Thursday, December 18, 2014

Using Pen Names as Online Student Identifiers

Many teachers have embraced the digital age and have begun to share stories that happen in their classroom with the world.  Maybe they are posting photos to instagram, writing posts on a blog, or inviting conversation on facebook.  Wherever the sharing takes place, the question asked often is “should I post names of my students”?

For the most part teachers are sensitive to information posted online.  They won’t put names with photos.  They won’t use full names.  Some teachers use a first initial only instead of any name.  

One idea is to provide a student identifier for each child.  Sort of like a students pen name.  What if you provided student identifiers using fictional characters for each student?  For example, students could be referenced as Olaf, Cinderella, or Schreck.

When referencing work posted by the student, the byline simply reads “by Olaf”.  When posting a name referencing an image, use “Olaf and Eeyore enjoying the snow”.

One classroom has students author posts on her blog.  Each post is signed by the student identifier.  Then the post is labeled by the student identifier.  Using this label enables parents, or the teacher, to click on the label and bring up all the posts written by a particular student.

Everyone in class knows who wrote it.  Whoever is Winnie The Pooh, their parents also know it.  Yet it’s a safe a secure way of not posting personal information about students online.

Maybe in high school students want to establish a positive digital footprint, therefore they want to have their names associated with school activities.  For elementary school and middle school, using a creative student identifier can be a positive safe method of sharing stories with the world.