Category Archives: Digital Footprint

Culmination of Learning…and a Thousand Paper Cuts

If there was no time limit this video would have been at least 15 minutes. The writer in me got a little carried away, that lead to cuts, then more cuts and more cuts. All the little lines I treasured got tossed to the side. Even then it’s a few seconds over (15 with citations). There’s a reason my film degree was not in production.

On a side note the music I used from WeVideo gave me a copyright strike. First video ever uploaded and I got a copyright strike. Seems fitting.

Best of luck to everyone, whether you are done your masters journey or just beginning.

Topic #7: Educators and schools have a responsibility to help their students develop a digital footprint. 

Educators in schools have a responsibility to help their students develop a digital footprint. Indeed we are in the 21st century where technology is booming, and mostly every student (in Saskatchewan) has access to technology in some form. I struggle with the wording of the debate topics (but hey that’s what makes it a debate), and in this particular topic I struggle with the word responsibility. Before I get too ahead of myself I want to acknowledge that I am all for helping students develop a digital footprint, and helping them understand what a digital footprint is. Where I get stuck is whose responsibility is it to help youth develop their digital footprint. Additionally, within the chat of the debate someone addressed the fact that some parents do not understand technology or digital footprints, conversely some teachers may not either. So I ask again, whose responsibility is helping develop a digital footprint for youth?

Youth are on social media more than ever and it is essential for educators to help guide students as to what is safe and not safe to share. The impacts of not helping guide students to help form their digital footprint, and furthermore their digital identity could negatively impact students. In the early years of students education we should be talking about terms such as digital identity, digital footprint and digital citizenship to provide awareness of the negative implications on various platforms like social media. Furthermore, I think it is essential for others to know how they could impact someone else’s digital footprint from posting a video of one of their friends on social media. Not everyone wants to air their “dirty laundry” on social media (besides the embarrassment factor).

Does developing students digital footprint solely rest on teachers? Some households do not have any technology within, therefore it would be difficult for parents to teach this essential skill with not all the tools or the know how. With the lack of knowledge parents would be ill equipped to educate their children about their digital footprint. Besides this, digital identity, digital citizenship and digital footprint are all relatively new terms that I am sure a large percentage would not know the meanings of. That being said, do teachers have the skill set to teach these newly coined words? Professional development needs to be pushed to understand how to merge these essential topics into the curriculum to help develop students’ digital footprint. Teachers also may need to be given more information to best inform their students. Teachers are not well-prepared to have these conversations with their students nor will they feel comfortable to do so unless there are some guidelines surrounding digital footprints and their effects. Teaching students to develop their own digital footprint is a collective responsibility between parents, teachers, the ministry and school divisions alike, certainly this responsibility should not just rest on the shoulders of teachers.

There are resources out there that helps embed digital citizenship into various curriculums as well as lesson plans on how to do so as Dawn McGuckin describes these steps in her article. With teachers already overloaded and with catching up from other years there is not a lot of time in the day to always learn these concepts, and furthermore take matters into your own hands. In the article, Post no photos, leave no trace: Children’s digital footprint management strategies students attested to their parents, in most cases, did not teach or talk to them about social media. Two of those students did say their parents ask them if there is something troubling them about social media and the other student said their account is linked with their parents so they can see their activity online. This proves that parents also need assistance in teaching about the harms of social media, and how their digital footprint can follow them around, with negative ramifications.

Final Thoughts

Teaching students how to develop their digital footprint does not solely rest on the shoulders of the teacher, besides teachers don’t have the resources they need to effectively teach these skills. Parents, teachers, school divisions, and the ministry are all responsible for providing resources and PD opportunities to help aid teachers in these undertakings – it takes a village. Digital citizenship, digital identity, and digital footprints are all important learnings in 21st century education, which students should receive the education they need to reduce negative implications in their future!

Digital Footprints in the Snow: Debate #7

Photo by Lloyd Freeman on Pexels.com

Years ago in my home town it was a snowy day two teenagers were breaking into cars and stealing items from inside. A man noticed them sneaking around in the dark while sitting in his car. He slouched down and thought, “There is no way they’d be stupid enough to not see me and open the door.” They were. They were seen. They ran. The police followed their footprints right to their front door.

