What is Digital Identity?

Digital identity management focuses on enabling users to create a single digital identity that can be used in any place where a login is required to access a website or service. It is not a single technology, but a group of related technologies and ideas. In the simplest terms, one’s digital identity is a method that allows recognition any place where a log-in is needed. A variety of different systems are being developed, and though they have the same broad purpose of creating a sign-on system that is convenient and secure for an individual rather than a company or organization, ideas about what precisely defines a user-centric identity system and how that would be implemented are still widely varied. Both Google and Facebook are positioning their systems to be the “home” of one’s digital identity.

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(1) How might this technology be relevant to the educational sector you know best?

  • Future education systems will integrate the best services and learning activities from a variety of sites. A common identity will enable user's activities to be personalized across those systems and for data about student activities and competency to be collected in a common student record. This, of course, raises concerns about privacy which I discuss below. - brandt.redd brandt.redd Mar 1, 2012
  • 'Single sign on' has been achieved in many schools as a network security process, as in corporations and the like. The difference here is that a single identity used in all media environments highlights the need for strong understanding of and development of social media policies to guide the students in best practices. Creating and maintaining an identity will be relevant to a life of creative and professional endeavour. The merge between network access and digital identity will be the next step. How students and teachers manage identity will be part digital authentication across networks beyond and within school. Creating a social media plan is becoming essential. - judy.oconnell judy.oconnell Mar 3, 2012
  • I agree with Judy that Digital Identity is not about single sign but its about how we manage our credentials that will be based on what I have learned, how I have learned, what skills (21st Century I hope) I have, and how I use these to progress my life/career into the future. In someway, LinkedIn is a kind of service that I use today that helps me achieve some of this. So in the future will a service like a 'LinkedIn' which will draw on my learning, skills, accreditation, publications etc and be managed by the learner be developed for education where things like verification of all of these can also be achieved? Perhaps, this is the Personal Learning Network concept rather than Digital Identity, but one presupposes the other.- garry.putland garry.putland Mar 3, 2012 I agree with all that has been said, and I associated Digital Identity with the Personal Learning Environments as well, thinking about how to create these and manage learning when students can choose their own paths and tools. - cristiana.mattos cristiana.mattos Mar 4, 2012
  • The term “Digital identity” could be understood not only as single logon or credentials but even include our whole identity on the net generated through Facebook, Google etc. - claus.gregersen claus.gregersen Mar 4, 2012

(2) What themes are missing from the above description that you think are important?

  • I am somewhat weary about such developments as this can be badly abused. It's a trade-off between convenience and lost of control over privacy. On the positive side, it allows for access to personal learning portfolio from different platforms, incorporation of resources as the learner encounters them online, quick access to materials/resources that best meet one's learning needs and so on. On the negative side, lack of transparency in how such personalisation algorithm works, ie. how they decide on relevance etc, can over-define/categorised the learner, resulting in the creation of a personal space that is too narrow and deep, at the exclusion of diversity within the space (and all this without the learner knowing that it is happening). Also, the way in which Facebook and Google does the personalisation are diametrically different. For Facebook, the primary tool is the 'like' button, so users tend to project their public self in a Facebook envirnment. For Google, the primary source of data comes for 'click pattern', which tend to reflect the user's more private self (eg. certain more sensitive searches done on Google doesn't get shared on Facebook). As such, these personalisation tools must come with carefully thought out teaching and learning interactions, apart from a health warning, that is :P. - horncheah horncheah Feb 29, 2012
  • The imagery that comes to mind is a clip from the movie 'Minority Report', where advertising board identifies the character, addressed him by name, and started pushing products that the company thought the character wanted/desired/might need. In a similar fashion, I can imagine the various online platforms that the learner gets into will push their various learning 'products' based on their prediction of the person's needs. The learning and exposure of learning resources can be very narrowly constrained. - horncheah horncheah Feb 29, 2012
  • A common identity introduces privacy problems as multiple sites can correlate your activity. A mild example was when I recently shopped for luggage on a website and, following that, ads for luggage appeared on nearly every website I visited. In that case, the observation of my browsing behavior was anonymous but if you have a digital identity on one site, that can be connected to your behavior across the board. Sophisticated users can use browser add-ins to prevent this but the majority of the public don't know how to do that. Legislation such as FERPA (http://www2.ed.gov/policy/gen/guid/fpco/ferpa/index.html) offers some incomplete protection while also placing barriers against valuable operations. Protocols like SAML theoretically protect cross-site correlations by supplying a different ID for each site to which you're authenticated but those protections are easily bypassed using the same cookie techniques used by advertisers. - brandt.redd brandt.redd Mar 1, 2012
  • Secure online identity management is not the same thing as a single identity owned and managed by a social media platform. Also the whole issue of API call-backs and data skimming needs to be discussed. - judy.oconnell judy.oconnell Mar 3, 2012

(3) What do you see as the potential impact of this technology on teaching, learning, or creative expression?

  • I like to think that this will ultimatley have a very positive impact on teaching, learning and creative expression. Once we have moved past the technical access issues, learnt to manage the privacy issues, etc, we are then well positioned to focus on the ease of connecting, creating, communicating, and sharing transparently, intuitively and without the 'identity' issues that multiple username/password configurations create. - judy.oconnell judy.oconnell Mar 3, 2012
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(4) Do you have or know of a project working in this area?

Please share information about related projects in our Horizon K-12 Project form.