I had the chance to speak with education students at the University of British Columbia earlier this week about the power of networks. I wrote earlier this year about my argument that being a networked teachers is one of the three key “must-do’s” for all new teachers. Being a networked teachers is about connecting face-to-face and digitally.
As part of the conversation on networking I spent some time talking about their educational digital footprint. For some very good reasons we have spent time in recent years telling teacher candidates about all the things they should not have as part of their digital footprint. We remind them to lock-down their privacy on Facebook, to remove the photos on Instagram holding a glass of wine, to take down the blog post they wrote about their wild trip to Europe and otherwise try to cleanse their digital presence. And we remind the soon-to-be teachers that everything they put on the web is part of who they are as a teacher. We also have serious conversations around boundaries with colleagues and students in the digital world. All of this is important.
We spend a lot of time with teacher candidates and new teachers talking about what not to do.
We also need to spend time talking about what those new to our profession should be doing to build up their educational digital footprint. I was in a session last week on young people and finances. The keynote speaker implored all young people to get a credit card to build up their good credit. I feel the same about all young teachers and their digital footprint – it is something they need to start building from the beginning. You don’t just “turn on” your educational digital presence, we are finding it takes years to build and refine.
And what were some of the concrete things I suggested they do?
1) Get on Twitter. I know this is simplistic, but it is a first step to get in the game.
2) Start a blog. Get your own URL and start writing about teaching and learning. Over time it will likely morph as you grow in the profession.
3) Post your PowerPoint presentations to SlideShare. This is about participating in the community. When you create a presentation for an education class or your class at school with young students, post it and share it with the world.
And of course, there are many more.
One of the beautiful things about the digital world, is many of our traditional hierarchies are blurred. We all can contribute and good ideas get traction.
When I listen to a speaker, attend a presentation, or am introduced to someone who I “just have to meet” I almost always Google them afterwards. It usually confirms my thinking but sometimes it gives me some different perspectives.
I know we don’t talk much about all the possibilities around your educational digital footprint, but we should.
Then when I Google you, and I probably will, I will not only be struck by all the bad stuff I don’t see, but all the powerful professional learning and sharing I do see.