Thursday, February 18, 2010

Teaching Kids to Manage their Digital Footprint - 140 Character Conference Panel Discussion

badge5I am presenting at The 140 Characters Conference in New York City which is taking place April 20-21, 2010 at the 92nd Street Y in Manhattan. This event is the largest worldwide gathering of people interested in the effects of the real-time Internet on business, education, and “we” the people. Some of the other speakers include Ann Curry, NBC News (@AnnCurry), Chris Lehmann, Principal of the Science Leadership Academy, (@chrislehmann), Donny Deustch (@Donny_Deutsch), Ivanka Trump (@IvankaTrump), and MC Hammer (@MCHammer).

I will be a part of the Twitter and Education panel. Specifically I'll be discussing:

1) Teaching Kids how to manage their Digital Footprint
2) Why Social Media Curriculum is critical in schools
3) Technology usage to enhance collaboration and development

In anticipation of the conference I'm writing a post about each topic starting with this one.

Teaching Kids how to manage their Digital Footprint

Teaching kids to manage their Digital Footprint really starts with the adults. Teachers can't teach this effectively if they, themselves have not managed their own digital footprint. It is also important not to confuse managing a digital footprint with being hidden or private. Branding our identities has become more and more important in the digital age and if students and teachers aren't actively managing their digital footprint, then who is? Managing your digital footprint starts with asking questions like: Who are you? What do you stand for? What are your passions and beliefs? The important lesson with managing your digital footprint is that everything we do online should represent who we are and what we stand for and we must have the knowledge that this representation will stick with us potentially forever.

How can we teach students and teachers to celebrate themselves and their beliefs so that their digital footprint represents a picture of someone they are proud to be? I've written about some fun ways to get these conversations going by helping students reflect upon what their digital message says about them. An interesting way to start such a conversation might be with this video which really can get students and their teachers thinking about who they are and what they stand for.

Two questions that can change your life from Daniel Pink on Vimeo.

After watching and discussing the video, for homework teachers can assign a number of fun and engaging activities that students can do at, or away from, school depending on what sites are blocked in their particular school. I like to call these applications "Recap Apps" because they allow students to take a look at a recap of who they have been in their online life. Students using Facebook or Twitter can generate status clouds that recap what their message has been over a specified period of time i.e. 1, 3, 6, or 12 months. The clouds provide the function of a Wordle and allows students to easily visual the dominant messages they have been conveying. After review their clouds students can reflect upon whether or not this message is in alignment with what they want their digital footprint to be and how they may modify their online behavior to ensure they are promoting themselves as the person they want to be. There is also an app that allows Facebook users to recap their year in pictures. The same reflective exercise can be put in place. Do these pictures represent the way I see myself and want others to see me? Another fun app is one that provides a recap of your status updates in a sort of poem card format. This gives another perspective on the digital footprint that students and teachers are developing. Finally, inspired by the show Flashforward, an app has been designed that provides a glimpse into each members possible future. This could be a great follow up activity inspiring conversations about what their future digital footprint might look like.

If you are thinking about attending #140conf NYC, now would be a great time to secure your seat. With the “early bird” ticket costing only US$ 100 for the two day event or $60 for one day. You can register NOW to guarantee youself access to the event. “Early Bird” registration ends on March 6th. The format at the #140conf events is unique. Individual talks are 5 and 10 minutes, keynotes are 15 and 20 minutes and panel discussions are no more than 20 minutes. During the course of the two days more than 140 people will share the stage at the 92nd Street Y in about 70 sessions. To get a feel of the energy you may experience in April, click here to review the videos from the 2009 #140conf NYC. The take aways from this event will provide the attending delegates knowledge, perspectives and insights to the next wave of effects twitter and the real-time internet will have on business and education in 2010 and beyond.


Read more about digital footprints from Cybraryman at


  1. Registering immediately...after I get approval from my principal to miss 2 days for "work/life related conferencing..." I wonder if it would be worth it to bring a couple students along to hear what's ultimately really about them, since they have the most at stake in this "online identity crisis."

    I'm also going to share this video in a few places as well, our school page, facebook and twitter to start with. The "was I better today than yesterday?" is a great daily reflective practice. So simple, but could be so effective.

    Thanks for sharing.

  2. I hope this is a good event - I would encourage you to go beyond the mundane stuff of watch out for what you say on-line, recoded forever, be professional etc etc - 100% these are important but there is an urgent need to up the game and present that the digital footprint message is moving on to become an understanding of who influences you and how you influence - this has much wider economic and social effects - I have explored this in a book, that is a conversation, at


  3. The concept of the "digital footprint" sounds as dubious as the term it obviously derives from--"carbon footprint."

    I have an idea ... why not assign homework that compels students to step away from their computers for a period of time?

    Let's return to letting common sense guide our thinking, instead of simply relying on an arbitrary calendar coordinate.