Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Digital Footprints -- How big and do they stink?

When Susan Boyle took the stage in England a few years ago, everyone laughed at her frumpy image--until she lifted her voice to sing.  Overnight, she was whisked away and given a makeover to make her more camera-ready.    Just as this budding star was transformed for a purpose, our teens need to wake-up and transform their digital image for academic and employment purposes.  

Teens today are frolicking on the Internet with little censorship or internal filter regarding what they post.  The Pew internet studies say they 'hang-out' online for hours daily.   Imagine the digital footprint they are imprinting, defining who they are...and they don't even realize.  Last year, ASCD printed a wonderful article exposing the need to heighten our students awareness to what their virtual image looks like.  We as educators are  remiss if we don't include digital footprints as part of our digital citizenship instruction.  Will Richardson started some of this dialog in 2008 in an Education Leadership article worth reading

Joyce Valenza while Keynoter at our NYS School Librarians conference last Spring shared that we need to encourage students to build a positive footprint.  It was like a light bulb went off--of course.  Under COPA laws, (Child Online Protect Act) educators have had to lock down the Internet and not allow kids to post almost anything without parental permission.  What a shame.  All their good work is veiled behind a law. However, we can empower our students to post their good work on their own.  

Trillions of transactions are now working together to create a data picture of all online inhabitants. (See Pew Research Study, click here)   That data is there.  What happens on the Internet Stays on the Internet.   We will need to heighten our students awareness of painting their digital portrait.  In our area, we have a pilot Digital Image Makeover going for our tweens and teens.   You are welcome to check out some of the many sources we have aggregated on our wiki   We have many resources for teachers and students alike.  

This is such a large, growing issue that there are companies doing very well, just cleaning images and selling software to monitor and adjust your data footprint.  Visit to see this innovative new sample.    This issue is so large that there are now college majors in "Data Mining."  

I will be presenting at the NYLA conference in November on Digital Footprints--How big and do they stink?  Join us if you are attending.   If not, check out our wiki and the resources below for additional information.  

Check out these links: 

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