This week I made a self-realization… I’m a cynical pessimist. Okay that may be a tad extreme, but there were definitely some “glass half empty” moments. I realized that when I hear “digital footprint”, I have a deficit-based mindset, in that I assume the worst in terms of what people put out into the digital world. I came to this conclusion when we were tasked with the “Digital Sleuthing Activity” (which was awesome!!) Immediately upon commencing my detective work, I thought, “I’m going to dig up something real good.” I consider myself a bit of a Facebook Creeping Aficionado, and I was certain that I was going to dig up every bit of dirt there was to dig up on this poor social experiment volunteer.
Fortunately, what I came to realize was that this American high school tech. teacher, had done an outstanding job of censoring her online presence to the point that there was no real dirt to speak of. In fact, through images of folk fests, beer tastings, and adorable pictures of her toddler, I’m pretty sure we could be best friends! I very much appreciated that while maintaining her professional appeal, she still came across as a very authentic, approachable, and fun-loving individual. Censorship does not have to pretentious and boring!!
This brings me to my second revelation (and no I don’t have a revelation every time that I study!). What if we worked with our students to develop their digital footprint in the same way that we work with them on goal-setting? As Jocelyn Carr alluded to, perhaps digital footprints can be more accurately referred to as digital tattoos, due to their permanence. As was stated during this week’s class, “Be the person you want to present to the world”. Through education, why don’t we embrace our students’ technological activism, and utilize it as a platform to discuss personal, educational, and social goals. As Wendy explored in her blog, technology should be embedded throughout the classroom and curriculum to “invent, design, create, and build”. In addition, Megan discussed the importance of classroom teachers being proactive vs. reactive in terms of preparing our students for society.
As the mother of an almost two-year old son, I am already aware of his emerging digital footprint. As a parent, I want to ensure that when he “takes over” his digital identity, I’ve created a solid foundation that includes, a pictorial “scrapbook” of positive travel experiences, personal accomplishments, and depicts a strong, and loving social support system. I want him to understand the care that I put into developing his online presence, and hope that he builds on it with the same thoughtfulness. I believe that these same ideas can carry over to our classrooms, and our students, in guiding and assisting them in the development of their own digital footprint.