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Online Identity Analysis


Tommy Hamlin
EDU520: Digitally-Mediated Teaching and Learning
Dr. Linda Kaiser
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Online Identity Analysis


When in the process of developing an online identity, one should first assess the online

identity of others. This process will give positive examples of how to do things right, and make

the user think about things to avoid based on how they perceive the online identity of someone

else. The purpose of this paper is to assess two individuals with a strong digital presence through

the frequent observation of their posts with hopes of gaining a broader understanding of online

identity. With the information gathered, I will reflect on how to implement these findings into

my own PLE.

Subjects and Platforms

The two individuals observed are Angela Maiers and Donna Macdonald. Maiers has

been in the education field for over 25 years. In this time she has served as a classroom teacher,

instructional coach, researcher, author and more. Her current focus is on spreading awareness on

the value of every individual. This is an undertaking that everyone in the education field should

empathize with. Maiers is an extremely positive example of someone with a strong online

identity. She has a diverse digital presence and can be found easily online with her own website,

Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, and Youtube accounts. Each of these platforms are prime examples

of professional use of social media.


Macdonald is the Library Media and Instructional Tech Specialist at Orchard Elementary

School in South Burlington, Vermont. In her many years as the Library teacher, Macdonald has

been able to adapt to the changing methods of information consumption and is an advocate for

digital literacy for young learners. Macdonald takes charge of the Orchard School Twitter

account, library website, and uses her personal Twitter account to update parents, community

members and fellow educators on the happenings at Orchard School and in education in general.

With over 16 thousand tweets and almost three thousand followers, Macdonald is a shining
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example of how one could use a social media platform as a means to create a professional online

identity.

Data Collection Method

The elements of data collected have been modified from Zwillings (2015) 6 Keys to a

Positive Online Presence and Reputation. These essential elements that can be monitored are

frequency of posts, content of post (professional or other), and collaboration with others. The

methods used for collecting this data will be the daily monitoring of the afore mentioned media

platforms and the documentation and interpretation of the information presented. Significant

data is compiled into a spreadsheet which complies all relevant aspects of any particular post.

This spreadsheet makes it easy to collect and evaluate the impact of the data. The impact will

either be positive or negative and assess how it alters the online identity of the individual. It is

living document that grows as time progresses and will provide a variety of intelligence and

allows for a thorough assessment of the individuals online identity. The following tables show

the data collected for each individual:


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Analysis of Data

Maiers uses several platforms to maintain her digital presence. Each of these is well put

together and appears very professional at first glance. Here is an exapmle from her Twitter page

(Maiers, n.d.):

The first thing you notice is a professional photo of Maiers. The photo depicts Maiers as

she would look in a professional setting. This image enhances her professional persona. You

also see her professional affiliations, number of posts, followers and likes. The sheer volume of

posts (96K) and followers (56.6K) speaks to Maiers frequent use of social media as a marketing
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tool. This lends credibility to her organization and gives the viewer a strength in numbers feel.

Her sites also outline her many professional and educational success which lends credibility to

her current endevours and positively impacts her online identity. Without this information, many

people that visit her site would wonder about her qualifications. The following is an example of

the strong personal summary from her Linkedin page (Maiers, n.d.):

Leader. Visionary. Entrepreneur. Disruptor. Change Maker. Angela embodies each

of these descriptors with passion, commitment and fierce determination. She has

been creating and leading change in education and enterprise for 31 years,

teaching every level of school from grade school to graduate school and

consulting with companies around the world. Angela founded Choose2Matter to

bring the world hope by helping every individual embrace their value and

potential contribution. Initially launched to challenge and inspire students to work

collaboratively to develop innovative solutions to social problems,

Choose2Matter has evolved into a movement that support parents, educators, and

employees around the world. Her work in 60,000 classrooms across 100 countries

has rallied more than a million children who have banded together to launch 170

social enterprises and pass 17 laws. And organizations across all industries are

finding new ways to ignite the genius of their employees, successfully addressing

a $15 trillion employee engagement problem.Angela earned a BS in Education

with a minor in Neuroscience and Master Degrees in Literacy and Ed Leadership.

She is the author of eight books, including Liberating Genius,The Habitudes and

The Passion Driven Classroom. Angela is widely recognized as one of most

influential voices on social media today, consistently ranking in the top 1% and a
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regular contributor to the Huffington Post. @angelamaiers (summary page).

Maiers has a very diverse online presence that is extremely effective in giving her

credibility and getting out her message. The only personal information that can be found is

relevant to her professional ambitions. The greatest take away from visiting Maiers sites is the

importance of marketing ones self in a way that is condusive to profesional goals. Queens

University (n.d.) shares and article on professional vs. personal use of social media and highlight

the importance of how you want your brand identity to appear on social media (para. 7). This

article goes on to give specific examples of instances when an individual posted personal

information or thoughts on a Twitter account intended for professional use. These types of posts

are embarassing to the organization and can have a negative impact on business and reputation.

In Maiers case, she is careful not to post information about political affiliations, religious beliefs

or personal information. This type of information is not releveant to her brand but could

potentially lead those that do not share her beliefs to have negative assumtions about her.

Macdonald

Macdonalds online presence is primarily through her twitter account which she uses as a

mean to inform other educators on opportunities, policy changes, and professional resources. At

first glace, her Twitter account show a technological acumen. (Macdonald, n.d.)

