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Running Head: Reflection Paper on Positive Digital Footprint

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Reflection Paper on Creating a Positive Digital Footprint


Josh Fuhrman
Educational Leadership 325: Instructional Technology
Professor Froehlich
March 1, 2016

Reflection Paper on Creating a Positive Digital Footprint


By Josh Fuhrman
A positive digital footprint means that the information that others can find about you
online is nothing that can damage your reputation or your being viewed as a professional

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educator. My digital footprint is the information about myself that I share with others so that they
can get an idea of who I am. This means that whenever posting, tweeting, blogging, emailing or
doing any digital activity, one needs to remember that this information will be around for anyone
to see, really forever. So posting information on Facebook about attending parties, drinking or
tweeting something when you are really angry could hurt not only your image or reputation, but
your ability to obtain or hold a teaching position. Simpson shares how many teachers believe that
the first amendments freedom of speech allows them to share what they want on their personal
social media sites. In his article Social Networking Nightmares, Simpson illustrated many
examples of teachers losing their jobs because of postings to their personal social media.
Simpson shared several court cases in which teachers lost their arguments that losing their job or
position using personal resources was a violation of first amendment right and all lost.
Therefore, teachers need to be aware that the first amendment offers them limited protection and
post carefully as administrators and others are watching.
Before this class, I hadnt really thought a lot about how the information I looked at or
messages that I sent could be traced. I have not been a large consumer of social media, I dont
have a Facebook account or snapchat, Instagram, but I still need to be aware that activities like
texts or posting to online blogs could be traced. I have high standards and am a pretty private
person, so I hadnt really thought about a digital footprint, but now am aware that I need to be.
Ive learned that there could be information online about me, even though I havent posted it, so I
really need to monitor any activity that is linked to my name.
I believe that not only do I have an obligation as an educator to have a positive digital
footprint, but that this is something we really need to educate students on. I cannot ever recall
any of my high school teachers talking about this. In fact, I think that one or two of my friends

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actually had teachers who were Facebook friends, and from what Ive learned in class, this could
be a very dangerous practice. If as a teacher, I want students involved in Facebook or other
social media, it will be done through a classroom site that will have ground rules for what is
appropriate and that I will monitor.
I have started a Twitter account as this will be useful in education, but have made only
professional contacts. Now that I am more aware of leaving a digital footprint, I will make sure
that the one Im creating is positive. I will look at my digital activity as is this information
something that I would be comfortable having published on the front page of the paper or
announced on the evening news. I can see how easy it would be to make a post that could have
long lasting ramifications. I know people who have posted about going to parties or have
pictures of them drinking, and they are not thinking that this can be something that is found out
about them forever. To enlarge my positive digital footprint, I could establish a LinkedIn
account that has information about me, my abilities and education. From what I have been
finding out, this is a site that is viewed as one with a more professional tone and outlook, as
opposed to Facebook. At this time, I do not really plan to develop a personal Facebook page.
These steps should help to maintain my positive digital footprint. Being on LinkedIn, will also
allow me the opportunity to connect with others who share like interests or careers, and this will
provide an opportunity to expand my network of peers. It could also be a place to share ideas
and learn from others. From what Im learning about Twitter, I could also make positive network
connections on there, looking for others who are teaching math.
My plan for managing social media once I am a teacher is to have limited accounts for
social media and to post general information about myself and my abilities, but not personal
information. If I would ever create a Facebook page, even if I am doing it not as a teacher, I

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need to remember that my current and future employer may well be reading anything I post. I
know some say to have a professional and personal account, but from what weve learned, more
and more employers will ask for access to both accounts. If you dont want to give them access
that would be like a red flag that there is something online you dont want the employer to know.
I do think that with the increased use of technology by everyone that a teacher has to have some
kind of presence online, to not could indicate that you are not willing to change or are behind the
times. I want to have appropriate professional information about me. I realize there may be some
information that I cannot control. For example, students or parents could go to a site like Rate
my Professor and find what other students say about me. To have these postings be positive
would be the goal. This can in part be accomplished by being genuine and caring about students
while providing quality educational opportunities. Using some of the strategies that I have been
learning to build a positive learning community should help. These include things like having
ground rules, using differentiated learning and instruction, offering alternative assessment
activities.
One needs to Google oneself to find out what is online about them and to do this every so
often. This is one way to keep on top of the information that anyone would be able to find out
about you.
I do think having a class or yearly Facebook page, web page or Twitter account could be
a benefit, as many parents as well as todays students are online and use these resources already. I
know that many schools require teachers to have web pages on their schools website. Another
benefit is that updates can be provided weekly or daily, depending on what is chosen and
everyone will be seeing the same information. The site could be used to share class activities,
what the homework is, outside resources that could be used to help learn the material. There

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could also be highlights about students accomplishments. Another benefit of this would be that
all who have a stake in the classroom can be involved- myself as the teacher, the students and the
parents. This would have to be done appropriately and have all students and parents agree to
participate. The page might need to be private so only, those involved in the activities can see
them. So I can see this as a great resource, but one that needs to be handled and managed in only
the most professional and ethical manner.
Ive also learned that having students create videos and posting to You Tube may be
another digital option. I would feel the need to have a parental permission form for having a class
You Tube project posted. If this option is used, there would be careful guidelines or a rubric, and
any projects would need to be viewed by me as the teacher and approved prior to posting for all
to see. I believe that would be an important step, not that students would plan to include
something inappropriate, but it could easily happen that someone says an inappropriate
comment or makes a slur on someone, and those types of things should not be allowed, and I
would not want my students or myself linked to anything like that. Students are already using
technology and connected to social media, so using this as an educational strategy is a way to
motivate and keep students engaged in learning. Use of google drive to post class notes,
lectures, recordings or podcasts are other ways to encourage a positive digital presence for
students. In The power of a positive digital footprint for students blog post, Jalger shares how
some people are paying online reputation management services as more and more places are
looking at online profiles. Jalger states maybe as educators, we need to start educating students
on creating a positive digital footprint as well as cyber safety. Jalger shared things that shouldnt
be shared are participating in illegal or questionable activities. On the other hand, positive things
to include are an indication of your personality, professional qualifications, communication

