Digital Stamps/footprints…. Call it what you want, what mark will you leave?


Last week I signed my class up to participate in the 2015 Online Anti-bullying form. Upon reviewing the teacher facilitation guide I came across an excellent video clip titled Digital Dossier. Your digital dossier is all the information that is created about you over your life. This starts at birth and continues even after you die. Then earlier this week, Barbara DeWitt, recently shared a TED talk titled Digital Footprints by Michelle Clark. In this video she talks about responsible use of the internet and the importance of building genuine relationships. Sometimes educators find it difficult to connect with youth when talking about Social Media because sometimes they are not as heavily involved in the pressures that come with social media. Likewise, sometimes youth think that their teachers just don’t understand.  Clark uses poetry to assist her in making connections with youth. She shares examples of when we make our lives public we may face consequences in the future. She discussed how sometimes people feel they are exercising their right to self expression. However, later this can come back to haunt us. One example she shared was  of a young man who had been accepted to his dream university only to have the acceptance rescinded due to a post he had made on facebook. Rather than be devastated by the consequences of our online actions Clark offers the following suggestions:

  • Slow down, take time to think before you post
  • She asks you to consider, “How does this instant information impact our hopes and dreams?”
  • Ask yourself: “How could this information be interpreted? or released?”

She closes by reminding us that digital decisions can last a life time. There is no Ctrl+Z once you have made something available online. This week I explored author, Erik Qualman’s TED talk My Digital Stamp. In his talk, he poses the question: “How are people going to remember you?” He explains that each of us now has the opportunity through social media to become a mini-celebrity. We do this through our digital stamp. Qualman outlines two ways to contribute to our digital stamp:

  1. Digital footprints-  These are things you post yourself. For example, videos you upload, things you tweet, fb statuses you post.
  2. Digital Shadows- These are the things OTHERS post about you. This could be of your online OR offline activity. For example, the old saying, What happens in Vegas…….. could now end up on YouTube.

Erik Qualman outlines 5 habits of people who demonstrate leadership online (STAMP):

S- Simple- Not everything we do we need to post.

T- True- Do  a vanity search. Envision your funeral. What would you want people to see?

A- Act- Most of the things we do online are throughput (tweets, answering emails, nothing to show for it).

– Focus on output: “What are you creating?”

M- Map – Have a destination in mind but allow your path to have some flexibility.

P- People- Surround yourself with the right people

Each one of us will take a different path. Qualman talks about being “flawsome”. This means that through our flaws we can showcase how awesome we are. However, from previous class discussions we have explored that true forgiveness is not common. Lastly, Qualman reminds us that the internet is a valuable tool. We need to make intelligent choices and sensor what we enter on the keyboard. How will you leave your best stamp? Reflect on Erik’s questions. Rather than seeking likes or follows, consider: How can I create something of value to others? How can I “Post it foraward”? What can I do for others? When we create genuine posts, the likes and follows will come.


Are devices divisive? Using devices wisely in today’s digital world.

Photo Credit: Sizzo-grafy via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: Sizzo-grafy via Compfight cc

We’ve all done it. We’re in a conversation with friends and someone says something we feel is slightly less than accurate and we pull out our phones to “fact check”. Google is at our fingertips and we have become a culture that requires immediate information. Sherry Turkle’s article, Stop Googling. Let’s Talk. explains the effects when we divide our attention. Even something as simple as having a screen on the table disrupts the flow of conversation.

Turkle states, “It’s what texting does to our conversations when we are together that’s the problem.”  She explains we restrict ourselves from having meaningful conversations when we let our devices interfere. Simply having the device between you, even if not using it,  is enough to disrupt conversation. It lights up on the table and we naturally glance down. I have not heard of the “rule of three” before but its sad that it needs to exist Turkle explains the rule of three as follows:  “In a conversation among five or six people at dinner, you have to check that three people are paying attention — heads up — before you give yourself permission to look down at your phone. So conversation proceeds, but with different people having their heads up at different times”.

