avoid the following points:
    • Unacceptable behaviors and attitudes (Racism, sexism, or homophobic behaviors)
    • Illegal behavior or activity
    • Negative comments about your workplace or colleagues.
    • Online bullying, trolling, or hating.
    • Not following the etiquette and rules of a site or service.

Some of these points could sound pretty obvious right? However (and unfortunately) often people feel that the rules that we apply every day in the RL interactions are not applicable when they are in front of a screen. We need to fight against these unacceptable behaviors and guide with the example.  Always post form the respect.

3. Management of the Already Created Identities

The next step is to manage the already created identifies and analyze what is the image that is projecting. 

A way to do that is through the following questions [5]:

  1. Did I use my real identity or name for these posts or content? 
  2.  Am I happy for these to be part of my emerging digital identity? 
  3. Do I need to keep these separate from my professional or work-related identity? 
  4. Has someone else already had an impact on my digital identity? 
  5.  Can I remove anything that I am not very happy with?

If you are happy with your emerging or existing digital identity then you simply need to enhance and build on what you have started. If you are not happy, try to take steps now to remove any content that you are not happy with.

If you want to maintain your personal life separate from the professional life is recommended to separate also the professional and personal digital identities. This guide focuses on the professional identity exclusively, but you have to remember that despite what you consider a clear separation between professional and personal, maybe is not so clear for others. Be careful with the content that you post in any case.

4.     Select the spaces that you are going to use

One of the most important steps is to decide where you will be actively participating. In order to choose the right places is necessary that you spend some time understanding their goals, mechanisms, and audiences. The Residence-visitor model introduced by White et al. [6] divides the sites and tools between two edges: professional- personal and visitor-residence. This model can be used for self-assessment.

Try to draw a graph that reflects how are you currently use the different sites and tools, and also include what you would like to add or change to enforce a positive digital identity. You can use it as a guide for yourself.

Some examples of professional sites that can be used to build a positive professional digital identity are: 

  • LinkedIn
  • E-mail discussion lists 
  • Twitter 
  • Blogs
  • Orcid,  Research gate ( researchers)
  • Slack, MS Teams (Within a group)
  • GitHub, data overflow  (Programing community)
  • Canvas, Moodle, ( University educators)

5.    Create your Online Profile

Once that you have a clear idea of which sites you want to use and in which you want to actively participate the next step is to create an online profile on each site.

There are some steps that you could do to get ready more easily:

  • Sign up with relevant services – As soon as you create a new profile on a service you have added an element to your digital identity. By contributing to social networking services you start to build your profile.
  • Follow other people. Create a network! – One of the best benefits that the internet is providing us is the possibility to connect with people that are all around the world. Use this feature to follow relevant people for your work.
  • Connect your different accounts – When you connect your accounts for different sites you can share content from one to another which facilitates the construction of a consistent identity and also helps others to follow your work on different platforms.
  • Share content from other people – You can share the content that you like and agree with. It is a way to show your interests and give credibility to others. It is also an easy way to break the ice.
  • Create your own content – To actually build your own digital identity you need to create your own content. The content has to reflect what you think and be consistent over time.

If we want to build a healthy, positive, and balance digital identity without making big mistakes and take too many risks we need to reflect and self-assess what we are doing.

The following questions can be used for this purpose [4]:

  1. What information am I sharing?
    1. Consider what you post.
    2. Check your online profile regularly.
    3. Personalize your settings
  2. How secure is it?
    1. Make strong passwords.
    2. Change passwords regularly.
    3. Don’t trust all sites
  3. Whom am I sharing it with?
    1. Need-to-know basis
    2. Consider secondary uses
    3. Open networks are not secure networks.
  4. What am I leaving behind?
    1. Assume that your digital footprint lasts forever
  5. What are my rights?
    1. Know the law
    2. Review terms and conditions

6.    Manage your Identity

In the same way that our career and curriculum evolves and changes over time, our digital identity also changes. For that reason, we need to maintain our digital identity positive and consistent. 

Keep it up to date – Keep it consistent- keep it secure – keep it positive


[1] Engeness, Irina. “Developing teachers’ digital identity: towards the pedagogic design principles of digital environments to enhance students’ learning in the 21st century.” European Journal of Teacher Education 44.1 (2021): 96-114.



[4] Building and Keeping a Positive Digital Identity. A Practical Approach for Educators, Students and Parents

[5] Developing Digital Identities, Commonwealth of learning.

[6] White, D. & Le Cornu, A. (2011) Visitors and residents: A new typology for online engagement. First Monday, 16(9).

The development and management of a professional positive digital identity is not a trivial task. I hope that this little (or not so little) guide helps others in their way to address this topic. Personally; I think that writing this entry has been a rewarding experience.

Thank you for your time. Please leave your message and let me know what you think: How do you build your own digital identity?

See you in the next entry!

Cristina Paniagua, PhD.

Topic 1. Towards a professional digital identity