Once again, I found myself at an intersection between my learning (formal) and my professional practice. This session, in both of my own courses (in which I am enrolled) we examined our online or digital footprint. The digital footprint is defined as the “information left in cyberspace about someone (Ribble, eVersion, p. 29).I reflected on the why’s or why not’s as to how much or how little I engage and how I try to protect my online persona. This blog posting in my New Media course captures a great deal of how I feel in terms of digital communication, especially around the challenge of incorporating basic netiquette in our interactions. Read here and you will get a sense of the online me and how I am somewhat conflicted in what I disclose.
However, I strongly believe in the correlation between fundamental Netiquette as a practice and being a ‘good digital citizen’ (Ribble, 2011) in the online world in which we are now living. We have been asked if we want a digital footprint. I believe that if we engage in any sort of dialogic online communication, it is inevitable. Ainslie (2009) does an excellent job of synthesizing the merits to educators of the value of staying engaged digitally in order to enhance personal, and therefore, student learning. He also gives excellent suggestions as to how to easily set up ways of monitoring our own digital footprint – something that I have not yet done (and find a wee bit daunting!)
Ribble (2011) states that all of us must learn and practice within the norms of the digital society (eVersion, p. 3). I agree. How then can we continue to promote the inherent advantages of managing our online presence? Once again this week, I was confronted with overt Facebook bullying between my (post-secondary) students. Of course, this engendered a multitude of feelings and conversation from all sides, without any judgments being applied.
To me, this is understanding the digital footprint in action. Our Netiquette readings this week (which BTW, should be required reading for anyone engaging in online interactions) ask us to “remember the human.” If we consider the impact on those around of us of what we say in person, then we should consider the impact of our digital interactions. We must also consider the impact on our own digital footprint when we engage in a way that may not represent us in the best possible light.
In a world where cyberbullying is receiving widespread attention and where misdeeds can be transmitted with the forwarding of a screen grab, or a Tweet or a smartphone photograph, maintaining a positive digital footprint should be something to which all of us ascribe.
Great learning and development for me, indeed!