People spend a lot of time on their devices. We keep in touch with friends by shooting texts back and fourth. Life gets busy and its easier than actually getting together. More commonly people opt to text than talk. Rather than picking up the phone people choose to text for many reasons. Some feel it is less of an interruption. It gives people time to think about their responses and respond at their leisure.  We Never Talk Anymore: The Problem with Text Messaging by Jeffrey Kluger expresses concern for our youth because they are  no longer developing the skills necessary to initiate and maintain a conversation. They also don’t get the practice to interpret non-verbal cues. Some youth shared that conversations make them uncomfortable because they simply don’t know how to communicate face-to-face.

Photo Credit: Pauls-Pictures via Compfight cc
Photo Credit: Pauls-Pictures via Compfight cc

We commonly hear the phrase lately, “together, yet alone”. So frequently while out you see people on their phones; couples in restaurants that barely speak; Individuals that can barely put their phones down to pay for groceries. The photo on the left shows a mother and daughter out spending “quality time” together shopping, while glued to their personal devices. However, I wonder who took this picture? Did it have a purpose? or could these ladies victims of online shaming? These ladies may have had a great device-free day together and for one minute, mom may be making arrangements for transportation while her daughter returns a quick text. It could quickly be posted online and others will quickly form judgments with no background knowledge at all. You may have come across the post about the girls taking selfies at a game . The article, What you need to know about those selfie girls demonstrates the importance of viewing what we see online critically because things aren’t always what they seem.

Recently a story was featured on Global News, that highlighted an Instagram account that was created called “passenger shaming” where photos were posted of people doing undesirable behaviours on airplanes such as trimming toe nails, treating warts etc. The photos appear to be taken without the others knowledge. As of today #passengershaming has over 4000 posts. While I don’t endorse any of the behaviours posted on the account I am almost as disgusted at the people who posted them.  If the poster was so disturbed by the behavior, politely asking the person to stop would have been more helpful than posting it online. It seems like a cry for “likes”.

We really need to think about what we post online! What is the purpose? We need to teach our students about carefully selecting what they post but also need to model this ourselves. Jennifer Stewart Mitchell shared an excellent YouTube video created by Common Sense Media called oversharing. Think before you post peeps… no one cares what you had for breakfast.


My shifting thoughts

inernet danger

A few years ago our school division had us complete a strengthfinders quiz. You complete an online survey and it generates your top 5 strengths.

My Top 5 Strengths

1 Discipline
2 Learner
3 Focus
4 Individualization
5 Achiever

I spent quite some time viewing the videos, reading the articles and sorting out my thoughts. The “Learner” in me enjoys learning new things in both a formal and informal educational setting. I appreciate opportunities to learn more about a topic and form a deeper understanding.  I find it very powerful when the new knowledge I have acquired causes me to shift the ideas I have. These readings did exactly that.

Prior to these course readings, my views on how people engage and develop technological skills greatly coincided with the thoughts in the video,  Do “Digital Natives” Exist?  Mark Prensky believes todays youth are digital natives.  He refers to them as people who have grown up with machines and technology and therefore it comes naturally to them. Alternatively he classifies older people as digital immigrants. These ideas are very much two extremes, which are determined primarily by age alone. However, after watching David White’s video Visitors and Residents, some of my views have shifted.  Classifying individuals simply as natives or immigrants based on age is not possible. People bring different experiences with them. One line that stuck with me from Prensky’s video is that, “its bad to assume students know how to “computer”. He goes on to note that it is through context, immersion and practice that they learn. Some students may come from backgrounds where they have little access to technology and the internet. Just because they have been born in a time filled with technology does not mean they have had the chance to use it.  If context, immersion and practice are the factors that contribute to learning to navigate our 21st century world age is irrelevant. Anyone who has access and is willing to spend the time, explore and immerse themselves can thrive in this digital world.

I much prefer David White’s alternative model, which utilizes a continuum of visitors and residents. He explains that young people are good with technology because they grew up with it. It’s the willingness to fully immerse themselves that creates growth. He compares the challenges of not growing up with technology to learning a second language. While this is challenging it is not impossible.

