Helping to Find a Digital Footprint or Creating Online Expectations?

I think the biggest thing we need to be sure of when discussing this topic, is ensuring we are all using the same definition of a ‘digital footprint’. When I think of a digital footprint, it is similar to the definition found online,

The information about a particular person that exists on the internet as a result of their online activity. “There are several ways to ensure your digital footprint doesn’t damage your reputation”

To me, this means monitoring what your students are posting online and ensuring that they are being appropriate & careful. If we are going by this definition then I believe this runs into a whole world of problems. For starters, no two parents will have the same ways of regulating their child online & making rules for them. Do all parents want their child to be respectful over the internet? I think I can confidently say yes. Do all parents monitor that respectfulness and put rules in place to ensure it is happening? Absolutely not, so how can teachers be expected to find that bridge and ensure no lines or boundaries of these expectations are being crossed?

The article Digital Natives: Citizens of a Changing World Fostering Digital Citizenship in the Classroom shares a quote,

“Students must understand how to use personal technology in ways that enhance their learning experience and lead to self-empowerment and awareness…”

I think if this is the definition people are using to explain digital footprints, then that may be where the problem lies. To me the quote above is just basic expectations for myself as a teacher for incorporating technology into the classroom. Anything good comes with responsibility and if I choose to incorporate technology into the classroom as a learning tool, then I am also taking on that responsibility of making sure my students know that it is there to enhance our learning experiences and it is to be respected. Is it my responsibility to ensure students are using technology in a positive, respectable, non-damaging way? Within my classroom absolutely, but that could fall flat the second they walk out my classroom door.

Both sides of the debate for this week did an excellent job! It definitely made me think critically and was once again I was left flip flopping between sides, view points, and comments made during the discussion. I love when a class really stumps me on my own beliefs of something & can deepen my understanding. That is what a good debate should do! I did come out of it with a clear understanding that I do not think teachers should have a responsibility to help their students develop a digital footprint. However, this debate also made me think of my own classroom and how I could maybe have some more discussions and/or teaching points to help my students become AWARE of their digital footprint. Maybe educating our students on the fact that they will always have a digital footprint is helpful enough.

Just like Jerred addresses in the video, “Reasons Teachers are Quitting Their Jobs in 2022”, along with Jessica from the debate, some very crucial points were made with already worrying about our own digital footprint. We are encouraged to constantly monitor and watch what WE as educators are posting and I honestly struggled to keep up with it. Between commenting on posts that might not be “approved”, to getting tagged in photos I didn’t know were going to be posted, it was all too much to monitor. How are we supposed to help students create their own digital footprint if we can barely keep up with our own. I truly feel like this responsibility needs to be on the shoulders of their parents.

I believe that my expectations as a teacher should not include something that involves so much of the outside world. In regards to the photo below, ensuring a child is always thinking long-term before posting, using privacy settings on social networking pages, keeping personal information private, protecting your privacy and the privacy of your friends, and applying the Golden Rule when online seems like a big task. A task I did not sign up for & that should not be in my job description. If it eventually works its way into the curriculum then I guess that is the future we are at. However, for now, I’m going to remind my students to be decent, kind, respectable, mature, appropriate human beings online & leave the rest up to their parents!


One response to “Helping to Find a Digital Footprint or Creating Online Expectations?”

  1. Laura Erickson Avatar
    Laura Erickson

    Hi Kennedy, great post! I referred to it a couple of times in my post this week. This was a great a debate question and I appreciate how you outlined the “disagree” side. You made many valid points that align with my thinking.


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