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Digital Footprint; More Boom than Bust

"If Google sees that you're searching for specific programming terms, they'll ask you to apply for a job. It's wild." - Max Rosett, theHustle

The common dialogue is to tell learners, young and old, to tread lightly into the digital fray. Digital footprints are permanent, thus, there is danger afoot. Certainly, there is potential for long-term damage to one's reputation by sharing material, or information that paints us in a negative light. Conversely, our online activities can be very advantageous to our personal and professional growth.


Like many folks, I enjoy listening to music while driving. Additionally, I frequently use time behind the wheel to get caught up on current events. Yesterday, while riding in the car with my teenage sons, we listened to a story explaining how Google uses computer algorithms to identify potential programmers and software engineers. Predictably, my sons started hypothesizing.

Trevor asked, "I wonder if Microsoft and Sony are tracking my gaming, and evaluating my skills?"

"Minecraft and League of Legends could be used by employers to judge a person's problem-solving abilities.", added J. P. 

We laughed at some of the extreme possibilities, but our discussion was closer to the truth than fiction. More employers are utilizing a variety of measures and assessments for evaluating candidates for hire. Some of these include online challenges hidden from most visitors. One of the easiest, and most frequently used, techniques used by human resource personnel is the simple, yet effective, Google search. More than 90% of hiring agents will search a person's name prior to scheduling an interview. College recruiters are following suit. 

"Although a resume has a place in many institutions, a digital portfolio definitely can be seen as giving someone an advantage as it gives a deeper look into someone’s skill sets, and is accessible 24/7." - The 10 Reasons I Ignored Your Resume... George Couros, 2015

A friend and colleague, Fatimma, is going through the process to change her last name to her husband's last name. The U. S. Department of Homeland Security, as you would guess, had a series of questionnaires as part of her processing. During the interview phase, a government employee asked Fatimma to divulge her social media presence and confirm that she has not posted any threatening, or dangerous messages. A Google search confirmed her Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts, and the spirit of their communication.

"What are you doing to make sure your students are well-Googled?" - Bill Ferriter / Will Richardson, 2012

The realization is, knowing how our modern "real world" works, now is not the time for learners to bury their heads in the sand. The prompt on this week's #EdSlowChat on Twitter asks, "What are the top things your students should know in order to be considered digitally literate?"

My response mirrors the perspective of several of our most influential PLN members. Our students need to understand the far-reaching impact of their online activities. They also need to be aware of the advantages of having a positive digital footprint that contributes to the betterment of others. It behooves educators to learn more about making themselves "well-Googled" in order to encourage and guide our younger learners with their own digital literacy.  As Tom Whitby says, "If we are to better educate our kids, we need first to better educate their educators."

How would you respond to this question?


"What are the top things your students should know in order to be considered digitally literate?" 

Your words are welcome in the comment section, or on Twitter using the #EdSlowChat hashtag.


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photo credit: © EndYmioN – Damien Guyon. Tous droits réservés - Projet Laputa via photopin (license)

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