The Importance of Digital Footprints to our Students

Coming into EC&I830 I did not know what to expect.  I have always been leery of posting my thoughts, opinions and pictures online for others to see and judge.  I have been cautious of protecting my digital footprint and limiting what there is to be “Googled” about my name.  With this in mind I have also been extremely tentative about posting my students work. After a few weeks of this course I have seen the value of sharing ideas online, and being able to draw valuable information out from my fellow classmates.

This weeks debate “Openness and sharing in schools is unfair to our kids”, saw two great teams post very valuable information coming from both sides of the argument.  Although the voting seemed to be lop sided with the disagree team winning the debate with 83% of the votes, in my opinion it was a lot closer then it appeared.  Both teams did a GREAT job of arguing their stance.

Lisa, Haiming, and Stephanie  of the disagree team argued the idea that sharing and openness online in the classroom is a great way to stay connected with families and the community. They took the stance that we are now in a time where everybody will have a digital footprint, and it is important for the schools to teach the students how to protect their digital footprint.  Instead of the school taking a defensive stance on digital identity, we must be proactive and teach our students how to post positive and valuable information.  Like I said earlier,  I had previously had the mentality that the less there was about you online the better your digital footprint would be.  After reading the article posted by the disagree side, Teachers, Take Care of your Digital Footprint, my opinion has changed. Within the article it talks about the idea “If you aren’t controlling your footprint, others are” (para 4). This really spoke to me. I had never thought of this before, and hate the idea that others can shape my footprint. Once again, I now believe that it is important to have a positive and active digital footprint online for my students and myself, instead of not having one at all.  


Photo Credit: laurenmcpeak via Compfight cc

Although I did get swayed towards the disagree team side, Kelsie, Danielle, and Shannon of the agree team did argue some persuasive points.  The argument that stuck with me the most from their debate was the idea that digital footprints are permanent and stick with students forever.  When is the appropriate age for a student to be able to have control of their own digital footprint over the teachers choice of what to post? They also had a convincing argument about privacy issues online for students and their families. They also posted a powerful video from their research, How to Think About Digital Tattoosa TED Talk featuring Juan Enriquez.  Juan talks about what we post online being permanent like tattoos and often what is posted online tells more then we want the world to know about. 

Throughout the short time in this course I have learned a lot about technology and the importance of technology in the classroom, but maybe nothing as important as what I have learned from Tuesday’s debate.  I have had my opinion change about digital footprint and the importance of becoming a positive online citizen.  Instead of remaining silent and keeping my online footprint at a minimal I will now strive to create a positive footprint for myself and teach my students about the importance of creating a positive footprint as well.  During the upcoming year I will increase my sharing with parents (with permission), and look into setting up a blog for my students to share their ideas with each other and others within our community.  Great debate, I appreciate all the sharing and help!



11 thoughts on “The Importance of Digital Footprints to our Students”

  1. I have had many of the same thoughts in my head all week! I hadn’t googled myself since my first year of university and almost felt proud last week when I didn’t see anything. Over a week of thinking and reading, I am also reconsidering my opinion and how I feel about that. Thanks for the post. Now I’m in the wondering stage of how I can improve my online identity and make a positive “footprint”.


  2. I think the idea of the permanency of digital information out there is a scary thing for those with no guidance…I guess it would be like getting behind the wheel to drive without driver training. We just wouldn’t. But after learning how to “roll” online, attempting to put yourself out there in appropriate ways, posting things becomes an entirely new concept full of opportunity.


  3. I had the same realization as you! I have always thought “Less is Best!” when it came to posting things online. I learned a lot researching for the debate. I I was on the “Share is more than Fair” side and truly believe it is a great way to connect with families and teach our students, but I do not walk that walk. I am now looking at all the ways I can build my digital footprint… a little intimidating, but exciting at the same time! thanks for sharing your thoughts!


  4. I really liked reading your blog post this week about digital citizenship Carter. I can relate to how you were feeling because I was also leery when I took EC&I831 and I was cautious of what I wrote about in my blog posts. In time I became more comfortable and now I am happy that I have those blog posts to look back on to see links of resources and to reflect on what I have learned about. I appreciated how honest you were throughout your post about your learning journey. Last year I started to blog with my grade two students using Edublog. It has been a fabulous learning tool in my classroom! The Edublog website was very helpful in teaching how to get a classroom blog started, they respond very fast to emails of any questions you may have, and has continued to be a huge support to me. Great work Carter!


    1. Thanks Justine! I really appreciate the feedback and I am going to look into having a blog in my class next year. I also love to hear that you were where I am now at one point and there is hope! Thanks again


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