Talk about being caught off guard. I uploaded a review of one of the readings thinking I’d get back to the focus questions later and Jamie already commented on it! Oops. Thanks by the way Jamie. I also enjoyed your post.
This reading was much anticipated as one of my recent blog post comments was questioned as potentially damaging to a job search. As a professional, especially one working with children, I am careful to manage my Internet presence though feel this is something I likely still have much to learn about. I have known teachers who accept “friend” requests from students (ill-advised from my perspective) and others who feel it is “safe” to become friends with parents. In this article there is a Twitter quote from Meredith Stewart, quoted as saying, “…astounds me when teachers/professors only digital presence is Rate My Teachers/Profs page. If you aren’t controlling your footprint, others are.” This rings true to me. It is like they teach in business school on influence. Influence, or be influenced.
We are then urged to google ourselves. Not just once, but regularly to keep up-to-date on what people researching you may find. In order to add another element of controlling our online identities it is suggested that we “brand ” ourselves by picking a name and sticking with it and by choosing our “spaces.” Twitter and a blog are suggested and both seem sensible to me as they are simple tools and easy to update regularly in order to maintain visibility through search engines as a result of regular submissions. Google alerts is recommended as an effective means of keeping an eye on our branded identities once established.
A nice summary was left by someone obviously concerned with their own privacy, “There really is NO privacy, and we have to be so careful that any footprints we leave reflect positively on us.” All in all this was an easily digestible little tidbit about a very big issue that sets the tone for the second course in the program.
Oh well, now on to our focus questions in a more, well… focused manner. Should we, as international educators, have digital footprints? I’m going a different way with this. It’s been largely established that we don’t have much of a choice. The point now becomes, how do we manage these digital representations of ourselves online? The article referenced above offers many suggestions that we ignore at our own peril.
If we assume, as we should, that human resource managers and school recruiters are scouring the Internet to research us, we need to, as Brendan put it in our Tuesday meeting, make our positive messages louder than any potentially negative ones. I liked the comment that someone else made that, as kids grow up with this reality, their generation may end up being more forgiving of digitally preserved gaffes. Time will tell but this sounds a likely outcome as more and more people feel the sting of an unflattering image or representation that gets cached in cyber space.
As we protect ourselves, it seems only common sense to start teaching our students as well. I agreed with Jamie’s caution that much of what we hear is the frightening news; “Cyber-Bullies” and the threat of online predators. Certainly these are a part of the reality of our increasingly connected world but it is not just as easy to teach responsible behaviour by accentuating the positives of citizenship in any sense? The earlier we impart good habits the better but let’s not scare the kids unnecessarily.
Take a look at this video that further illustrates the issues:
I have played around with this a little and it has huge potential for creating for consumption and getting the kids creating. Give it a shot here.