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

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4 thoughts on “Positive Digital Footprints”

  1. Such a good point about student blogs being in a black hole that no one can find. So many schools try to hide what students do online because they’re so worried about safety and privacy. In fact, what Will argues so well is that we should be sharing more, and making our students work more accessible. Thanks for your kind words about YIS – it’s such a pleasure to work at a school where admin are so supportive of these new modes of communication, and where so many teachers are so invested and supportive. The work we’re doing with digital citizenship is definitely a team effort 🙂

  2. I enjoyed this blog, too, Sonya. I too feel like GMCS and I feel like OMGIHNOTOB! (Oh my gosh, I have no time to Blog!). I was at EARCOS at Jason Ohler’s presentation and he had interesting things to say about Digital Citizenship. Eventually, we agreed, we won’t call it “digital citizenship’ but just ‘citizenship’ because don’t we want to follow the same moral codes while connected or disconnected? Are they different rules to live by? Basically, they are the same, be kind, be respectful, be open-minded, be responsible, etc. Until that day, however, we need to shine a flashlight on the digital world and help guide students through some ethical issues.
    Kim, the Digital Citizenship week at YIS looks fabulous. You have gathered interesting material together to create thoughtful discussions. Thanks for sharing.

  3. I agree with and understand the need for safety – I think you hit it on the head there Marina – we don’t bundle our kids in cotton wool in “real” life – we accept that life = risk and we do our best to minimize this risk whilst still letting kids be kids and experience life. The same should be said of our ‘digital’ life, no? Great points from both of you! I’m sorry our paths didn’t cross at YIS, Kim – it is a great place to work! Give Susie a hug from me and say hi to James (he can have a hug too).

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