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?

  • Improving assessment, especially assessment for machine-markable question types (e.g. multiple choice, and others authored in QTI http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/QTI). Machine markable assessments are terrifically underutilised, especially considering the amount of time required to conduct hand marking. Anything that can be marked by machine and re-used with different cohorts is a terrific time burden off the educator's shoulders. - zoe.rose zoe.rose May 16, 2011
  • another response here
  • The reliable identification of contributors of all kinds in research, and the disambiguation of authors in particular, is an ongoing issue for which reliable digital identity will be part of the solution. I have always been a little disappointed that technologies such as OpenID are criticised (however rightly) on their usability issues in the use case of 'logging in' to web systems without much consideration of their wider potential utility in simply providing a reliable identity. - paulwalk paulwalk May 16, 2011
  • For learners it overcomes one of the objections to a more decentralised, PLE type approach to the use of tools (that they require multiple sign ons). For academics one important area will be author disambiguation on articles, so we can start doing decent searches and metrics around an author and know that the returns are the articles they have authored and not someone with the same name. - martin.weller martin.weller May 17, 2011
  • +1 to Martin's comment - andy.powell andy.powell May 17, 2011

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

  • Interoperability between systems (Raven to Athens to Shibboleth etc). - zoe.rose zoe.rose May 16, 2011
  • another response here
  • The importance of digital identity outside of the narrow use-case of user-authentication. - paulwalk paulwalk May 16, 2011
  • Interesting - I read 'digital identity' as the way you presents yourself online, not the way you technically sign in. Will suggest a new topic perhaps... - kelly.smith kelly.smith May 17, 2011
  • To reiterate Kelly's point, identity is about more than single sign-on. The softer issue is around having a distributed identity across many sites, managing your id, the role of context, the collapsing of private and public space, etc - martin.weller martin.weller May 17, 2011
  • I disagree with the description above. In particular, the opening sentence seems downright wrong to me. "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.". Digital Identity is about how one manages one's online presence and identity - which may usefully include multiple personas. It is separate from (though clearly related to) the ability to signin to services. - andy.powell andy.powell May 17, 2011
  • Above discussion points up to the need to be clear about what we would or would not include in this section in terms of authentication and identifiers vs./also online presence. Both are pretty critical - josie.fraser josie.fraser May 18, 2011
  • Whether .tel has any relevance ... or not? - david.harrison david.harrison May 18, 2011

(3) What do you see as the potential impact of this technology on teaching, learning, research or information management within the next five years?

  • I'm not entirely convinced that education should be running a parallel system to the rest of the internet (e.g. by Raven Athens Shibboleth), but I can see a lot of value in keeping educational data separate from personal, owner-controlled data. Raven etc are only really useful in a VLE environment, so it depends on if we all keep using VLEs, which I sincerely hope we do not.
  • another response here
  • Broadening this to include research (I hope this is OK?) - solving the author disambiguation problem would have far-reaching impact. Digital identity is not the entire story with this problem but it is a crucial part of it.
  • Being able to move seamlessly between tools and have data passed would make the vision of a PLE more realisable, which would have a big impact on how we teach subjects. Also solving author disambiguation would mean we can get back good metrics for outputs which might automate some of the process around things like the REF. One could imagine a dynamically generated CV for instance - martin.weller martin.weller May 17, 2011

(4) Do you have or know of a project working in this area?

and http://issuu.com/fleapalmer/docs/ego - neil.witt neil.witt May 19, 2011
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