Digital Footprints … Can We Erase Them?

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 Teachers today, who didn’t grow up on the web but are teaching students who did, have quite a lot to wrap their heads around … and I’m one of them. As an educator, I have learned to “go with the flow” and “roll with the punches” over the years. There is always a lot to learn and we must take it in strides and with open arms.   

This question was posed to me lately – “Should teachers be actively blogging and have accounts on Facebook and Twitter? Should we be getting our names out there?”   

I would imagine that most people’s first reaction is “no way”. I truly had to ponder about this for a while because I have mixed feelings, but after doing some reflection, I have come to realize that we should be out there, and here are my reasons why:   

1) Socially, I enjoy being on Facebook because it allows me to keep in touch with friends who live far away, I can share my photos with family and friends, and also see their photos, I can chat with them when they are online at the same time as me, and I can read status updates to see what everyone is up to. All of these reasons are great until I start thinking about what it does to my digital footprint, especially as a teacher. So then I started reflecting on my use of facebook, and I know that I am extremely careful about what I post (I never use profanity, I only post respectful photos, and I have my settings created so I have a decent amount of privacy).   

2) I only started blogging over the last couple of months, and I keep all of my posts connected to education as a way to share ideas with other educators. For this reason, I definitely think teachers should blog.   

3) Finally, I don’t have a twitter account. I don’t think it’s a bad thing for educators to have … I just haven’t found a purpose for it that I feel is worthwhile.   

So, all in all, my answer to those questions is YES. The key to having your name out there in cyberspace is approaching it with caution while also giving yourself a great name.   

I recently googled myself, and several hits came up. This wasn’t the case just three months ago, prior to my blog. It’s interesting to see the changes in such a short time period. As I started to explore the links to my name, they were all related to education, which I was pleased to see.   

Every individual in the world is creating “digital footprints” and “digital shadows” in this day and age, including unborn babies according to this article, and they are here to stay. We need to be careful about what we put out into cyberspace. Prospective employers are starting to use our digital traces to determine if they want to hire someone or not. We need to be creating “a positive and strong online presence that we are proud of”, quoted by a career-builder website, and as teachers we must portray this same idea to our students. They are young and need to be taught this idea, and this link, connecting to an excerpt from Dan Pink’s video on motivation, is a great starting point to get our students to begin thinking about whether or not they are making the best decisions.   

(Click here to calculate your digital footprint; it’s pretty interesting).