As both sides discussed many children start their digital footprint before they are even aware of the world around them.  I am just as guilty, happily posting a picture of my son on social media shortly after he was born. It is also difficult not to have at least a few tidbits of information about individuals online (at least in the western world).  That is why I initially voted yes for educators having a responsibility to help students develop a digital footprint.

Photo by Max Fischer on Pexels.com

Agree described teachers as being in an ideal position to help students develop and control (at least partially) their presences online. Buchanan et al., (2017) found that while children were avid uses of the internet they thought of their digital footprint as a source of fear, rather than a tool. They concluded that teaching children how to “curate” their footprint to build towards their future goals.  In the same way we teach the basics of math to prepare them for higher grades, we could teach them how to use the virtual space to help them achieve their goals. Schools have policies that are meant to protect them and we can build a safe and controlled situation to help build their fundamental digital skills. Agree further mentioned that we can help guide impulsive kids as they take their early steps into the virtual space. We also must acknowledge that parents are often not teaching their kids how to approach their presence online.

Buchanan et. al., (2017) found that there was no consistency with how involved parents were with their children’s use of devices, leaving them without the skills to properly interact online.  One only has to read a few stories of “cancelled” people to see why carefully choosing your posts and tweets is so important.  The internet never forgets.

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Disagree later chipped away at some of these points.  Those school policies and release forms we have parents sign, how much do they really understand?  What about the student’s choice to regulate their own online presence?  Personally I am asked to take pictures of students and submit them for uploads to our school website.  While I always make sure those students have had a release form signed, I do not always ask students permission before taking pictures.  Although I carefully cultivate what I email or upload to Edsby, it is a fair comment that I should include the students more in that decision. Anson-Smith (2021) found that a number of schools used student images as marketing.  Not to mention the amount of information that companies and individuals can collect. If schools and teachers are making these mistakes, can we honestly say we are currently prepared to educate our students on the same topic?

As I bounced between sides my own thoughts asked if we hand over technology that could be used to create a digital foot print, should I be responsible to teach them how to manage its use? Furthermore, do I indirectly do this through health and media literacy lessons?  There are numerous times throughout the year when we have discussed why it is important to be careful what you put online and what you share with others.

Where disagree won me over was reminding me of that word “responsibility,” indicating we had to do this.  As they mentioned, we are not trained to support students in this situation. McGuckin (2018) presents to educators and she continually sees how little we know about the abilities and ramifications of social media. Yet we are expected to teach our students, who often know far more than us.  We are not backed by government or divisions directly, although some may assume or encourage us to take on this responsibility anyway.  This also pushes the responsibility onto students who may not be ready to nurture their online presence.  It may present a false confidence in parents that teachers have this and remove themselves from the responsibility of checking in on their children.

Photo by Julia M Cameron on Pexels.com

That is not to say I do not think it is a good idea to help students understand what they are/can do with their use of digital technology.  I want my students to understand that a tweet or a discord chat room may seem like a small step, but it can have huge implications. However placing that responsibility entirely on educator’s shoulders is unfair and dangerous.  It sets a precedent for assuming we will pick up the pieces that government, corporations, and parents should be carrying. Until teachers have been properly trained, education policies and programs are designed, and parents are made more aware of what is happening, it is not fair to place this responsibility on teachers.  As Disagree said, making the responsibility of developing their student’s digital footprint is a reactive approach.  It creates and unstable platform on which an important part of our students futures rest

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Playing the Digital Footprint Devil’s Advocate

And traversing the online teaching frontier… (Debates 7&8)

What happens when you have to debate as the opposition on a topic you wholeheartedly support? Short answer: It gets very messy inside your mind very quickly! When I volunteered to switch my stance for this debate and play “devil’s advocate,” I was almost exclusively thinking of one of my favourite books, Think Again, by Adam Grant.

In his book, Grant outlines how to develop the habit of thinking again: think like a scientist, define your identity in terms of values not opinions, and (of most importance here) seek out information that goes against your views. Make no mistake, despite how I debated Monday night, I am firmly in support of teachers and schools having a role in the development of children’s digital footprints. Of course, I wanted to see if I could convince myself of the opposite viewpoint…even just a little.

