The Digital-Education Disconnect

Rural Disconnect

As an advisory teacher for a group of seniors last year, we spent one 20 minute lesson talking about their “digital footprint” (I’m not even sure we used that phrase). I barely remember the lesson so I’m sure my students remember it even less (I wish I would have known about this lesson!). Adults love to TALK about how what kids do online now will impact their future, but do we walk the walk? How many adults in education are actively concerned about their digital footprint? How many of us know that what we do online can hurt (AND help) our chances of getting jobs? Yes – I believe that as (international) educators we should have a digital footprint that helps demonstrate what we can bring to an organization.

A theme often talked about among connected educators on Twitter & #edchat is how to get more educators involved in the conversation. In a US system where many teachers stay in the same position/district for their entire careers, will they ever see the benefit of a positive digital footprint? Teachers who never change jobs would rarely think about if their employers are looking for a positive footprint. International teachers are in a different boat. From my (limited) experience, it seems that we change jobs much more often – some people as often as every 2 years. Our digital footprints may be closer to the forefront of our minds however I think it’s still quite common to focus on the negative effects of social media and not how it can actually help us grow in our practice. That said, how many people know the ins and outs of their privacy settings on Facebook, Twitter, etc?

And then there’s the administration. How many administrators that are actively hiring are looking at applicants’ digital footprints (positive or negative)? What do admin actually KNOW about the people they hire (besides what’s on their beefed up resumes and what their references say)? A simple google search provides a plethora of professional evidence. I wonder if any of my administrators during the last 4 years have bothered to see what I’ve put online.

A couple months ago I watched the beginning of a keynote by George Couros during Calgary Educational Partnership Foundation‘s Online Safety Week. He talked to the students about how everything they do online (even during grade school) will affect their job prospects later. Ironically students had already been tweeting (using the hashtag) about how they didn’t want to be there and other not so nice things. Little did they know George was online watching them!

Kids don’t understand the gravity of their actions online (specifically social media) nor how to harness their power for good. But who’s teaching them? There aren’t many adults out there with the skills to do so. This mix will lead to a very interesting future for all of us!

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