Your Digital Footprint… Your Responsibility

Everything you do online.. viewing, searching, blogging, downloading, uploading etc. is a choice.  No one is forcing you to interact online or have an online presence.  It’s up to you to decide what you want to share and the amount of privacy you want.

There are many reasons why people are paranoid about sharing information online.  Stalking and itentity theft are real problems; but they can happen to you even if you don’t go on the computer.   I find that most people I know who are scared about sharing online know very little about social networks or privacy settings.    Others don’t trust the security that big companies like Google or Facebook provide, which is a valid concern.  But, your home connection probably leaves you more unprotected than the security measures that these companies have.  Hackers are just the criminals of our time; theives have always existed and will always exist.  I think we should be aware of the dangers online and educated about what we can do to protect ourselves.  Don’t miss out on what the Internet, social networks and other online systems can offer because of fear.  As Roosevelt said many years ago “All we have to fear is fear itself.”

I have other friends who choose not to participate online because they’d rather not share life happenings with their friends on Facebook or Google +, or they think it’s a waste of time.  Others have become so addicted they feel they need to go cold turkey so they delete their accounts- this never lasts for long.  For me personally, I think moderation is the key to healthy online activity.

Social networking is not the only facet of online privacy.  One of the most important ways to keep yourself protected online is to have strong passwords and not to share them with anyone.  Don’t write them down next to your desk, don’t say them outloud in a busy room, don’t tell your best friend.  I remember helping a teacher edit their Moodle page in the library (I won’t name names)  and he annouced his password and asked if it was a good password.  A couple of weeks later, he discovered that he profile picture had changed to a distateful picture of this large man.  We never found the culprit because they used his password to login and change it.  To say the least he was very embarrased, poor guy, but I think he learned his lesson.

fat man on computer

Photo credit :

I feel strongly that we must teach students about privacy settings, keeping passwords secure and being responsible online.  Education and knowing how to protect ourselves online is the best safegaurd online.  Here is a Youtube clip about Facebook privacy setting, something all FB users should know.


The Digital Cleanse

What is the first thing you do when you are looking for a job?.. You go online and Google jobs that interest you; you Google companies that you want to work for.  Most people stopped looking in the newspaper classifies a long time ago.  Employers have also changed their hiring methods.  Sure you still have to submit your CV, but your resume is not the only thing future employers are looking at. Now your digital footprint is almost as important as what you put on your CV.

I had a friend from college that was a brilliant computer programmer.  He had his masters in Computer Science, and he had experience programming for multiple companies.  He thought he was set to get any job that he wanted.  His hobby though was his blog, which was a pretty distasteful collection of provocative pictures and clips, ramblings about conspiracy theories, and disturbing stories.  One day he decided to post a link to his blog on his Myspace page (this was when MySpace was big).  Months later when he was interviewing for his dream job in Hawaii, this post ruined his chances of getting it.  I can’t even imagine the embarrassment he felt when they brought up his blog in the live interview.

His experience made me realize how important it is to have a positive digital footprint.  You better Google yourself before considering to apply for your next big job and make sure that your image online fits the one you represented on your CV.  Here are some articles that might help you clean up your digital footprint, if it needs cleaning up…

How to Stop Employers Digging your Digital Dirt – I like idea #10 in this article

Google Alerts is a very handy tool for real time alerts about anything, in this case yourself. Punch in your name in inverted commas, set it to send you updates as soon as you are mentioned online. This way you will be able to monitor yours whenever your name is mentioned anywhere on an ongoing basis.”

Cleaning Up Your Digital Dirt  –Eve Tahmincioglu says “What happens on the Internet tends to stay on the Internet.” and it is true.  She mentions an interview with C. David Gammel, a corporate technology consultant and writes that he suggests “burying the Internet skeletons in positive cyber dust.”

“Gammel believes in burying the Internet skeletons in positive cyber dust. “Once the less savory items are pushed off your first page of ego search results on Google, you’ll be fine with most people,” he notes. “That’s why you have to post more, not less, to get rid of the impact of those skeletons.”

I really like this idea, because it encourages you to have a bigger digital footprint instead of erasing every trace you have on the Internet.  Employers are looking to hire people with positive digital footprints.  Not having a digital footprint is almost as bad as having a shameful one.  Having no online  identity tells future employers that you probably don’t have very good computer skills.  It means that you don’t use social media, you don’t blog about things that are important to you, and that you probably don’t keep up with the times.  The Internet is a free promotion tool for yourself.  Why not advertise yourself in a positive light and get that dream job.  Why not share your expertise through a blog, making your ideas and your knowledge more accessible to the world.

As an international educator, with competition for jobs being fierce, having a positive, and sizable digital presence is a good idea, and it absolutely can’t hurt.  I certainly need to work on mine between midnight feedings and tummy time – COETAIL is helping 🙂

Trying out

Photo Credit: pixelsrzen via Compfight cc

Google+ for Team Communication

Since one unit of this course is about Twitter and Google+, I thought I would share how the IT Department at AISC is using Google+.  Each member of our team joined Google+ and created an IT Team circle.  Every time we help someone, resolve an issue, figure out something or want to share a resource, we post it to the IT Team circle on Google+.  Since all of us have smart phones, we are updated throughout the day about what issues are being resolved and what team members are working on.  This is really working out well for keeping everyone in the loop.  It’s also kind of nice for me on maternity leave because I feel like I’m still staying updated while staying at home.