If I can inject one book plug that I feel strongly correlates with this course, it’s definitely Think Again by Adam Grant!

As always, let’s turn to the facts before I jump in with my final reflections (revealed in the video below…)

Strapped for time? Aren’t we all? Jump to the 22:52 minute mark to hear my final takeaways.
To add your own points or reiterate points you believe most essential to this debate, please join the Jamboard here: Digital Footprint Jamboard

Debate 7 Final Reflection and Leftover Questions

In the end, I cannot dispute that teachers and schools play a role in helping students develop their digital footprints (you got me there, Rae and Funmi!). As educators, we act as guides for our students navigating a physical and now digital world. After playing devil’s advocate, the one caveat I can make in this case is that the development of student digital identities does not START with teachers and cannot END with them either. The responsibility is shared. We owe it to our children to hold parents, teachers/schools/divisions, governments, and online platforms accountable for creating safe online spaces for our children to explore their digital identities.

  • As an educator (or similar), do you feel adequately supported by parents, your school/division, and professional resources/development when teaching students about digital citizenship and footprints?
  • If you have received excellent resources and/or PD on this topic (to use with students), please share in the comments, including how it guided your classroom lessons and use of tech.
  • How often do you check the terms of service agreement before signing off on something? Tell me I’m not the only one signing my life away 🙂
You can begin to take action here: Humans Rights Watch: Students Not Products

“I can’t but we can.”

-Anon.
Just as Big Oil and Gas companies made it the responsibility of individuals to clean up pollution in the ’70s/’80s, Big Tech companies seek to make it the individual’s (AKA: teachers) job to clean up “online pollution.”
Like anything worth fighting for/changing/improving, creating a safe online world for our children’s digital identities is going to take a global village. Image credit: @brenna.quinlan art and posted/reshared with permission @chicksforclimatechange

Traversing the online teaching frontier…I think I got lost in Timbuktu – Debate 8

I was still reeling from my own debate (I really dislike pushing a one-sided viewpoint. Objectivity. ALL. THE. WAY!), but the subsequent online learning debate delivered a double-whammy to my solar plexus! I’ve been teaching online for almost 3 years now. To suggest it’s been detrimental to the social and academic development of the children I’ve worked with feels like a personal attack. It’s not, of course. Once more, I turn to the facts before I will jump in with my reflection…littered with 3 years of positive and negative experiences.

Strapped for time? Yup, I hear ya! Head over to the 18:25 minute mark to hear my final reflections.
To add your own points or reiterate points you believe most essential to this debate, please join the Jamboard here: Online Learning Jamboard

Debate 8 Final Reflections and Leftover Questions

After reading all the articles and listening to the debators and my classmates discuss this topic, I keep coming back to my own experiences over the last few years. I have the unique vantage point of having taught in the rushed, uncharted dynamic of the pandemic and then in a more developed, purposeful role as an OLST (online learning support services teacher). Teaching students from every school in every grade in my division is not for nothing. The highs and lows of online learning have changed me as an educator; changed my definitions of schools, classrooms, and teaching. To say that online learning is detrimental to students generalizes the concepts of physical schools and education as one-size-fits-all definitions. That is certainly not the case. When done properly, and by that, I mean MINDFULLY, online education can become a digital anchor for many families needing something different. Physical schools will always be needed, but online education is the perfect alternative.

  • If you’re so inclined, please tell me about your own teaching experiences during the pandemic. Mine was oddly positive, but I know experiences vary greatly!
  • How do you think pandemic teaching and current online teaching differ? Or do you think they do?
  • What would you say to a family considering online? What factors should be taken into consideration?
  • How do you feel about your own online education? Does it seem like a viable option as opposed to being on-campus? What works for you and what doesn’t?

Thank you for joining this learning journey. One master’s class down…many more to go! Best wishes to you all!

Debate #7 – Educators Have a Responsibility to Help Their Students Develop a Digital Footprint

The first debate of the night this week was very interesting! I find that (similar to other weeks) the topic is a bit vague and there are many ways that it might be interpreted. For example, the debaters focused on the digital footprint itself, but the open discussion time kept heading towards the general ideaContinue reading "Debate #7 – Educators Have a Responsibility to Help Their Students Develop a Digital Footprint"