While most would see me as being very technically inclined I definitely fall on the visitor end of the continuum. David White describes a visitor as someone who views the web as a connection of tools.  Some of the examples he shared include searching for info, paying bills and booking holidays. Visitors leave behind no social trace. Residents view the web as a collection of multiple places. They choose to be present online. There is evidence that they have been there after they have logged off that can be found on their blogs, social media accounts, etc.

I rarely post things online. I have a facebook, twitter and Instagram account but rarely post. I love to scroll through my feeds and see what old friends are doing these days but have no desire to post my own things! Most of my posts are generally pictures of my pets or of scenery on my vacations, or of that one time I made pickles that have little to do with me at all. Why is this? This has a lot to do with my parents and the views instilled around the DANGERS of the internet.

IMG_4542  IMG_4544 IMG_4543

I remember my first computer. I was six years old and we had gone to visit my much older great uncle in Calgary one summer and he had a computer. I’m sure it was the quiet that occurred while my brother and I were on there playing minesweeper, solitaire and tetris that sold them on the idea.  We returned to Regina and within a week we had a brand new computer of our own. We spent hours on there, and we were not afraid to “click around”.  Our parents feared they would break something. They had not used computers before and were reluctant to try it out.  We were the only kids on the block with a computer and everyone was coming over to check it out.  A few years later we got dial-up internet. It was very slow and took forever to load pages. As soon as your page was almost loaded the phone would ring and boot you out.

My parents saw the internet as a dangerous place. They closely monitored our every move and made sure we didn’t use it to connect with the outside world that to them only consisted of pedophiles.  We spent hours on MSN messenger and ICQ talking to our friends. At this time we even had fake emails because they wouldn’t let us even post our name online. I went by “Julia Taylor”.

As I got older, things like facebook came out. Now not only were my parents telling me to not post anything online but now our teachers were also. We received many lessons on internet safety. Many which just ended with DON’T DO IT! (Which probably made us want to do exactly what they were warning us about more). There became so much “RED TAPE” on the internet.  I can hear my parents and teachers saying things like, “you’ll never get into university if you post online”. We were taught to be invisible online, because invisible was “SAFE”. I actually googled myself often to make sure there was nothing on there about me.

While things have changed, these views have obviously stuck with me.  I don’t like to put myself out there online. Not because I fear for my safety but because I’ve never done it, it’s just uncomfortable to me.  I’ve had a twitter that I created 10 years ago in ECMP 355 and have approximately 20 tweets, 18 of which are from this class and I feel like I am “annoying” my followers… and blogging, OH DEAR, what if someone actually reads this?!

The internet has opened so many doors for our youth to create a positive change in the world.. Rather than shield them from the harm it is so important we teach them to navigate it appropriately.





Exploring Media Literacy

Our students today spend the majority of their free time influenced by media. The TED talk below states many students are spending 7.5 hours a day viewing media. This is unlikely to change. As educators and parents we can attempt to shelter our children from the possible harm that may come or we can teach our children to view media with a critical eye.

Quijada is the executive director of Media Literacy Project In her TED talk she stresses the importance of teaching youth to ask critical questions while viewing media.  Through the deconstruction of media, students can find “the untold story”.  The skills required to deconstruct media need to be explicitly taught.

Quijada outlines several critical questions students must have in their tool-belt in order to decode media:

  • What is the text and subtext of this message?
  • Who is the intended audience?
  • What is the collective impact that this message has on our culture?

Media is a powerful tool when used in a positive way. The benefits associated far outweigh risks when students are taught to navigate safely and view media critically. It is my hope that through this class I learn more about media literacy that will benefit my students in the classroom. Students need to know the internet can give them a voice to inspire change but that using the internet negatively can impact their futures. Not only do I hope to help them acquire critical thinking skills that will allow them to see through things like ads but also to navigate the internet appropriately.