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skills, creativity, what groups belong to or participate in, awards and do other people say good
things. The data shows 93% of hiring managers will review a candidates social profile before
making a hiring decision (Davidson, 2014). Things that include you should never post on
include illegal drugs or drug use, sexual activity, guns, profanity, alcohol use or political
affiliations. Davidson (2014) also shared you might want to take another read of what youve
written: 66% of hiring managers said they would hold poor spelling and grammar against
candidates (para 7).
I think by introducing and using social media in the classroom appropriately, students
may begin to see that it isnt just for entertainment, but that it can be used for education. They
can also use it to reach out to others who share the same interests and start building their network
of support and resources early in life. One article we looked at was called 10 Things Your
Students Should Know About Their Digital Footprints on Teacherhub.com. This article shares
how it is our responsibility as educators to help students build a positive digital footprint and
what this involves. It provided useful information and facts that all students, parents and
educators should know about ones digital footprint. Things like college admission offices and
employers will look at these resources and decisions can be made based upon what is found.
There is no way to hide things online and once there, someone can find it. The importance of
keeping private information private and thinking before sending is highlighted. It says you cant
unsend and once posted anyone can find the information. There are important points that we all
should know but also as educators we should be informing students as they are in a stage where
impressing their friends is of more importance to them right now than getting a job or into
college in a few years. We need to let them know that everything matters.

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I have also learned that it is important to have a professional name for digital presencethis is not the time to develop a cute or funny nickname. From what weve learned and read, I
think that the best choice is really just using ones name- and I would include my middle initial
as there could be others with my same first and last name and I want those who are looking for
me to find the real me. This same name should be used for all digital presences. In this blog
post, Couros shared some of the reasons that he doesnt have both personal and public social
media accounts, but carefully blends them. He illustrated how there truly is no personal and one
may think that an email or post is private, but it isnt and as teachers we need to be very
cognizant of this. We need to maintain a professional presence online and be careful about what
we share. Couros also thinks we need to educate students on what is appropriate to publish
online. He also has no problems having one account because as he stated, is it really bad if we
mix some of our personality into a professional account? If we are thoughtful about it, could
this not help our students and school community see us more than simply teachers but as
people? The best teachers that I know always connect with students on some personal level, but
they always keep it appropriate. Is that not the rule of thumb that we could use online? (Couros,
2013, para 11)
I am learning more and more that social media is a way to grow my professional learning
network. It is easy to do online searches and find information; we all do this all the time, so why
not find methods to use this for improving our educational abilities and practices. I have learned
that we can find like educators even by using Twitter and searching #math or other options. Im
learning more and more how important networking is in education and improving my teaching.
There are other options like blogs or creating webpages as well. When using these resources, I
will not just use them to find information, but I will also share things that I have found effective

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in teaching. As I have said, it is important to network and this means that you need to be willing
to give and not just take. By sharing, you may even grow your network as others could find you
are willing to share or collaborate and then they will reach out to you.
I think social media can improve my professionalism if I take the time and put forth the
effort to create a positive digital footprint. Having a place where others can learn about you and
connect with you will allow you to not only show your positive qualities, but you can make
connections with others. Long shared in Networking that Works, that although teachers need to
be careful, using social media carefully and professionally is a way to grow ones network and
find resources. Some of the teachers shared how they use social media to connect with others,
innovate, grow and learn. The article provided a list of social networking sites for teachers.
To manage the amount of social media, I plan to pick one or two options to make my
digital presence and then keep them up to date and professional. By updating it, I can highlight
new things I am doing or have learned, and also am showing that I embrace the correct use of
social media. I think having a large number of accounts could be overwhelming one, and it
would be nearly impossible to keep all current and accurate. I want to be professional in all that
I do, and having limited accounts will allow this, while still giving me a positive digital footprint.

References
Couros, G. (2012, Nov18). Personal and professional vs. public and private [Web log post].
Retrieved from http://georgecouros.ca/blog/archives/3432 .
Ferriter, W. ( 2010, Dec/ 2011 Jan) Digitally speaking/ Using social media to reach your
community. The Effective Educator in Educational Leadership. (68)4, 87 88. Retrieved

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from http://www.ascd.org/publications/educationalleadership/dec10/vol68/num04/Using-Social-Media-to-Reach-Your-Community.aspx
Jalger. (2011, April 11) The power of a positive digital footprint for students [Web log post].
Edjudo- Education and Technology Website. Retrieved from http://edjudo.com/thepower-of-a-positive-digital-footprint-for-students.html
Long, C. (2010). Networking that works. National Education Association Website. Retrieved
from http://www.nea.org/home/38324.htm.
Simpson, Mike. (2010) Social networking nightmares, cyberspeak no evil. National Education
Association Website. Retrieved from http://www.nea.org/home/38324.htm.