Since I worked for a Software Company (2000-2004 Infopark) I always felt quite aware of my traces I might leave or I want to leave on the Internet. Will Richardson writes about it in his article “Footprints in the Digital Age” and defines it the following:
– the online portfolios of who we are, what we do, and by association, what we know –
Certain email addresses for different use were a must for me and also anonymous names for certain accounts. Googling myself was also something I did on a regular base. During my year of traveling I was writing a blog but again kind of anonymous and only friends and family knew about it. I always thought I’m quite lucky and safe to have a quite common German name – even my sister in law name is Verena Zimmer. It was not that easy to find information about me.
I have to be honest, I never really thought about my digital shadow. Sure I’m booking online, buying online, etc. but using fake names made me feel save. It’s probably even trickier and less controllable than the digital footprint.
My thinking changed for the first time when I spoke with a colleague/friend at my previous school in Seoul few years ago. We both thought about a teacher portfolio but unfortunately we never really made time for it.
My thinking changed even more over the last 8 weeks. I’m still hesitating and I don’t know where this is coming from (it’s out of my comfort zone and a change of my own mindset) but now actually I want to be found now and it’s okay that people find (professional) information about me. The exchange with other people, teachers so far, but hopefully sooner or later with non teachers as well, I highly appreciate.
My big question though is: Are we 100% in control of our digital footprint?
At the moment it’s this blog, my comments on other blogs; it’s through Twitter, Facebook, Diigo, Google+; in future it will be …
A digital footprint/portfolio gives us the chance to learn, to be inspired by others, to connect and discuss with like-minded people, to share and reflect on experiences and work, to ask questions, to improve, ….
The question whether we should have a digital footprint / teacher portfolio as a teacher is YES. Teaching and learning is a passion and any kind of reflection and exchange helps us to find our own position as well as to promote ourselves. And Vivian made a very good point: If we live an integer life anyways then we don’t need to fear about possible leaving some negative traces.
Future employers get an additional perspective of the applicant. Fair enough – they want the best fit for their school / company. The applicant on the other hand can convince the future employer that she / he is the right one for that particular position.
Maybe a good and productive match is even more likely with those additional information. But how will an application look like in near future? Somebody of Coetail asked this question before but I can’t find the post anymore. Sorry. How would you apply for a new teaching position or maybe even a different kind of work?! Maybe the way schools / employers will choose a new way as well?!
Realizing having a digital footprint has a lot of advantages the logical consequence must be: YES, we have to let our students know about those advantages. YES, to clarify the risk is important too. But even more important is that we as teachers emphasis the advantages and chances. Being online is a great chance for learning and growing, no question.
And it is Will Richardson again who puts it in words. As a teacher I feel we need to support the students to know
- how to find their own passions
- how to connect with like minded people
- how to work, communicate and collaborate
- how to connect with a variety of different minded people to get a variety of perspectives which pushes learning in different directions
- how to asks provocative questions to get discussions going and create new thinking
- how to choose people who are rather inspiring and with good intentions than harmful
- how to find the balance between being connect online and in real life.
When and how to start? I found several resources on the Internet, f.e. Lesson: Trillion Dollar Footprint (6-8). It really depends on YOU as a teacher, parent, friend, on the STUDENTS, and the circumstances. We shouldn’t negate and avoid that topic anymore, maybe just because we might feel uncomfortable. Let’s be aware and let’s spread the word.