Macdonalds professional affiliations, photos and volume of posts (typically five or more

per day), likes (10.4K) and followers (2,977) shows a frequent use of social media for

professional purposes. Macdonald makes several posts a day of a similar nature. The following
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are examples of a typical Twitter post (Macdonald, n.d.):

These posts are examples of how Macdonald uses her Twitter account. Both of these

posts show an affiliation with a professional organization. This has a positive impact on her

online identity by letting the viewer know that she is involved in professional organizations.
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They also show that she keeps up to date with the most recent news in her educational field.

Zwilling (2015) comments on the impact of these types of posts by saying Just the act of

registering on these sites sets a positive reputation. Occasional engagement and visibility in

forum discussions and industry activities establishes positive content to offset the random

negative comment that every passionate entrepreneur is sure to generate (para. 4). Macdonald

does this extremely well. Not only does she maintain her own professional resources, but she

shares and collaborates with others in her field. Macdonalds commitment to maintaining

professional connections and sharing with others makes her stand out as a true steward of the

profession, thus, enhancing her online persona.


Zwilling (2015) also discusses the importance how your actions offline should be a

representation of your reputation online.

These days, everything you do or say, even in a moment of weakness or in

private, ends up online. Its impossible to live one life and project another, so

remember your current or future business before posting that provocative picture

on Facebook. The Internet sees the good, the bad and the ugly (para. 8).

This is another area of success for Macdonald. Those who interact with Macdonald on a

regular basis hold her in high regard. She presents herself as a professional and a subject matter

expert.

Impact on PLE Development

Each of the individuals analyzed have many strong aspects of a professional online

identity. One particular aspect that is very prevalent in Maiers online identity is her ability to

make herself credible and relevant. This is something that I will seek to emulate when

establishing my own online identity. In my PLE I will tastefully make known my educational

and professional background as well as accolades and achievements in my field. I will use
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Maiers personal summary as model on how to narrate my professional background. I plan to

include some information about my military career as well. While this information may not be

directly relevant to the field of education, I believe it speaks to my professionalism by

highlighting my contributions outside of education. I plan to put this information in my About

Me section on the home page. One difference between Maiers summary and mine will be that

I will write mine in the first person. This way, readers will get a feel for my voice and tone. By

doing this, others will feel more inclined to look deeper into the site and receive the intended

message. Another key take away from the analysis of Maiers sites is her dedication to her

message. The common theme of honoring the value of every individual presents its itself in

nearly every post and image across all of her sites. This has given her a kind of brand that is

synonymous with her as a person. When developing my PLE I need to think about how to create

my own message or brand that will embody who I am and let this message be very apparent on

the web. My message will be focused on fitness and physical activity for children. As a physical

education teacher, my goal is to inspire youth to develop healthy habits; my PLE needs to

represent that. I will also keep in mind the positive impact that Maiers lack of personal

information had on her online presence. When posting blogs, I will be sure to avoid anything

that others may view as offensive or off-color. Maiers and Macdonald both use professional

imagery in an effort to enhance their online identity. Photos on sites should be in a professional

setting and should depict the individual looking as they would in that environment. In my PLE, I

might include photos of myself working with children or in a school setting. Macdonalds

dedication to professional affiliations and contributions to her professional field should serve as

inspiration to others when generating an online identity. One should seek out professional

organizations to follow, share, and develop a network of other professionals to collaborate with
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online. This will benefit the individual and the professional community within which they serve.

In my PLE I will share links to communities in the physical education field that include SHAPE

America and AAHPEHRD. It is likely that blog posts will be an appropriate avenue to share

these links or articles that are relevant in my field. The other take away from Macdonalds

online identity that is significant to my PLE is that it must be a reflection of me, and I must be a

reflection of it. Without maintaining a positive reputation online and off, eventually, one would

negatively impact the other.

Conclusion
In modern professional culture, the use of social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and

Linkedin to promote businesses, organizations, and individuals has become the norm. It is

important that use of the afore mentioned sites do not detract from an individuals professional

reputation; if possible, they should be used to enhance it. Through the observation and analysis

of the online identity of key individuals, one can develop their own online identity in a way that

is conducive to how they would like to be perceived. Maiers and Macdonald are both excellent

examples of how to create a positive online identity.


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References

Macdonald, D. (n.d.). Donna Macdonald Twitter account @dsmacdonald. Retrieved from:

https://twitter.com/dsmacdonald?lang=en.
Maiers, A. (n.d.). Angela Maiers. Retrieved from http://www.angelamaiers.com/.
Maiers, A. (n.d.). Angela Maiers Facebook account. Retrieved from:

https://www.facebook.com/angelamaiersinc.
Maiers, A. (n.d.). Angela Maiers Linkedin account. Retrieved from:

https://www.linkedin.com/in/angelamaiers.
Maiers, A. (n.d.). Angela Maiers Twitter account. Retrieved from:

https://twitter.com/AngelaMaiers.
Queens University. (n.d.). Managing personal vs. professional identity on social media.

Retrieved from: http://online.queens.edu/masters-in-communication/resource/managing-

personal-vs-professional-identity-on-social-media%20.
Zwilling, M. (2015). 6 keys to a positive online presence and reputation. Entrepreneur.

Retrieved from: https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/249053