The impacts of online identities and learning environments on students

Yan Liu
4 min readDec 15, 2020


With the development of technology today, portable devices have profoundly impacted peoples’ daily lives and communication methods. Among them, users of social media applications on mobile devices are becoming younger and younger, in devices like smartphones, iPad, and laptop. Hence, the importance of social media in education has attracted widespread attention.

First, it is necessary to know what a personal online identity is, and how to build an individual online identity. People may show various online identities on different kinds of social media. Students need to clearly understand that the characteristics of online identity are a person’s behavior and reaction on a social media website or application (Understand your online identity, 2011). In other words, students can build their online identity, which may differ from reality. What they post on social media or the setting of their personal profile will determine how others think of them. Actually, there are eight main types of social media on the Internet, such as social networks, social shopping networks, and so on (Kakkar, 2020). But we are only focusing on social networks and media sharing networks in this article, which are two types of social media that will bring more effects on education. Therefore, it is necessary for required students to know how to build their online identity appropriately in different social media networks.

Online identity has many meaningful values for remote learning. On one hand, it is a good way for students’ self-presentation. Wangqvist and Frise (2016) indicated that in the process of building a personal online identity on social media, students are more willing to introduce themselves more authentically on the personal profile, including their identification of gender and introduction of their personal characteristics. This is very helpful for students to explore their self-cognition in online learning. The ability of accurate self-cognition sometimes enables students to set appropriate learning goals and know which learning status they are in. On the other hand, the process of building online identity can also help students to expand their relationship network on the internet. It is a good way for students to expand their relationship networks while creating their online identity. because Students prefer to express their inner thoughts actively in online communication compared to the way of face-to-face communication (Wangqvist & Frise, 2016). Also, many social applications will automatically recommend other users to students with a high degree of compatibility with their profiles based on the personal characteristics they fill out, such as LinkedIn and Twitter. Therefore, students can quickly find peers with similar background information and interests in a short time. Consequently, social media networking may provide a positive online learning environment for learners, which moves to the next part of this article: the online learning environment.

Different kinds of social media platforms will provide various kinds of learning environments for students. Some of them can be applied as learning assistance, and others can provide free teaching videos for learners. More importantly, most of the social media apps or platforms can help students achieve a fragmented learning mode, enabling learners to use portable devices to learn anytime, anywhere. Dabbagh and Krtsantas (2011) also discussed this situation in their article. As they mentioned, social media is one of the common ways that students can achieve the fragmented learning out of school. In this case, social media can effectively improve students’ learning motivation. When students use social media to learn, these platforms provide a highly interactive environment for learners. As mentioned above, students can independently establish their own personal online identity, and they can control the virtual world they take part in, which can continuously maintain students’ learning enthusiasm (Kumar, 2020). Thus, students can achieve immersive learning. Therefore, social media can provide students with an immersive learning mode.

However, everything has two sides. With young people sought after social media apps, many educators also worry that excessive use of social media may bring many problems, such as lack of concentration in traditional classes, inability to complete long readings or lack of sleep. Berukoff(2020)has mentioned many times about the issues of self-control for young students when they use social media in learning. Berukoff (2020) points out that play (using) social media will cause students to be addicted to their smartphones, which may interfere with the class and result in the decline of students’ grades for a variety of reasons. At the same time, Berukoff (2020) argues that most teenagers don’t have enough self-regulation to control the time they spend on social media. Therefore, Berukoff (2020) does not believe that the use of social media in teaching is suitable for younger students.

In general, the use of social software in teaching has both advantages and disadvantages. People need to apply it to teaching with serious caution. On the positive side, the use of social media can enhance students’ understanding of self-identity, broaden their relationship networks, and improve their learning efficiency. But, it may also lead to students’ lack of self-control, which may affect their study and grades. In conclusion, it is very important to guide students to use social media to study properly.


Berukoff, A. (2020, September 25). Who’s Concerned IF Social Media Affects Education and E-Learning …this teacher sees 5 problems. Medium.

Kakkar, G. (2020, January 21). What are the different types of social media? Digital Vidya.

Kumar, J. (2020, January 24). Immersive Learning: What You Need To Know. eLearning Industry.

Understanding your Online Identity An Overview of Identity. (2011, February 18). Retrieved November 11, 2020, from Understanding-your-Online-Identity-An-Overview-of-Identity.pdf

Wängqvist, M., & Frisén, A. (2016). Who am I Online? Understanding the Meaning of Online Contexts for Identity Development. Adolescent Research Review,1(2),139–151. doi:10.1007/s40894–016–0025–0



Yan Liu

Medium is a great place we can share our thought, idea, and life.