Friday, April 20, 2012

10 Days of building a positive digital footprint in review

We teach students how to be good citizens, but do we teach students how to be productive and influential digital citizens? With such a large digital space, many avoid teaching digital citizenship and literacy out of fear of where to begin. Unfortunately, that is a huge disservice to our students. By failing to teaching our students appropriate behavior and the power of their digital reputation, we hinder their careers. Whether we agree with it or not, students are building digital legacies--positive and negative. We have the power to impact and guide those legacies. So, let's start teaching students how to create positive digital footprints.

Over the past 10 days, I mentioned several methods to engage your students in positive digital discourse.

To begin, you need to be able to build a positive digital footprint for yourself. Then, you can guide your students through the process.

  • Begin by "Googling" yourself. All of the results that pop up are your digital legacy. 
  • Ask yourself these questions (from David Jakes): 
    • Do you believe that having an online presence is critical for you? For your students?  If so, how do you develop that within the context of your professional life, and for students, within the context of your school's climate and culture.
    • Within your school, have you had the conversations necessary to understand digital reputation and presence with all members of your school community?
    • Should students publish online?  Should schools help students create a positive digital record?  What if students don't want to publish their creations?
    • What spaces have you created that are safe for students to explore their creative and critical interests?  When does that space become permeable?
    • Should contributions be local first, and global second?  Can you encourage publishing if you are not living that yourself?
    • Has your school district developed the necessary policy to support student publishing? 
    • Have you protected your digital identity by reserving your domain name, and accounts on Facebook and Twitter?  What about your school?
  • Use sites like Personas and Spezify to organize your digital footprints. 
  • Become a classroom advocate for your students
  • Set up Google Alerts so you know when your digital footprint changes
  • And, blog, blog, blog...just as we tell students to write, write, write and read, read, read.
  • Build ePortfolios for yourself and for your students--it is a great reflection piece
  • Create Waves of change by using your digital presence to do good
  • Build your personal learning network and USE it! 
  • Make social networking a positive resource and not the scary monster it is often depicted as
  • Become part of a global community 
  • Take that first step forward into your digital legacy and use the Internet to do good--provide a structured atmosphere to start. Use a tiered-approach and guide your students to becoming active digital citizens.
Many school mission statements mention creating "active learners" and "responsible citizens." And, it's time we act on those mission statements. No longer are we just citizens of a city, a state, a country, but we are part of a global community that exists in the confines of a computer. We teach our students how to cross a street because we know they will have to do it alone someday. Likewise, we know our students will have to search and have to access the Internet someday, so why not teach them how? Digital citizenship is of the very most importance. 

Stay tuned for 10 days to effective searching techniques and Web evaluation. Like the teaching of digital citizenship and literacy, being an effective "searcher" and "evaluator" are important skills to have in a global community. 

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