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Sue Waters

Yesterday, I was having a conversation with an administrator at our school, who is also a parent at our school. She has a student that attends the campus I teach at and another student who attends our mountain location campus. At our school the email address is their firstname.lastinitial. At the other campus their email is 023481380 (their student ID). We were discussing the difference between using names in emails and just number IDs. I was thinking it was fine to just use their first name, but she was saying it was not fine because if your name was Alice, for example, people online would know that person is a girl. Today I read the article, 5 Myths and Truths About Kids’ Internet Safety and this quote stood out to me.

Go beyond “stranger danger” and teach them what kind of questions are not OK (for example, not OK: “Are you a boy or a girl?”; “Where do you live?”; “What are you wearing?”; “Do you want to have a private conversation?”).

This is really important to notice when teaching digital footprints and online presence. We can teach our students¬†the difference between questions that are okay to answer and questions that are not okay to answer. We can also teach them appropriate times when these questions could be asked. For example, the art teacher came up to me today to ask if we could do online pen pals with her old school in Colombia. This would be an appropriate time to make online connections with other students- and asking questions like whether their pen pal was a boy or a girl. Reading this article has changed my outlook on how I should teach digital citizenship. I don’t want my students to be afraid to be online- being online isn’t all “scary.” It’s how you teach the individual student to act online – the same way we teach them to act in our classrooms and schools.

Next, I started to wonder about digital footprints and the questions related to this assignment. As an international educator should I have a digital footprint? Yes, of course! Isn’t that what the PLN is all about? Creating an online community with positive interactions and digital media that will have a positive affect on the teacher.

This video really gives a clear definition of what a PLN is. That’s the point behind this course, I know. Although, as I take this course I continue to search for ways to teach my coworkers what I am learning. Not all of them know what a PLN is and I can now share my blog post in order to help educate them! 2 birds with 1 stone ūüôā

Personal Learning Networks can help you as an educator by opening the door to many new ideas coming from all over the world! Like the video above says, the network is PERSONAL, so you choose who you want to follow and who you do not want to follow. You are open to learning anything you choose! While that is quite a positive outlook on PLN’s some other negative aspects are the fact that what you post follows you forever. There is no erasing something completely from the internet. That is where as an educator you have to draw the line between personal and professional. For some, this can be extremely difficult because they choose to share their opinions through social media. I don’t find it difficult personally because I tend to only share what is necessary.

Scare tactics like those my 7th grade informants described are not only ineffective at changing student behaviors (Online Safety and Technology Working Group, 2010), but they also prevent students from seeing digital footprints as potential tools for learning, finding like-minded peers, and building reputations as thoughtful contributors to meaningful digital conversations.” –¬†Digitally Speaking¬†by William M. Ferriter

After reading this article, I found myself thinking that I was quite similar to those students. Even my word choice used in the paragraph above (I didn’t go back and delete it), shows that I am somewhat “afraid” of sharing what I have to say because of the fear of a negative digital footprint.

As I continue my research this week,¬†I will finish with this quote…

¬†Managing your digital footprint starts with asking questions like: Who are you? What do you stand for? What are your passions and beliefs? The important lesson with managing your digital footprint is that everything we do online should represent who we are and what we stand for and we must have the knowledge that this representation will stick with us potentially forever.” – Teaching Kids to Manage Their Digital Footprint by Lisa Nielson

Because like my students, I need to first ask myself these questions! Teachers are the role models of Digital Footprints and we want the students to learn from our behaviors.¬†With that said… I have some thinking to do! To be continued…