When I was a child, my mother said “I’ll love you forever and ever, amen” every night when she put me to bed. As an adult, the phrase “forever and ever, amen” frequently echoes in my mind. It’s sentimental and a little bit nerdy, but Mom’s voice is especially loud when I am talking with students about the good, the bad and the ugly of digital footprints.
Digital footprints are something that every high school senior, soon to be college grad, and hopeful job applicant is (or should be) thinking about. There are lots of examples of digital footprints gone wrong, but (as a UNC grad!) this is one of my favorites.
The Duke PowerPoint. Impressive for its detail, its lack of shame (not that there necessarily should be- No Judgement!), its predilection for libraries, and its “nail in the coffin” guarantee against future jobs other than those in X-rated industries or possibly a PhD in Sexuality Studies. I mean, her balance of qualitative and quantitative data is admirable.
Now that I’ve grabbed your attention with the “Once it’s on the Internet, you can’t get it back” factor, let’s turn to the positives of how online portfolios can get students into university and adults into their dream jobs. There are a ton of excellent resources online about students’ digital footprints and electronic portfolios. Here are a few of my favorites:
Teaching Children about Digital Footprints – Kathleen Morris, who is an EdTech goddess, posted this past February about how she is addressing digital footprints with grade four. As always, she is calm and reasonable about this topic that can get a lot of people HEATED.
High Tech High Portfolios – Every student and teacher at the HTH schools have a digital portfolio. It’s an impressive initiative, and it’s nice to explore the many examples on this site.
Introduction to K-12 ePortfolios – This is the workspace for an online course Introduction to E-Portfolios in K-12 Schools, developed by Dr. Helen Barrett. It’s text-heavy, but it includes a wealth of information.
Blogs as Showcase Portfolios– COETAIL’s own Kim Cofino posted about the process of starting to use students’ blogs as a place to showcase and reflect on their work. It seems obvious to me that this is where all schools should move.
Here’s my hitlist of what students should have in their digital footprint:
- LinkedIn. As early as Year 11, but certainly as they graduate from high school, students need to create an account to showcase their professional selves and maintain the academic connections they made in high school.
- Examples of work shared in an online platform. This could be through a formal portfolio, a variety of social networking sites, a variety of class blogs or a personal academic blog.
- Positive examples of their personal interests. Students are more than good grades, SAT scores and honor society memberships. They’re also readers, writers, actors, singers, coders, and gamers. Accounts with online communities like GoodReads are a great way to show off their interests and have fun.
As far as teachers are concerned, I don’t want to work anywhere that would hire a librarian without a thorough professional digital footprint. If you want to think more deeply about what digital portfolios for educators should/could look like, I recommend you read Kim Cofino’s post on Resume Redesign.
Kids and adults alike need to be aware of their digital footprint. Part of our role as teachers is to help them cultivate an online persona of which they can be proud “forever and ever, amen”.