Theatrically Digital: Education and Online Identity

Author: Nastaran Khoshsabk, Monash University, Australia
Published: August 16, 2017

Citation: Khoshsabk, N. (2017). Theatrically Digital: Education and Online Identity. IAFOR Journal of Education, 5(SI).


The dramaturgical aspects of using social media are applied in this study from a sociological perspective (Goffman, 1959) to describe the process of gaining a sense of self through learning in online-environments. The exploration of data in this qualitative case study sheds light on the theatrical dimension of virtual self-presentation which can encourage individuals to become engaged in interacting online and, in the process of doing so, learn actively though using social media via its unique audio-visual digital content. Social media tools provide a space for information sharing to fill the gaps when students are unwilling to communicate in face-to-face classrooms because of a particular socio-cultural context. The codes and themes from six months’ Facebook analysis of adult social media users were analysed based on the self-representation of the digital self with relation to their language and cultural background and its influence on the formation of identity. The ‘actual self’, as described in interviews, was being manipulated by individuals for different reasons such as its influence on their social/cultural identity and the development of the self-image. Increasingly, educators in all educational domains are using online social media platforms to support engagement in teaching and learning. It is hoped that this research, by offering increased understanding of the importance of online-communities, will have implications for learning from online contexts, particularly in contexts with socio-cultural boundaries.


digital self-presentation, cultural identity, education, dramaturgy, sociology