This is a unique and diverse topic and just like the Loch Ness monster, somewhat elusive. After reading articles like Jaeger’s digital footprint and Teacher Librarians having students going through Digital Passport lessons, it still seems like the best way to reach students is through personal contact and conversation– not lecturing– authentic conversation.
My favorite part of lessons about database searching via web searching include “hits”, web content and where it’s coming from, and the mindless clicking from link to link without truly looking at what you’re clicking versus customized results. But the ultimate is questions about Googling themselves, finding themselves online, and always poking fun, to demonstrate a point, about their ludicrous emails (though I have to admit I don’t see this as often anymore). I am always aware of my digital footprint.
I am lucky enough to have formed relationships with many senior students going through the process of college applications and talking about future career objectives, so I was especially interested in the two articles about colleges and employers checking someone out online. I am of the very firm opinion that what you put out there should/can/will be used, but stopped a moment in the second article about how in some camps, it’s construed as an invasion of privacy. I guess I don’t see it that way because by definition, online is public. Thing web 2.0, it’s all out there and users are the creators of the content. Like rubber ducks? Create a website dedicated to them. Want to curate pretty things via Pinterest? Unless I’ve created a secret board, have at looking at what I like. If I wanted it private, I’d still have my corkboard filled with magazine cutouts that I made in 9th grade. And the college article does put it in to perspective– who has time to look at everyone’s digital footprint? But, when necessary, it does help make a case, especially with the prospective college student disparaging the college via Twitter at the orientation, as noted in the article.
And students should know the consequences. No, they shouldn’t be scared in to deleting provocative photos of themselves, but they are showing their “true” selves if they’re not careful about what they’re putting up there. I appreciated the girls’ last comment giving the example of joining clubs in senior year to project who you think you should be to the college and likening that to deleting pictures to project a certain image, but those images alone absolutely project an image and they need to be balanced with all of the positives– because clearly some students are using it to their benefit by attaching additional links to their college applications to share their digital footprint and get a leg up.
Though it all goes back to my original paragraph, that it all starts with meaningful conversations with the students. Scared straight might work in a large auditorium of juniors and seniors, but in a one-on-one with a respected teacher or librarian, might just truly be the lightbulb moment… not that I’ll stop trying to add in a bit of mass-market soapbox when in classrooms just for good measure.