Yesterday I raised the issue of avatars and educators on Twitter. I follow a number of teachers, social commentators, relatives and organisations on Twitter and vice versa. There is a wide variety of avatars among those that I follow.
A number of teachers and educators that I follow do not utilise a personal photograph for their avatar. Their avatars range from comic book characters through to line drawings, second-life portraits, logos and animals. Some educators utilise images of themselves taken as children or even images of their own children.
Personally I have utilised all of the images below. My current Twitter avatar is the final photograph on the right.
I utilise a portrait photograph as it represents me. What you see is what you get. As an educator, as a teacher I feel that is the correct approach for myself to take if I am to blog and tweet professionally.
John Larkin: My avatar was once a favourite photo of me as a young kid but then I felt it was a little weird. Some might feel it is misleading. Thoughts?
Lyndon Sharp: @john_larkin Twitter avatar choice: room here for PhD research project. Quirky? Cartoon? Provocative? School Yrbk approach? Best portrait?
John Larkin: @lyndons Initially I had no concern regarding the avatar of me as a youth but then felt it would possibly mislead.
John Larkin: @lyndons We teach our students to be wary of those they communicate with as they may not be what they seem. So, what about teacher avatars?
Lyndon Sharp: @john_larkin Avatar choice *is* as yet unstudied. Competing interests: need fr privacy, desire fr openness & projection of self-image…
John Larkin: @lyndons this idea re avatar is interesting. What are we trying to project? One’s employment can have an impact.
Lyndon Sharp: @john_larkin I get th feeling people more experienced in Social Media tend to choose something other thn a photo-portrait: a small privacy?
John Larkin: @lyndons yes, self-employed, consultants, etc have more latitude on their choice.
Perhaps, at Lyndon suggests, this question or issue could be the focus of a research project. If a teacher chooses to blog or publish online professionally in an open manner should their profile avatar be a reasonably recent portrait photograph or not?
Some may even feel that a portrait photograph is simply more professional. At least a recent photograph. What do you think? Is this too retrograde? Too conservative?
Should educators consider the views of other potential stakeholders: employers, students, parents?
Perhaps an educator is blogging incognito. Their choice of avatar may not be an issue in this case.
It is an interesting question. A possible conundrum. As Lyndon indicates there are competing interests.
What is your position on this? Not an issue? Free country?