Student Online Intellectual Work

I’m struggling a bit with what use to seem so clear: how should students (focused on high school) digitally sign their intellectual work?

Up until the last few months, it was really “clear” to me. If students were sharing their work for class, they should sign it with their first name and last initial. But lately, it doesn’t seem so clear:

  1. If safety is the reason for not publishing their names, is this really a means of ensuring safety or is it a false front?
  2. If protection from public errors is the reason, are we really addressing the right question?
  3. If we are teaching digital citizenship, is an alias or partial disclosure the best approach?
  4. If we are helping students develop a strong, positive footprint, is it best to use their full names?
  5. How do we take into consideration professional publications treatment of students such as the athlete who has his/her full name printed next to their photo?

Bottom line, I’m questioning this long held belief (since 2001 when I first had students publishing on the web) and need the help of students, parents, and educators. Should high school students publish their intellectual work with their full name?

[Tags] education, participatorymedia, edupolicy, studentpublishing [/Tags]


  1. Great post and something I struggle with even in a k-6 model. I don’t necessarily believe its a high school only thing either. I could go on, but I’ll address your five points with my opinions and then think about it some more 🙂
    1) Safety? Nope, false front, even in middle school IMO. Publishing your name and a thoughtfully constructed piece is digital responsibility and authentic writing to the nth degree.
    2) Protection from public errors…sounds like a teachable moment to me. Edit…then edit..then take Grammar Girl’s advice and edit again back to front
    3) Digital Citizenship…aliases give students “e-muscles” and every time I’ve wavered I’ve been proven right. Share an account with a class and I can guarantee “anonymous” will bend or break the rules and ethics you’ve built up and established in your class.
    4)Strong Footprint = Full names (with parent permission of course)
    5) The biggest joke of this is in College where universities don’t publish athletes names on their jerseys because they’re only kids, but they make a video game of a player that looks eerily like #7, but no name, because then #7 would receive royalties and we can’t have that, now can we…too much competition. (tongue fully inserted in cheek) 🙂

  2. I think that this may also become an age issue. I agree that the development of a code of digital citizenship and a positive online footprint are important components of digital learning for students. Yet, at the same time, ensuring student safety is clearly an obligation if we as educators wish to keep ourselves out of the messy business of courtroom litigation.

    In my personal work, I have no problem signing my name to my work, writings, thoughts and opinions concerning learning and educational issues. I do however keep my own personal beliefs and interests private in a totally different corner of cyberspace that I keep quite guarded. Only the closest of my friends and family have access to that part of my online footprint. There is an online Tequila – Food Pairing guide out there that I’m sure some school administrators and PTA parents may find inappropriate. For good reason I keep it guarded.

    I would suggest that students under the age of 18 keep their identity as private / “guarded” as possible. If at the age of 18, the student wishes to go back and republish any work that they are particularly proud of, they can add their full name at that time. I think that the Web as a tool for creation, communication, and computation is a powerful tool/resource for students to publish their intellectual work. We need to encourage all students to publish their work using the current and emerging digital technologies at their disposal.

  3. Ryan,
    I’ve been struggling with this too. Things are getting fuzzy!
    Tomorrow at TIES our Key Instructional Contact meeting will feature a discussion called, “Posting Student Work and How it Affects Acceptable Use Policies.”
    Currently, the Minnesota State High School League requires districts to post pictures of student athletes with full names, or risk not being allowed to participate in High School League activities. In many cases this is in direct violation of the school district’s AUP!!!
    With the latest research showing that students aren’t as likely to be stalked by predators as Dateline NBC would have you believe, I’m more inclined to give students credit for their work. Given that some students are earning patents for work they complete in High School, I forwarded your questions on to the panel. I’ll be curious to see if they tackle any of them, and if they do, I’ll post them here:


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *