Forever and Ever, Amen.

When I was a child, my mother said “I’ll love you forever and ever, amen” every night when she put me to bed.  As an adult, the phrase “forever and ever, amen” frequently echoes in my mind.  It’s sentimental and a little bit nerdy, but Mom’s voice is especially loud when I am talking with students about the good, the bad and the ugly of digital footprints.

Digital footprints are something that every high school senior, soon to be college grad, and hopeful job applicant is (or should be) thinking about. There are lots of examples of digital footprints gone wrong, but (as a UNC grad!) this is one of my favorites.

The Duke PowerPoint Presentation.

The Duke PowerPoint. Impressive for its detail, its lack of shame (not that there necessarily should be- No Judgement!), its predilection for libraries, and its “nail in the coffin” guarantee against future jobs other than those in X-rated industries or possibly a PhD in Sexuality Studies. I mean, her balance of qualitative and quantitative data is admirable.

Now that I’ve grabbed your attention with the “Once it’s on the Internet, you can’t get it back” factor, let’s turn to the positives of how online portfolios can get students into university and adults into their dream jobs.  There are a ton of excellent resources online about students’ digital footprints and electronic portfolios.  Here are a few of my favorites:

Digital Footprints

Common Sense Media – I’ve put together a Sqworl of their Digital Footprint Resources.  These people are amazing.  Don’t reinvent the wheel; just drive their car.

Teaching Children about Digital Footprints – Kathleen Morris, who is an EdTech goddess, posted this past February about how she is addressing digital footprints with grade four.  As always, she is calm and reasonable about this topic that can get a lot of people HEATED.

Electronic Portfolios

High Tech High Portfolios – Every student and teacher at the HTH schools have a digital portfolio.  It’s an impressive initiative, and it’s nice to explore the many examples on this site.

Introduction to K-12 ePortfolios – This is the workspace for an online course Introduction to E-Portfolios in K-12 Schools, developed by Dr. Helen Barrett.  It’s text-heavy, but it includes a wealth of information.

Blogs as Showcase Portfolios– COETAIL’s own Kim Cofino posted about the process of starting to use students’ blogs as a place to showcase and reflect on their work.  It seems obvious to me that this is where all schools should move.

Here’s my hitlist of what students should have in their digital footprint:

  • LinkedIn. As early as Year 11, but certainly as they graduate from high school, students need to create an account to showcase their professional selves and maintain the academic connections they made in high school.
  • Examples of work shared in an online platform. This could be through a formal portfolio, a variety of social networking sites, a variety of class blogs or a personal academic blog.
  • Positive examples of their personal interests. Students are more than good grades, SAT scores and honor society memberships.  They’re also readers, writers, actors, singers, coders, and gamers.  Accounts with online communities like GoodReads are a great way to show off their interests and have fun.

As far as teachers are concerned, I don’t want to work anywhere that would hire a librarian without a thorough professional digital footprint.  If you want to think more deeply about what digital portfolios for educators should/could look like, I recommend you read Kim Cofino’s post on Resume Redesign.

Kids and adults alike need to be aware of their digital footprint.  Part of our role as teachers is to help them cultivate an online persona of which they can be proud “forever and ever, amen”.

8 thoughts on “Forever and Ever, Amen.

  1. Great article with great resources! I had been living under a rock and missed the whole Duke PP – another good example of a poor choice impacting one’s “digital tattoo”.
    Do you use LinkedIn? Is it worth it as an educator? I don’t, but maybe I should?
    Also, do LIS students have digital portfolios/blogs? We do, and I am always trying to improve what we have and love to look at other examples and see what other schools are doing. Let me know if you do or if you have other good examples of those! I think they are great ways to not only show growth and learning, but to balance what students do in their social media with the great work they are doing at school which ultimately benefits their digital footprint.

    • Hi Julie,

      I do use LinkedIn (you can check out my profile) and what I like about it for educators is that I can stay connected to ex-colleagues without having to connect on Facebook. I like to keep my FB completely disconnected from my current job. It feels like a little social oasis then. There are more and more international educators on it everyday, is what I’m seeing. As you head out onto the job front, it’s not a bad idea to be thinking about it, if only to see who you know that knows someone where you might want to work.

      We don’t have digital portfolios, although we are moving slowly into blogs. There’s a few amazing examples like our Spanish B teacher Carolina and Chloe, our English B teacher. As always happens, other teachers are starting to notice, and we’ll be signing up more people for next August to start the year with blogs. I know Carolina is moving towards having her students create digital portfolios for three-way conferences in May. I’m hoping this example will mean that once other teachers see how awesome that is, we’ll all move int his direction. Of course, change takes time.

      Thanks for your comment,

  2. Hi Katy,
    Thanks for a great blog post. I also missed the Duke PP story (must have been under the same rock as Julie) ;-). Thanks for creating the Sqworl-another new tool for me. I love CommonSense Media too-I often just get in and drive the car as you say! Your hitlist for students is accurate and complete-I especially like the idea of GoodReads or another positive way to share interests.

    • Hey Beth,

      As always, thanks for your kind comment. Sqworl is pretty cool, right? Just a nice way to get a list of resources together for people. They aslo have a bookmarklet to make it easy to do on the fly.

      The Duke PP is one of my faves, purely because it is so, so horrifying.

      Have a great Sunday,

  3. Hi Katy,

    EdTech goddess, wow! That really made my Sunday 🙂

    Thanks so much for the kind words and links to some wonderful resources.


    • Hi Kathleen,

      It’s hard creating new resources when all I ever want to say is, “Can’t we just use what Kathleen Morris put together for this?” 🙂 Thank you for all of your amazing sharing online. It gives us something to aspire to.

      Keep up the great work,

  4. Hi Katy,

    Thanks for a great post! I will definitely use some of those resources you shared. I have also been thinking about my resume and how boring it is. It is definitely time to re-invent it:)

    • Hey there Tim,

      Thanks for visiting. 🙂 If you are thinking about creating a more visually compelling resume, you should check out Nick Corben’s post, The Digital Footprint. He is doing some really interesting stuff with funky resumes.

      Happy Re-designing,


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