Digital Natives vs. Digital Immigrants … Digital Footprints?

I took a look at the focus for this course (COETAIL course #2 – 21st Century Literacy Ideas, Questions, and Issues), and it has not only peaked my interest, but also made me realize how ignorant I am towards the footprints I leave behind when I jump online. Privacy, internet security and how this impacts our teaching are all things that we need to keep in mind, especially as we model behaviors and make our students more aware of what awaits them in cyberspace. Blogging and email are the obvious ones to begin with, but where do we go from here with elementary age students? More on this later …

For me, this week gave me a chance for some personal inquiry.

1) I am a digital immigrant and laugh at how I used computers 10 years ago … and before that I avoided them altogether. Now I spend usually an hour or two a day on them for various things, from emailing and blogging to watching TV and surfing the net. Security is something I need to be more aware of, especially with my love of online shopping (thank you amazon.com). How safe is a Wi-fi connection that others can access? Does a Wi-fi connection which is password-protected make things safer? If my Mac laptop (school issued) is without anti-virus software, am I asking for trouble, or has my school technician looked after this? I feel like I need to do some serious research into all of these questions.

2) Cookies. Another new idea for me. I have heard of them, and seen them cleared from your browser’s history… but not sure why or how. Does it protect us, hurt us, or make us work harder when surfing. Digital Footprints gives us a little insight into how this whole idea works.

I decided to try to erase my footprints … well some of them anyways. With Firefox, I went to Tools –> Clear Private Data –> and then just selected the items I wanted to focus on. Cookies was there of course, and I made sure that this box was ticked.

The essential question for this week is:

When and where should we be teaching students about their digital footprint?

This is a great question, since up until about a week ago, I had never heard of this concept at all. It makes sense, and we need to think carefully of the best way to begin this process in a relevant, meaningful manner. What is a good starting point for our students?  As digital natives, are we being naive or paranoid (see Your Digital Dossier)? Anyways, some thoughts on the readings for this week …

Your online reputation can hurt your job search

I never thought of this when I was being interviewed this winter at the Search Bangkok Job Fair. The idea that someone would search Google and blogs for personal information about me is … weird. But probably very effective. Your footprints on Facebook, photo sites, blogs and other social networking sites could be a huge factor in whether or not you are are even considered for a job. They can take you out of the running before you even get started. Fortunately, when I searched Google, nothing came up. Facebook is another story …

On the flip side, if you promote yourself through social network sites, this can have a very positive effect as well. The article outlines ways to positively promote yourself digitally, from blogging your skills (online CV) to setting up your profile online (social networking sites) and linking it to your blog. Make links positive and easy to access. Obviously, the best way to do this is to start young and protect your image online. This is where we come in as educators. The video Cyberbullying – Bulletin Board is a great reminder for all of us.

Protect Your Digital Footprint

The one thing that really hit home from this article was the statement: Unlike footprints in the snow or sand, your digital footprint out there in cyberspace can last forever. What a thought. Doesn’t this make it clear that we need to start educating students at a young age, as soon as they are ready to use the internet and understand the importance of internet safety. It is just like telling them “don’t talk to strangers” … they will understand. Start with basics, and keep the language simple. Respect, safety & privacy are terms which can be understood at a very young age.

Taking a look at ISB’s AUP for the elementary school, there are some clear links to the idea of digital footprints and internet safety. It could be better. The statement “Students are responsible for appropriate behavior when using the school’s computers, networks, and Internet access just as they are in a classroom or on a school playground” is a good one, and may make things more relevant to young learners. However, the “respect myself” section would benefit if it addressed the idea of privacy online.  I also wonder though if there is a “kid friendly” version of this policy. This may be something I tackle with my class of fifth graders …

A very good focus for the first week of our second course. Lots of learning ahead …

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~ by yamaguru on March 28, 2009.

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