In a world of global flows of wealth, power, and images, the search for identity, collective or individual, ascribed or constructed, becomes the fundamental source of social meaning. This is not a new trend, since identity, and particularly religious and ethnic identity, have been at the roots of meaning since the dawn of human society. Yet identity is becoming the main, and sometimes the only, source of meaning in a historical period characterized by widespread destructuring of organizations, delegitimation of institutions, fading away of major social movements, and ephemeral cultural expressions. People increasingly organize their meaning not around what they do but on the basis of what they are (3).

Castells, M. The Rise of the Network Society. Malden, MA: Blackwell, 1996.
_. The Power of Identity. Malden, MA: Blackwell, 1997.



When I first started online in 1997, I wanted my students to go beyond classroom walls and engage in conversation with English-speaking students and practice the language in authentic contexts. At that time emailing, ICQ, and homemade recordings on tapes and videos inserted in cultural packages did the trick. They just consumed more time and money . We were on a dial-up connection - so every minute ticked and talked to my purse , I had to count on someone's good will to lend me a video camera and buy the film/tapes and post the whole thing abroad, which was quite expensive. To make a site online I learnt how to use Dreamweaver with the help of 4 high school students of mine for a contest. This was quite a steep learning curve but a fascinating challenge. Nowadays this social media makes it so easy for anyone to put their content online and talk to other people.

By working in collaborative projects together with my classes, I gradually made contacts with people in different networks with whom I learnt and shared my expertise. I started developing professionally and meeting other people. This exposure online helped me assert that "I existed" as a professional outside my institution. While at universities you are expected to publish and interact with other colleagues around the world, in secondary education (at least where I work), the focus is sticking to the syllabus, maintaining control and discipline and making sure the students have good results at the end of term. The socializing factor is almost inexistent and very rarely do we get to know who our students are outside the classroom, what their interests and informal skills are..let alone share ours.

in a postmodern world where the most important question is no longer "What do you do?" but rather "Who are you?" (Castells 1997).
According to sociolinguists, the survival of languages depends not so much on numbers of speakers but rather on will and transmission. Simply put, languages will survive if the speakers of the language have the desire to maintain the language and the means to transmit it to the next generation (Fishman 1991). Transmission has traditionally occurred through tight-knit communities passing the language on to their children. In places such as Hawai'i, where globalization and economic change have dispersed Native speakers, communities are experimenting with new media (such as electronic bulletin boards which can bring together widely dispersed groups of speakers) to assist in language transmission.