Monday, September 29, 2014

Digital footprints: how does what you post today affect your future?

What is a digital footprint?  Why is it important?  How can my digital footprint affect me in the future?  These are all important questions that students in Integrated Technology have been exploring this past week.  After watching several videos and reading several articles explaining the idea of a digital footprint, students formed production companies and had to make a decision about which host to hire for a new TV show in development. Students had to make this decision solely after reading the online profiles found for the two candidates being considered for the job.  The profiles were found through an online search of social networking sites, newspaper articles, and blog posts.

Within their production companies, students carefully scanned the candidates' profiles for any information that suggested that he or she would not be an ideal hire.  For example, they looked for discrepancies in information, analyzed uploaded photos, and made judgments about what type of worker the candidates might be based on how they presented themselves online.

After carefully reviewing the profiles, students had to make a decision as a team about which candidate they should hire and why.  This decision was a tough one and created great debate among team members.  One candidate appeared to come across as more favorable than the other, but questions such as "Is it fair to judge someone for something that happened years ago?" and "What if this person has changed?" created great -and very real-world- conversations.

Finally, each production company had to make a presentation to the entire class about which candidate would make the best hire and why.  Once again, debate followed as the entire class shared their different thoughts about what they discovered.

Ultimately, the class agreed that NEITHER candidate would make a good hire.  While one candidate appeared to present herself more favorably online, both included information and photos that made us question their credibility.  Was it fair to judge someone based on what they posted online?  Some students didn't think that it was since they argued people change, and they should not be judged based on their past mistakes.  Most students, though, thought that is was fair and believed that a person's digital footprint could help employers learn more about a person than what can be gleaned from an interview. 

This full lesson entitled "Trillion Dollar Footprint" is one of Common Sense Media's fantastic lessons.  This lesson gives students the opportunity to not only work in teams and understand the process of hiring someone in the 21st century, but students also really learn how important it is to carefully consider how they present themselves online.  Our digital footprints stay with us forever, and they can have a huge impact on how others view us. 

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