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Creating a Positive Digital Footprint: Students' Roles and Responsibilities

Creating a Positive Digital Footprint: Students' Roles and Responsibilities


In this lesson, you will learn how to aid students in creating a positive digital footprint, safely and responsibly.

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Source: Globe, Clker,; Footprint, Clker,; Footprints, Clker,; Stick Figure, Pixabay,; Classroom, Pixabay,

Video Transcription

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Hello everyone and welcome. Today we're going to be looking at a topic that's relevant if you're 9 or 90 years old. It's called Creating a Positive Digital Footprint, Students' Roles and Responsibilities. Let's get started.

For two years I had a unique and wonderful job. I was an induction coach. I worked for my state's Department of Education and had a caseload of 15 first year teachers that I helped mentor and guide through the many ups and downs that come with our profession. My days consisted of observing them in action and then meeting with them to debrief what I had just seen. Many, but not all, were very young and just out of college.

During some of our initial meanings I would always share with them an article about how teachers get themselves in trouble for sharing or posting something online. I wasn't trying to scare them, it was to serve as a cautionary tale and generate a discussion about what it means to have a digital footprint. Particularly for those who were teaching high school, it was also a way for them to become aware that it's definitely a conversation that they would want to have with their own students. Years later, I still see many of those teachers, and they come up to me and thank me often for that important lesson about digital footprints.

Let's begin by defining the term "digital footprint." It's a trace or record of everything someone has done online. This information can be used to build a profile of you and your behavior. This is a pretty powerful message that needs to be reiterated at different points of development and even for ourselves as adults.

Users need to be aware that information is constantly being collected, some of it actively, and some passively. For example, a negative comment about your supervisor that you post on Facebook can be shared instantly with the world. That's an example of active collection of information. Passive information can be collected by cookies in your browser that create files which trace your web history and other uses of websites and equipment.

Having frank discussions with students is the key to this issue. Children need to recognize whether they are using a phone, PC, tablet, gaming system, or any other device to get online, there is always a chance that their activity and content can become public. So it's important to ask them the following questions. If we search your online profile, what would we find? What kinds of online activities are you leaving as digital footprints? Is there information about you online that you wouldn't want your teacher or parent to know? What do you find when you Google yourself?

So here are some tips to creating a positive digital footprint. Never post anything that you will regret later. It's not difficult to spot those who have made this mistake. We've all read that post or email and said, what were they thinking? Be careful when posting pictures to online sites and profile. People can use those images against you with malicious intent.

Get to know privacy settings, particularly those that come with using social media sites. I know they are sometimes difficult to manage and inconvenient, but it's worth your time. Do whatever you can to control who sees the content that you post.

And here are a few more tips. Do not disclose personal information, for example, addresses, phone numbers, credit card and banking information. Even if you communicate them in what you think is a private message, there's always a possibility that someone can gain unauthorized access to your accounts, so why make it easy for them? Never engage in online bullying or other acts to harass and harm others. There are serious consequences for doing this. And remember that online information is almost impossible to completely remove. Almost all online information is archived, making information retrievable by others.

So here's a quick summary of what we covered in this lesson. We defined what digital footprints are. We talked about the importance of discussing digital footprints with your students. And we looked at ways to make sure we are creating a positive digital footprint.

And here's today's food for thought. If you were applying for a job today, how would you feel about a potential employer looking at your digital footprint? As you reflect on how this new information can be applied, you may want to explore the additional resources section that accompanies this video presentation. This is where you'll find links to resources chosen to help you deepen your learning and explore ways to apply your newly acquired skill set.

Thanks so much for watching. We'll see you next time.

Notes on "Creating a Positive Digital Footprint: Students' Roles and Responsibilities"

(00:00-00:13) Introduction

(00:14-01:08) My Coaching Experience

(01:09-01:55) Definition of Digital Footprint

(01:56-02:32) Discussing Digital Footprints

(02:33-03:49) Tips To Creating a Positive Digital Footprint

(03:50-04:05) Summary

(04:06-04:33) Food For Thought

Additional Resources

Your Digital Footprint

Prepared by the Internet Society, this website helps students understand their digital footprint and how to create a positive digital footprint. The site is in student friendly language and includes videos and infographics that are easy for students to follow and understand as they learn the significance of their digital footprint.

The Power of A Digital Footprint For Students

This article from the ACSD journal discusses how in the Web 2.0 world, self-directed learners must be adept at building and sustaining networks.