What will you leave behind?

26 Oct

When thinking about a digital footprint the evolution of technology has increased the capability to create it on a massive scale. We post, tweet and Instagram constantly and each action forms a part of our online identity.

foot print

Samuel Rich via Compfight cc

My footprint …

The Fragmented Educator makes a lot of sense and helps explain what I have been feeling … Acceptable identity fragment. Although my participation in social media has been authentic it is certainly within a constraint of what I feel is “acceptable” to my audience. I am very mindful of not venting about my role as an educator on social media. Because social media (primarily Facebook for me) keeps record of everything I have shared and uses its algorithms to bend my identity and determine what my audience sees, can I ever be completely authentic?


“Furthermore, when you have no idea how you are being made to appear to your ffriends, you are hardly the author of your identity. If Facebook continues to apply filtering algorithms based on invisible criteria, you will never be more than the co-author of your identity”

Our children…

More and more parents are creating their child’s digital footprint before they even enter the world. The sonograms are on Facebook or flooding the Twitter feed. I have friends on both sides of the extreme for their own reasons. One set of parents have thousands of photos with a continuous narrative of their child on Instagram. They want to share with family that live a significant distance away. On the opposite side of the scale one of my relatives asked that there was no mention on social media of her pregnancy. She did not post and in fact waited until a few days after to post an announcement. Both valid and very personal reasons.


The article Digital Birth: Welcome to the Online World cautions us about how much we are sharing about our children. “First, you are creating a digital history for a human being that will follow him or her for the rest of their life. What kind of footprint do you actually want to start for your child, and what will they think about the information you’ve uploaded in future?” Once it is online, even though you think you remove or delete it, it still remains.

As educators …

When we post online it is important to remember that we are held to a high moral standard. Furthermore, as educators in a Faith-Based school this level is raised significantly. There are so many people trolling looking for the next piece of gossip or phrase to misconstrue.

Do educators have freedom to post whatever they want on their Facebook or Twitter account without it reflecting poorly on the institution?

Social media is over run with drama and bad decisions. The special education teacher that posted her student was a “hot mess” clearly felt that she could post freely. We need to remember that “The simplest thing, though, for teachers (and anyone else, for that matter) to learn is that Facebook and other parts of the Web are really the local town crier”. So what are the ethical considerations of online behavior as an educator?

Our students…

As indicated in Media Smarts Young Canadians in a Wired World kids today have online access in multiple platforms on devices that are usually portable. This means wherever they go they are connected.

The study indicated that girls are more likely to have online rules than boys. This got me thinking about my own children. They have both been very connected from a young age. Unlike the study says though they had the same online rules for the computer but I must admit that I was way more flexible with my son playing online with a gaming console however I don’t believe this was a gender thing. But what about other households?

When we consider that this study found that seven of the most popular websites are those that you can “post and share information and content” it is imperative that we teach students digital literacy skills. They need to “understand privacy, digital permanence, ethical decision making and protecting personal information”.


Posted by on October 26, 2015 in EC&I832


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6 responses to “What will you leave behind?

  1. asingh2

    October 27, 2015 at 3:28 am

    Jeannine – thanks for sharing your thoughts! I loved that fact that you talked about allowing parents the right to choose if/what they are sharing on SM. One of my sister’s posted on FB while I was in labour and I remember being so upset with her, because then I had many people posting on my wall while I was enduring labour and waiting to meet my youngest. I know she was just excited, and wanting to share the excitement-however that should be my choice, not anyone else’s!

    I also often contemplate the ‘rules’ for technology in our house. My daughter (7) seems technology obsessed at times (although after the readings and considering how ‘connected’ I can be- I may have an understanding of where that is coming from). She started getting into the habit of taking any device that she could get her hands on to search different things, or listen to music etc. We’ve now started the you need to ask (and provide the reason for wanting to go on) before you go on technology rule. But then I’m left to wonder- am I teaching her to be a good digital citizen, or just being a technology warden?


    • Jeannine Whitehouse

      October 31, 2015 at 3:31 am

      Thank you Amy! I like that term “Technology warden” and have to admit that was what I was and really what I think most of the parents of students in my class are. I was unaware of how to teach my own children responsible digital citizenship. I still feel that I don’t have a solid grasp of SM and such in the same capacity as my students. So is that a generational thing or just a failure to continue to educate ourselves?


  2. Jenn

    October 30, 2015 at 2:22 am

    Awesome post as always Jeannine! I agree that as educators you really can’t just post whatever you want even if it’s your private life. Growing up in a small town, I recall that teachers had to be very attentive of their reputation and how they modelled for our students. With Social Media making our world feel smaller or connected, it seems like it’s the same deal. Not only do teachers need to be aware of what they are posting, but what they post and in what time they are posting. It’s all public perception. The truth is, if a teacher engages in SM, they do need to consider that public perception piece.



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