Friday, August 19, 2011

Discover what your digital footprint says about you

Does your digital footprint convey the message you want? If you don't know you should spend time figuring this out. In the 21st century our digital footprint conveys an important image and people should know what that is.  Below are ideas that will enable you to explore and consider if your digital footprint conveys the message you want to share with the world.  It will also give you ideas for activities you can do with your students so they can do the same.

General Internet Footprint
Here are some basics to get you started in discovering what your general footprint is on the internet.  Start your personal discovery and begin reflecting on the questions below.   
  • Google yourself.
    Start in the obvious way and just Google yourself by typing your name into Google’s search box in whatever way(s) someone doing a search about you might i.e. John Smith, teacher. Take a look at what you see.
  • Use Google Alerts to monitor what others are saying about you
    Sign up for Google Alerts to receive email updates of the latest relevant Google results about you by simply visiting the site and entering your name. You can click preview to see the type of results you'll receive.
  • Spezify who you are.
    Spezify is a search tool presenting results from a large number of websites in different visual ways. The site moves web search away from endless lists of blue text links and towards a more intuitive experience giving viewers an overview of a subject. The site mixes all media types: blogs, videos, microblogs and images. Everything communicates and helps building the bigger picture.
  • People Searches
    There are several people searches.  Are you listed?  Here are some common ones to check. |  |
    While the initial reaction by some when they discover they are listed is concern, keep in mind that people have been listed in phone books for a very long time. There is no evidence that having this information available is cause for concern. Instead, the primary cause of danger is rarely by strangers.  Instead  when it comes to maltreatment of children the number one source is in the home followed by a close friend or family member.  Source:
    U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Administration for Children & Families Child Maltreatment
Reflect Upon Your Social Media Footprint with Recap Apps 
Recap apps are a great tool for teachers to get to know students and for students to get to know each other.  It provides a vehicle for students to reflect upon what messages they are sharing with their friends over the past year. You may want to ask students to create a status collage of what they might want their message to be in the new year or ask them what their photos may represent. It also provides a fantastic way for students to get ideas for further sharing and publishing about the topic they are most expert in...themselves.
  1. Twitter
    • Reflect upon what you are saying with a cloud at and enter your username.
      Note:  If you don’t have a Twitter account sign up.  Make a cloud searching other people or current events on Twitter.
  2. Facebook
    Note:  If you don’t have a Facebook Account partner with someone who does so you can understand what this looks like.  
Your Digital Footprint Analysis.
    • What are proud of?
    • What are you surprised to see?  
    • Is there anything you are embarrassed about?
    • What might you want to change or do in the future to ensure your footprint accurately represents the picture you want to convey?
Suggested activities 
What activities might you do with young people?
    • Personal Narrative
      • Have students write a memoir based on their status collages or pictures. They may pick one update/picture or build upon a theme.
      • Have students create a year in review video highlighting their status collage updates or their year in photos.
      • Have students create one, or a number of, personal narrative audio cast or Voki based on their status collage updates.
    • Team building ideas to help students learn and connect.
      • Have students print out their recap app and let students identify which belongs to which student. With the photo app, you may want to count how many other schoolmates are in each student's collage.
      • Have students tag their recap app in Flickr using a teacher created account and in the comment box either place a recap app narrative or use the comment box to guess who the app belongs to.
      • Have student compare and contrast their recap app. They could write a narrative explaining what they have in common and might never have in common with another class member.
      • Have students place their app as a note on FB and tag 20 of their friends asking them to share their thoughts perhaps with an interesting question i.e. what surprised you, stood out, or could you relate to.
    • Arts and Crafts
      • Print the recap apps onto iron on paper and make tee shirts with students word clouds on the back. This could even be used as a fundraiser.
      • Use the recap apps to decorate a "Year in Review" in photos and words bulletin board.


  1. I will make use of these classroom suggestions, thank you. I'm wondering how our idea of digital footprint--something I've always imagined as being made up of items we post ourselves compares to the idea of a digital dossier presented in this video: Information that has been recorded digitally about many of the net generation since their births.

  2. Very cool info on discovering what our digital footprint says about us! Along with the actions mentioned in your article we must also take steps to preserve our digital footprint. We can use websites like World Without Me to store our valuable digital footprint like emails, social statuses, etc. for posterity so that our future generations have a peek into our lives.