Rethinking the dreaded digital footprint

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Instructional Tech Talk

Thank you Amy Burvall @amyburvall for sharing the above article by Jeff Herb @InstTechTalk asking us to rethink what a digital footprint can mean for a teacher in the recruiting process.  I think that schools as employers (and colleges/universities) are still reacting to an applicant’s potential digital history with trepidation – searching for something dark, just to be safe. Although at some level, this is undoubtedly necessary, it is a bleak approach to digital footprints, and one out of touch with the reality of digitally connected professionals.

The article suggests that we inquire into an applicant’s digital presence with a mind to strengthen their application, not to deny it. In today’s education systems, digital literacy hasn’t been synonymous with accessing information for a long time. It is now heavily, and increasingly concerned with the production of content and the creation of meaning in collaborative settings. For this reason, a teacher applicant with a strong, positive and professional digital footprint is both what the schools should be looking for, and what teacher applicants should be highlighting. From this, it would seem safe to say that the crafting of a healthy, positive digital footprint should be a skill that all our students learn in school today. 


Intellectual Property – a changing world


Monkey Selfie: Love this image from article by Bruce Kasanoff, ‘Friday Fun: How This Monkey Went Viral’

Even though this monkey stole the camera from an unsuspecting wildlife photographer, the intellectual rights to the photo belong to the camera-monkey that took it, not the owner of the camera. Simple. It’s a fun story, as the image is hugely popular now and the owner of the camera who recovered his equipment and initially shared the image is claiming the intellectual property rights for it. No can do – everyone, including the money, says.

It does make you wonder when students needed to start worrying about such issues; academic honesty and intellectual property. Being a 1987 HS graduate, I never had to worry because it was impossible to publish anything that wasn’t for your teacher. Short of photocopying and distributing by hand images from Encyclopedia Britannic, it wasn’t an environment where you could really infringe anyone’s copyright, even if you wanted to. Students didn’t publish. For this reason, it was deemed a university issue and received little attention in schools.

Times have changed and I wonder how much our current problem of dealing successfully with academic honesty and the respect of intellectual property in schools comes from the time it is taking for the Encyclopedia generation to come to terms with the ease of student publishing, let alone the meteoric rise of the monkey-artist.