"Digital footprints? For real, Mrs. Ratzel? I've never heard of anything like that...I can surf the web and no one knows who I am or where I come from."
"Do I worry about who sees my work that I post? No way."
"I love talking with my friends online and posting on their walls. It's a blast and there's no one to tell me what to do."
I hear these whenever I bring up the subject of digital footprints to my students. They feel all the power of surfing the web; going wherever they chose, no one to say yes or no; the perfect place for them to flex themselves as they grow and mature. Can you blame them? We felt that way too and just expressed it in different ways in our generation (doesn't matter how old you are, does it when you think of it like this). I think the idea of a global generation is important with which to come to terms (the link will take you to a wonderful online speech by John Palfrey). Digital identities leave behind traces of who you wherever you "travel" online. Something like Google will bring these little pieces of "you" all together into a composite picture which mutates into a singular digital footprint.
So digital footprint matters. As the adult in my classroom I know it and what I must do is to provide a learning experience to help students arm themselves with understanding. I've been thinking about this idea of digital footprints before. Will they still feel that invincible power of teenagers? Sure. But maybe it will give them just enough of an awareness that they can hesitate (ever so slightly) and make a better decision.
Do you think they realize that all this goes on?
Now I've always used a digital driver's license approach. It worked pretty well and it includes a set of 4 lessons, based on the Common Sense curriculum, that students must complete before I allow them to do much with computers.
- What information should be private and what can I share with the world?
- How can I be smart about online talk and messaging?
- Cyberbullying---it isn't funny and what you should do to make sure it doesn't happen to you as well as what you can do to help stop it
- Sharing what you do with your parents---how to keep them informed, sharing passwords, and teaching them about what you're learning
Last year when I started blogging with students, I incorporated a tiered system of gaining access to student publishing by having another gaunlet of skills that they must demonstrate before they were able to get their own blog, publish blog posts without my moderation and/or write posts for the class blog. I read lots of materials, including some interesting work at the Youth and Media project which considers not only how this issue affects American youth, but youth throughout the wordl.
This year in a graduate course I teach, we started talking about all the aspects of digital citizenship and the driver's license. They questioned whether a driver's license was broad enough to incorporate all the places students would be going. Their questions made me realize that I need to revamp the idea and turn the driver's license into a passport.
Changing from a Driver's License to a Digital Passport Makes Sense
It makes sense to me to manage the footprint with a passport because a student has to "visit" so many different places. It allows me to use the metaphor of the internet being another world...and each place we go will be like another country. To enter that country, you have to have a valid passport visa.
I'm in the process of defining each of those "countries" right now. Here's my brainstormed list so far
- Searching---synomyns, keywords
- Twitter---how to read, how to interact
- Images---copyright, how to find them
- Image alterations---where to manipulate the way they look both online and with school software
- High quality posting and commenting
- i Touch skills
- Recording audio & editing it
- USGS and NOAA websites---where to go; what you can find;
- Citation---how to do it; web-based citation helps; citation apps
- Scribe posting--how to notetake for the class; where to post
- Archiver--what to document, where to store what's been gathered; how to curate what you've done so other people can find it in the future
If there are things on this list that you think would be useful, please make a suggestion. I've been designing an electronic version of the passport which I will post in the near future so that everyone can use it.
So what would you add?
Passport picture Image licensed under AttributionCC http://www.flickr.com/photos/gravitywave/366712496/sizes/m/in/photostream/