As we wind down with week 2, there seem to be some common feelings shared amongst your cohort. You recognize the importance of developing positive digital footprints – not only for yourselves but working with your students to do the same. For some of you, it was evident that this may have been the first time you really evaluated your own imprints through Google searches (what page are you showing up on?), or perhaps the Wolfram Alpha Facebook Analytics tool.
It’s both invigorating and daunting to realize just how many breadcrumbs we’ve left behind. Keep in mind that if you don’t strive to leave your mark in a positive manner, others may do it for you. That random comment you left on a forum somewhere may surface more quickly than the wonderful post you proudly wrote last month.
Also, keep in mind that tools like Google use highly complicated and advanced algorithms to determine your ranking. One of the best methods of building your name is to use the same name/username on profiles across services. So even if it’s not your actual name but rather a nickname, having continuity across blogs, Instagram, G+, Flickr, etc is very important. Keep your LinkedIn account relevant continuously rather than waiting until job opportunities arise, continue to use and interact through Twitter on a regular basis, and of course as you build up your Coetail blog, those posts will begin to surface.
Also note that it takes time – the moment you hit publish may result in a semi-permanent imprint on the web, but search engines only periodically ‘crawl’ sites. The culmination of these actions will take time but will pay dividends in the long term.
Here some highlights from your cohort.
“As for myself as an educator, I will remain aware but I will not stop living my life. I have my settings and I’ll need to trust that my friends are not posting in appropriate photos of me (not that I have any since the birth of my son). My Twitter profile is maturing much more as an educator and I like where its at. Also, these blog posts allow me to be more reflective and communicate in a way I have never before in public. I intend to use this to continue to build my PLN as well use this as evidence of my technology literacy and coaching methods.”
Laura reflected on the impact on students:
“I also think we need to emphasize the powerful things that can be done online and through social media, using the example of Alaa Basatneh (of the incredible documentary #ChicagoGirl) to inspire students and show the positive impact they can have on the world through sometimes minor things (and use that to think about the power they can have if they choose not to be positive as well).”
Erin echoed something that I’m sure many of us can relate to. How is the desire for more “likes” and approval driving our decision-making and time?
“I am guilty of being quite delighted from the “likes” I receive on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Am I intentionally posting things that will often generate approval even from complete strangers? Am I being my true self or a better version of myself? Do we all have to start worrying about our social media “brand”, especially teenagers because their future lives could be potentially affected? I get that we should have a positive online presence but at what costs? I don’t want to see our future generations or myself turning into mindless robots who are only out to please so we can obtain “likes” from total strangers, that for the most part are totally meaningless.”
Michelle asked some intriguing and important questions about the impact this all has on younger students. “Four things we can do to help elementary students understand what digital footprints are and develop positive online identities”
Steve finished his post with an exceptional statement:
“If we let our justifiable qualms force us into hiding behind Privacy Settings or into holding our tongue for fear of being too public, then we are the poorer for that. If we only communicate our fears to the students instead of our enthusiasm for the potential of humankind’s great invention, then we fail as teachers. Whether we like it or not, our students do not have a choice about engaging in the online world, so we must make sure that we use the battery of skills we have as educators to show them how to leave a footprint that enriches their lives.”