Digital Footprint of an ant !

  Despite having size 12 shoes, I seem to have the digital footprint of an ant! As an international educator, I need to learn to  manage my online presence. Google Search checks on my name have always revealed about 80 000 000 results! I can never find myself as there are so many others called “John Oliver”! I realize this is a problem, so I have started to tackle the issue. I’ve read on NPR that I could create a more visible footprint by creating and posting lots of video attributed to myself. Unfortunately I don’t make many videos! However I do take lots of photos and create many drawings and paintings.  I wonder if posting thousands of these images on Flickr would help? It would be incredibly time consuming , but if I protect it all with Creative Commons, it could be worthwhile. I can only hope that future employers will use “TeachOliver” to search for me. That wouldn’t be enough to satisfy a potential boss, so I need to find  ways to improve my visibility. I’ve seriously considered changing my name by deed poll to add a middle name to help separate me from the others! I have just joined LinkedIn to start to improve this situation and get myself ready for a job search next year.My invisibility  may be seen as a lack of digital literacy or as a suspicious lack of information ! Either belief would be disastrous to my employability rating!

The implications for our students and their digital footprints are very different from my own. Some of them may come to wish for my current anonymity…My youth in the 1980s was a very forgiving time when natural teenage mistakes were quickly forgotten. Today’s students are burdened with the prospect of the eternal Internet! When they make a mistake or an error of judgment, there is often someone nearby with a cell-phone camera to record the indiscretion and post it online instantly. They then have to live with the vivid record of their actions FOREVER. In fifty years, a future employer will still be able to find the video and perhaps refuse them a job based on it.Of course we can remind students of this danger, but youthful misbehavior is hard to control, especially when under the influence of teenage hormones or alcohol! The hangover can last a lifetime …

Similarly, Internet browsing histories can be very revealing about the inner workings of a prospective college/job applicant. Visiting socially immoral/inappropriate websites will create a negative impression which will be difficult (if not impossible) to shake off.

Looking at this from an optomistic perspective, students can be encouraged to start creating a positive web presence which reflects the good they contribute to their community. For instance, when they take part in a charity fun-run, they could ask friends/family to shoot  video of them at the event which they could post along with a short description of their role and aims.

Social media encourages discussion and the expression of opinions. Long-term, a harsh comment can be more harmful to the author than to the subject of the discussion. These opinions could be used by employers to assess personality and ethics. We need to help students self-edit their online writing before they click “send”. Perhaps they should keep their personal comments to telephone or face-to-face conversations to be future-safe?

When using social media, if they take part in discussions, they should always have this shadow of the future in mind. So we can encourage them to use positive/constructive criticism. This will help build immediate relationships as well as impressing future (influential) readers of their posts. This is a deep subject area which is about citizenship and needs to be tackled across the curriculum over time. We can’t be expected to make much impact as individual teachers unless we are working together as a team, with a common goal.

Good manners and respect are the cornerstones of all societies. If we teach our students to treat others as they would like to be treated , then these issues would be less of a problem.

This entry was posted in Creative Thinking, Critical Thinking, Student Motivation. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Digital Footprint of an ant !

  1. Dana Watts says:

    Great title! How do you want to be seen? You could spend hours posting your pictures, would you like to be seen as a photographer? How about your lesson plans? Your thirst for adventure and biking? When I hear the name John Oliver, I think of all of these things. There are many facets to each of us that make us who we are. Which ones we decide to share with the world is really up to us. I am starting to rethink what I have posted so far in my career. It shows only one side -the teacher/educator side. Is that all there is? I also want to maintain a certain level of privacy in my private life, but there is more to me than the techie English teacher persona I have created. There are many facets to all of us, and showing an array of those sides over time may be the answer. It should develop naturally. As we evolve, so should our footprints. . .

  2. If it makes you feel better, a google search with parameters actually brings you right up there. I searched (“john oliver” delhi art) and your LinkedIn page, your Twitter account and your COETAIL page are all on the front page!

  3. Avatar of Adrian Adrian says:

    A well thought out post. I too have a minimal digital footprint. And like you I have been debating what to put “out there” to represent who I am or what part of me I want “out there” (personal or professional). You make a valid point about the need to have a digital footprint that future employers can easily find, but more importantly one they will like. For myself, I am not planning on any school or career changes soon so I haven’t made it a priority keep a visible digital footprint. But it is something that I can’t forget about either, because one day I will likely wish my footprint is noticed. Thanks for reminding the importance of this.

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