How can you manage your digital footprint as an international educator?
As an international educator we can manage our digital footprint in the same manner as any other professional. We must constantly be aware of what we post including comments and photos as well as pages and blogs we subscribe to. We must always be cognizant of what we comment on and what others comment about our comments. We must also recognize what might be considered inappropriate by prospective employers. What we think is funny or posted in jest others might take offense to or interpret in a way that is not flattering to us. I think frequently we forget that Facebook is not only seen by friends but also by prospective employers. My mother always said, “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all.”
Teachers need to be aware of photos they post and are tagged in so no unflattering photos are seen by other professionals. In her article Your Online Reputation Can Hurt Your Job Search, Kim Komando says, “Err on the side of caution and remove anything that is potentially offensive.”
As educators we can make a positive footprint by sharing our educational insight and or philosophy on our own blog site. We can share student work and how we are using technology to enhance student learning. We can highlight what worked and what didn’t in the classroom so other teachers can choose to use or not use our lessons as well as give us feedback on how we can improve our teaching.
But most important is to NOT “friend” students!!! My personal policy is students must be out of school and at least 21 years of age. If you still don’t feel comfortable “friending” them when they meet these requirements then DON’T!
How would a digital profile help or hinder you if you went looking for a new job?
For the same reasons mentioned above a digital profile can do both help and hinder you when job searching. Compromising photos of you, disrespectful comments made by you, and questionable pages you subscribe to may mean the difference between your dream job and no job at all. “A large majority of companies are moving away from job boards and toward social media as their primary recruiting tool, according to annual survey results released by social recruitment software company Jobvite.” Titlow. This is even more reason to update your digital footprint and delete or edit anything that might hinder your chances at employment.
On the flip side one must have a digital footprint in order to secure a job in today’s world. Teachers can create their digital footprint by subscribing not only to social networks but professional ones as well such as LinkedIn. Having a blog site is helpful in order to highlight your professional profile with your latest professional development, unit plans, technology used in lessons, student work, and perhaps your own publications. We must update our site frequently as well so that prospective employers can see that we are current with learning trends.
Ultimately it is our responsibility as to what we look like online.
What then are the implications for students and how should educators be teaching them to have a positive digital footprint?
As educators our responsibility is to inform students, especially HS students who are getting ready for college, as to what is considered appropriate and what is not. We need to show them examples of what is happening to college applicants who have been denied acceptance due to their digital footprint. Educators need to relay the message that posting pictures of a keg party, in a bikini at the beach, and smoking (cigarettes or pot) could mean the difference between a college education and working a minimum wage job. We need real examples of real people who have been affected by posting the wrong things on Facebook, Twitter, and other social networks. As educators we need to educate and be educated about how to manage our digital footprint by reading articles like “Managing Your E-Reputation: Facts and Myths” by Katie Lewis.