Focusing on the positive–creating positive digital footprints, day #1

Starting article on POSITIVE digital legacies: http://edjudo.com/the-power-of-a-positive-digital-footprint-for-students.html

(The article above is a great starting point for discussing positive digital footprints. Rather than focusing on what technology should NOT do, it is time to focus on how to use it for positive means.)

Everyone leaves behind a digital footprint just as everyone leaves behind a legacy of some sort. However, when we look to leave behind a legacy, we think about what positive traits we can instill in the future. Why not focus on that when creating digital footprints? The tools are out there; they just have to be used for a positive purpose.

To begin, Google search yourself. What digital footprint are you leaving behind? I decided to just search myself to see what others will find when they want to look up “Christy Fennewald.”

When I search my name, does my name appear in a positive setting, a neutral setting or a negative setting? I like to think it is positive, but in most cases, it is neutral. And, this prompts me to think: what creates a digital footprint?

The following are all places where you can leave a digital footprint:

  • Facebook, MySpace, Pinterest, Twitter, and other social media
  • Blogs (like this one)
  • Newspaper articles
  • Court/police records
  • Websites
  • Portfolios
  • Web 2.0 applications and games
  • Competitions
  • “White pages”
  • any site where you provide personal identification (your name, phone number, email, or address)
  • And more

The point is, you are leaving a digital footprint even when you do not realize it. So, now is the time to start realizing it–realizing what trail you leave behind.

So, how do you begin to leave a positive trail behind? David Jakes has some great questions to beigin:

  • 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?

 The focus is on the positive and on leaving positive legacies. However, districts must create a safe space for students to publish their work. Just as you work to create a positive image for yourself, your digital image should be positive.

The New York Times’ The Learning Network has created a great toolkit for developing digital resumes in the classroom. This is a good way to get students to focus on building a positive image of themselves. These skills can then be applied to the digital footprint they create for themselves.

To borrow from David Jakes again, here are some great resources for exploring digital footprints. Students must first understand what a digital footprint it and these are useful tools for doing so:


Presentation resources at Only2Clicks.com This is montage of David Jakes’ digital footprint.
Twitter Costume
Personas: This is a great resource for discovering how the Internet views you. You can enter your name and it will show you how you appear. 





Pipl | People Search
Spezify: Great site to look up your name and see your footprint.





Digital Dossier: Great video on your digital legacy

Tufts University: Good article on what colleges are accepting from students

Wayback Machine |:Internet Archives for seeing what you will leave behind.

Critical Reading and Resources
Footprints in the Digital Age | Will Richardson
The Brand Called You | Fast Company
Leaving Digital Footprints That Count | Steve Ransom

Stay tuned for Day 2 of this series as we explore how you can be an advocate in the classroom for creating positive digital footprints. 

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