As I was reading up on digital citizenship and how to create a positive online presence a song from Anne of Green Gables The Musical kept coming to my head. The song in question was Where is Matthew going? During the song the Ladies of Avenonlea are intrigued by Matthew’s actions and pondered what it is he is doing. Finally at the end of the song Marilla, Matthew’s brother, walks by the ladies and explains what Matthew is doing. This particular number highlights the common perception (some may argue truth) that there is no privacy to be had on Prince Edward Island because everyone is watching what everyone else is doing. While pondering the readings, I could not help but ask myself has the Internet helped the world become like Avonlea, a place where anyone who is interested can find out information about you and use that information to draw their own conclusions?
The short answer is more than likely yes. Google, Facebook, Myspace, Foursquare, WordPress and other social media sites have transformed the way people view their privacy and the information people put out publicly. Teachers are particularly vulnerable to being at risk of experiencing the negative side of social media. I say this because teachers, as well as some other professions, are viewed in this odd space. We are expected to be role models for the students and society, which means, to some people, that we must be perfect citizens who never do anything anyone might find objectionable. However, this is not the case. Teachers are human and no human is perfect and therefore mistakes will happen. Or we will express an opinion or a thought that may counter with what others hoped we would express. The downside is that there are people who will raise complaints and ask for people to be fired based on a picture or a comment shared in either or public or a private space online.
As I searched for more articles, I kept thinking about my own digital life and behaviours. As teachers, wait as people, I believe that ultimately the responsibility of creating a positive digital footprint is up to the individual. Not only is this important because what you post can cost you your job but more and more employers are weeding out possible employees based upon their online presence. Finally, if we are expecting our students to represent themselves online in a positive light then it is only reasonable that we should as well.
Throughout the week I also started contemplating the importance of teaching students the skills necessary to create a positive online presence. Truly this is an important skill, every year there have been more and more stories about students who have posted something online that has caused them to get into trouble. If they are not shown how to best represent themselves or shown the possible results of poor online representation, I feel that we are doing them a great disservice.
In short, I believe that teachers should have a positive online presence and that students should be shown the tools, taught the skills, and have guidelines explained to them to do so. However, when the tools, skills, and guidelines are always changing, how does one stay on top of it all? Also, how much sharing is too much, what is the line that people, more specifically teachers, should not cross when posting to a public forum?
Social Media Garden by j&tplaman on Flickr, Creative Commons Licensed
020/2011 footprints by rosipaw on Flickr, Creative Commons Licensed
Overture-Great Workers for the Cause-Where is Matthew Going, Anne of Green Gables The Musical uploaded to YouTube by CorrAgain
!!Teacher Forces to Quit Over Facebook Photos!! uploaded to YouTube by NATUREANDNEWS