The fragmented educator 2.0: Social networking sites, acceptable identity fragments, and the identity constellation
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Social Networking Sites (SNS) have been used to support educational and professional endeavors. However, little research has been done to understand the relationship between educator identity and participation in SNS or to examine the implications that institutional regulation of such media may have upon educator identity. Using grounded theory, in this study we developed a framework for understanding how a group of teacher education students viewed their developing identities within social networking sites as they began the life transition to becoming educators. The theory that emerged from this study proposes that educator identity consists of a constellation of interconnected acceptable identity fragments, which are each intentional, authentic, transitional, necessarily incomplete, and socially-constructed and - responsive. This view of educator identity contrasts sharply with previous views of identity by highlighting the complicated, negotiated, and recursive relationship that exists between educator participation in SNS and educator identity. Additionally, this perspective suggests that educator participation in SNS is neither fully representative of authentic identity (as prominent SNS models imply) nor dramaturgical. These findings yield important implications for educators, researchers, educational institutions, lawmakers, and SNS developers alike, because they lead to a more sophisticated understanding of identity and online participation that is essential for developing mechanisms to support moral and legal judgments, professionalism, and social interactions relative to SNS.
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