I think other teams at our school would greatly benefit from using Google+ in this way with their teams.  They could share ideas, resources and and classroom events with each other.  We could also use Google+ in the classroom with students and parents; however, students must be 13+ to sign up for the service.  It would be so nice if Google would trust school domains to manage their own user services like Google+ so that even the elementary students could use this with supervision of their teachers or with restricted accounts.  Maybe one day…

Here is also an blog I found on 12 creative ways for businesses to use Google+.  I’m excited to explore Google hangouts more.  Does anyone have ideas of how to use Google Hangouts creatively in the classroom?

Geeking Out for a Better World

I thought I’d get another blog post up while I sit here on the couch hanging out with my 2 1/2 week old son.  I’m so lucky to have such a wonderful baby.  He hardly cries and almost sleeps through the night already.  It’s so nice to sit here, read my Feedly feed and the COETAIL readings and look over at him in his basket next to me, fast asleep.

So as I was reading the “Geeking Out” section about Fansubbing in the report Living and Learning with New Media: Summary of Findings from the Digital Youth Project” pg. 28 – 34, and it reminded me of this online game I heard about called Phylo.  McGill University developed this game to get people online to help map out genetic codes.  Here’s a YouTube movie that gives the directions to the game.  Middle school and high school  students could definitely learn how to play this game and it might be a neat actvity to do when teaching about genetics.


Fansubbing and people creating game guides for video games all sound like a pretty admirable communities but imagine if we could get kids involved in solving problems that really do make the world a better place.  If more games could be created to tap into our collective brain power as a human race, the possibilities could be endless.

So as I was “Geeking Out” on this idea, I followed a couple links on Wikipedia “]” and  Listed here are a bunch of citizen science projects especially animal classification projects that take advantage of the fact that almost everyone now has a cell phone that can take pictures.  What kinds of projects and problem solving would kids come up with if we introduced them to this collaborative concept?  In our classrooms we could start small and have students work on real world problems that matter to them.  After a project idea takes off in the classroom, we could them share it out to the world and ask for other’s help.  We could even take this idea and start a database of UBD lessons that we develop for this course.  We could invite others to post other UBD lessons on a site that we create.

How are my thoughts changing…

Two weeks ago, I woke up around 4am to discover my water had broken.  I had just finished my last day of work the day before and I was looking forward to attending the COETAIL start-up weekend that very morning with Dana Watts; however my plans had apparently changed.

That evening on September 21st, at 8:03pm, I welcomed William Dakota Blair into the world, a beautiful healthy boy.  And since that day my thoughts have revolved around him; what is he thinking, what will he grow up to be, what kind of world will he live in, what kind of technologies will he be using in the classroom and in his daily life, how can I best prepare him for this ever changing world…

So as I start on my journey into parenthood, I also start on my COETAIL adventure. Exploring new technologies, new ways of teaching, and discovering better ways to communicate, collaborate and create all while learning how to change diapers, this is no doubt going to be an exciting time.

The readings for this week [New] Bloom’s Taxonomy Digitally by Andrew Churches, Connectivism: A Learning Theory for the Digital Age by George Siemens, and Living and Learning with New Media: Summary of Findings from the Digital Youth Project – “Messing Around” pg. 20 – 28 drive home one unifying message; technology is transforming the way we learn whether we like it or not.  Like Jeff Utecht mentions in his book Reach “No longer are there consumers and producers.  We have all become prosumers.  Creating knowledge as we consume.”  Teaching ourselves things by “Messing Around online.”

I really relate with this excerpt from Living and Learning with New Media: Summary of Findings from the Digital Youth Project – “Messing Around” pg. 24

“Basically, I had to self-teach myself, even though I was going to school for digital media . . . school’s more valuable for me to have . . . a time frame where I could learn on my own.” Similarly, Allison, a 15-year-old white girl from Georgia, describes how she learned to use video tools:  

Trial and error, I guess. It’s like any—whenever I learn anything with computers, I’ve taught myself how to use computers, and I consider myself very knowledgeable about them, but I just—I learn everything on my own, just figure it out, and the same with cameras. It’s like a cell phone. I just figure out how to do it, and it’s pretty quick and easy” (Patricia Lange, YouTube and Video Bloggers).

because this is exactly how I learn new technologies.  I figure them out, read up and research about them and then start using them.  Most everything you could ever want to know is already online, it’s just finding that information, understanding it and trying it out for yourself.  Most of the knowledge I have gained as a technology integrator has been from searching the web, reading blogs, forums and help files and spending some time experimenting with the new tools.  Kids are doing this already.  If you show them how to search and evaluate information, most other things they can figure out by themselves.

The teacher needs to step back and become more of a facilitator than an information resource.  The article Connectivism: A Learning Theory for the Digital Age by George Siemens talks about the “Rapidly diminishing knowledge life.”  In other words  “Half of what is known today was not known 10 years ago. The amount of knowledge in the world has doubled in the past 10 years and is doubling every 18 months” and there is no possible way to keep up with all this information.  In my opinion, the best way to stay current as a teacher is to stay abreast of new technologies, and new ways of finding and searching information so that you can pass these valuable skills to your students.