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A Great Guide on Teaching Students about Digital Footprint

Have you ever Googled yourself ? Have you ever checked your virtual identity? Do you know that you leave a digital footprint every time you get online? Do you know that whatever you do online is accumulated into a digital dossier traceable by others ? These and several other similar questions are but the emerging tip of the sinking iceberg.One that is packed full of concerns related to issues of our online identity and privacy issues.

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Managing one’s digital identity is a skill , so to speak, that we need to learn and teach our kids and students about. In a world digitally focused, the boundaries between the real and virtual are blurred . As teachers and educators, we need to be a role model for our students and show them how they can interact with the virtual world and what they should do to keep themselves safe.
Given the huge importance of this topic in education, I deemed it imperative that I share with my fellow teachers and educators  a guide I have worked on for the last couple of weeks. The purpose of this guide is to help teachers cultivate a culture of digital responsibility in students online practices.

1- Introduce your students to Digital Footprint

I would recommend that you share with your students this GREAT video as an introduction to the topic digital footprint . Play it to them two or three times and give them some time to reflect on it before they share their opinions with the whole class. Run a discussion around this video for a few minutes then give them a definition of what digital footprint is all about 

2- What is digital footprint ?
A digital footprint is the collection of all the traces you leave in electronic environments as you use or move through them. Some is content you actively volunteer—like your Facebook profile. Other material is passive—the cookies a site stores in your browser, the content your district collects about your use of their equipment, etc. All this data can be aggregated to build a profile of you and your behavior

3- Ask your students these questions

Now that your students know what digital footprint is all about. Ask them the following questions and they can pair up in groups to answer them and discuss their answers :

  • If we were to look you up online what would we learn about you ? 
  • What are your digital footprints? 
  • Is there anything online that you wouldn't want your teacher or parent to know about you ? 
Share with them this video after the discussion

4- what is a Digital Dossier
Share with them this video and let know answer the question what is a digital dossier? Do it as a post listening activity.

5- Discover your digital footprint

This is an activity you can do with your students to show them how they can uncover their digitally encoded identities :
  • Ask them to Google themselves. This can be done through using Google search engine. They only need to type their full name and hit search 
  • Ask them to use Pipl to search more about themselves. Pipl is a great web tool that allows users to search their digital trails.

6- Tips for managing digital footprint

Share with your students these tips on how to protect their online identities and build a positive digital footprint .

  • Never post anything that you might find embarrassing later. 
  • Be careful with the pictures you post on your public profiles. Remember others will see them and judge you based on their content. 
  • Change the privacy settings on your social networking sites so that only your Friends can see your information 
  • Do not disclose your personal address, phone number, passwords. Bank card numbers...etc even in private messages. There is always the possibility of somebody hacking into your account and finding them. 
  • Do not post things to bully, hurt, blackmail, insult, or afflict any kind of harm on others 
  • Always keep in mind that once information has been posted online, it can be almost impossible to remove because of archiving and file sharing. Even though you deactivate your accounts, the information may still be retrieved by others. 
7- Show them how to use social media

Social media websites s are among the top sources of your digital footprints.Here is an activity to do with them on this. Get them to pair up in small groups and ask them to create a profile on some social networking website you select for them. When they finished , get them to share  their profiles with other groups. Give them time to peer edit each other and make the editing process interactive by allowing each student to assess others' profile. Finally,  Give your feedback to each group.

7- Wrap-up
I did not find anything better than this excellent video to use with your students as a wrap-up on what they have learned about digital footprint. Enjoy

More resources on Digital Footprint

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