When I started my job at the International School of Myanmar we had a couple days of orientation. One of the subjects that was discussed was “friending” students on Facebook. I assume that this subject was being brought up because there have been problems in the past with students seeing inappropriate photos of teachers. My principal explained that if she is friends with another teacher, and that teacher accepts a student as a friend they have access to possible seeing pictures of her. To be honest I had not thought about this problem. A couple months later I was “friended” by two former students, and I had to stop and think about what my students would be seeing, aka my digital footprint. I decided to keep my Facebook account free of student interaction.
Some rights reserved by andy_5322
It is certainly clear to me now that my digital footprint is important and needs to be edited from time to time. I attended the EARCOS Conference last month and went to many of the workshops that were technology oriented. Each of the instructor had trackable and impressive footprints. Throughout the presentations I could access their blogs, presentations, and interactive notes and question websites. I had a fellow teacher from Yangon ask me what a digital footprint was in a workshop, I was happy to explain it to him, and felt good about having an answer. Living in Myanmar my digital footprint is smaller than before. Regardless, it is clear to me that is very important to create a positive digital footprint. It certainly has implications for finding or losing jobs. I Googled myself recently and found a very clear trail of the accounts I have with different website like Edutopia, Facebook, Meet Up, Twitter, and other random places I didn’t expect to find a trail. If a my digital footprint is this important, what does this mean for my students?
Currently I’m teaching elementary students, and next year will only teach kindergarten through third grade. I think that introducing the digital footprint to them is important but perhaps not applicable at these grade levels. I think that for the upper elementary students it very important for them to understand the trail they leave behind on the web. Even with the connectivity problems with the internet, Facebook connects better than some other sites, and I know that my fifth graders are social networking. I think focusing on how to create a positive footprint is the best approach, while discussing how negative trials could impact your life. Next year I will be asking the fourth and fifth grade students to create a digital portfolios. Without being able to consistently rely on the Internet, the portfolios will be offline and using as many software programs as possible. I would like to encourage the classroom teachers to find ways for the students to post their portfolios creating a positive footprint displaying their academic accomplishments.