21st Century

Positive Digital Footprints

What happens when you Google your name?  Try it.  What you see is just part of your digital footprint.

Creating a digital footprint.  This is something I have been thinking about for a while now.  More recently it is pressing on me to learn more, do more and educate more on this topic.  Here is why – read the following conversation between myself (STB) and one of my gorgeously curious and motivated students (GCMS):

STB: Hey!  What’s up?  How’s your blog?

GCMS: Fine.  I don’t want to blog any more though.

STB:  Egads! Why ever not!?

GCMS: Because no one reads it, so what’s the point?

Honestly, I have to agree with her.  I don’t blog so that I can check my stats and see who is reading my posts (ok….I DO get a kick out of seeing where my readers are from AND I like that WordPress is so cute and encouraging when I have a ‘good reader’ day!).  I blog for a lot of reasons:

  • to learn
  • to connect with likeminded people
  • to learn
  • to share with and give back to the education community
  • to learn
  • to learn
  • to learn
  • to learn

Don’t our kids want the same?  I learn when people comment.  I learn when I see posts retweeted or ‘liked’.  I learn by doing and by getting feedback.

Here is why my gorgeous student has no readers.  Her blog is like Fort Knox.  It literally is in a black hole of nothingness, accessible to no one but those with the link to her site.  No one will stumble across her work by accident.  The same is true of all my kids blogs.  They are missing that huge factor that makes blogging better than a notebook – they have missed out on having an immediate global audience.   Here is (in part) why:

In his article “Positive Digital Footprints”, author William M. Ferritter asks a group of 7th grade students at an international school in Maryland, USA what a digital footprint is.  Here is what they said:

The students gave me a definition right out of my worst nightmare: Digital footprints are the trails people leave behind when they live online—and Internet predators use these trails to track down careless tweens and teens. “At our elementary school, they really tried to scare us,” explained a group member. “It’s like they wanted us to be afraid of what would happen if we used the Internet.”

He goes on to quote technology expert, Will Richardson:

One of my worst fears as [my children] grow older is that they won’t be Googled well. … that when a certain someone (read: admissions officer, employer, potential mate) enters “Tess Richardson” into the search line of the browser, what comes up will be less than impressive. That a quick surf through the top five hits will fail to astound with examples of her creativity, collaborative skills, and change-the-world work. Or, even worse, that no links about her will come up at all. (p. 16)

For this reason – among many more – I want to make sure that my kids are ‘well googled’.

One way to ensure this would be to follow the very comprehensive digital citizenship program in effect at Yokohama International School.   It was not in place when I worked there so I can’t speak of it first hand but it is definitely something I want to investigate (and post more on) in the very near future.  Thanks to Kim Cofino, Technology and Learning Coach at YIS for being so generous in the sharing of your work!  I look forward to thoroughly investigating further!

Here is some more reading:

Positive Digital Footprints