I was looking through an old website to resurrect an old class. What I didn’t expect to find was this picture of me with beard and an extra 60lbs. This flash from the past drove the point home that the Internet never does forget. Like an old photo album, this can bring back great memories, but it can also lead to significant embarrassment for some.
I often have students post assignments online. For years I brushed aside concerns about having their products available to the public. I put everything out there for the world to see, why shouldn’t they? The reason is that some of that material could be embarrassing or even damaging to job hunters. While seeing your English improve over the years is a great reason to keep a running achieve (portfolio) of your work, at a time when employers scour the Web for information about their potential employees, job seekers might not want their older products out there for employers to find.
This probably isn’t the greatest concern, but it is one that I pay more attention to these days. Identity management is important and only becoming more so. For this reason, much of the required coursework I require online is behind a wall. This doesn’t really agree with my personal belief about putting myself out there for the world to see, but it does put the decision in my students’ hands, which is essential. For those assignments that are out there for the world to see (Twitter, for example), I give students the ability to use pseudonyms (and instruct them how to do so).
What I love about CALL is the focus on extending learning outside of the classroom. I still believe this is a wonderful goal for teachers and students. However, we really do have to consider their feelings on the subject. Give them the opportunity to participate, but also give them the possibility to do so on the down-low.