I grew up with the Internet. I was there for the quintessential dial-up tone, the chat rooms, the MySpace profile chock-full of animated gif images and the best playlist the Internet could offer. I’ve not only left footprints, I’ve stampeded through the endless buffet of Yahoo Answers, gaming websites, and social media platforms that the web could offer.
My Digital Footprint
A cursory Google search for “Anthony White” doesn’t bring up much of anything. Actually, it brings up a lot of other Anthony White individuals, not many of which are me. Add “teacher” to the query, and you will see again, many other Anthony Whites. There is a nice article from a previous school I worked at, but that requires you to click on the second page, a feat many are not keen to do.
Does this mean I don’t exist on the web? Of course not. My information is most likely plastered all over the web, from COETAIL to Google+, Facebook to Worth1000 (an awesome website btw). Fortunate for me, in the early stages of online identity development, I was very strategic as to what information I chose to publicly share: none. While this served as a benefit to my desire to maintain a certain level of social anonymity, I realized I was doing myself a professional disservice.
Building My Identity
Portfolios, resumes, curriculum vitae, projects, media; all the elements that one could use when applying for employment. In this day and age, it’s become even more evident the importance of a digital portfolio when both searching for employment, or even applying to college. To be honest, it wasn’t until I started my Master’s degree in 2011 that I realized just how essential it was for me to begin building my professional online identity. I began to share resources, create YouTube tutorials, and contribute to online communities. Many of these communities and resources I shared were somewhat sheltered, or at least were accessible only to those who were registered for the community. For example, I had spent many tireless nights creating unique video tutorials so students can learn programs like Photoshop or Illustrator. Not a single one was saved to my portfolio. The videos were housed on the local server, never to be accessed again after moving on to my other job here in Alaska. I guess hindsight really is 20/20.
Growing Up Digital
There’s not doubt the generation of students we are currently teaching have access to technology, whether at home or in the classroom. With this technology comes a great responsibility, to both use the resources apropraitely and to create quality educational content. It is through both of these methods we can help students to manage their digital footprint, and set them up for future success.
Netiquette and Digital Literacu
Netiquette deals largely with how students engage with others on the internet. This includes the do’s and don’ts of online communication. Teaching students beneficial ways to communicate online, as well as showing examples of how not to communicate online can help them to feel safe and effective Internet users. Integrating lessons that show the Rules of Behavior on the Internet can greatly benefit a student’s future.
Building a students Digital Literacy helps them to navigate the many technology tools available for learning and personal development. Wikipedia’s definition of a digitally literate student is one who “gains the knowledge of the basic principles of computing devices, skills in using computer networks, engage in online communities and social networks while adhering to behavioral protocols, be able to find, capture and evaluate information, an understanding of the societal issues raised by digital technologies (such as big data), and possess critical thinking skills.”