THE INTERNET LETS US connect in new and exciting ways, and social media tools offer immeasurable benefits, professional as well as social. But as the Internet comes to play a larger role in our lives, it's essential to maintain a positive digital footprint. And as more students use social media and other Web tools at younger ages, it becomes increasingly important to educate them on the effects of their online behavior.
In the education world, two growing and interwoven topics are digital citizenship and maintaining a positive professional presence online. Many students do not think about the consequences of what they post or tweet. They fail to appreciate that their actions could become visible to college admissions counselors, potential employers and even law enforcement officers.
So the question becomes: Mow can educators help students manage their own behavior and create a positive online presence?
When we use the terms "digital footprint" and "digital presence," what are we talking about? Well, as an example, consider what would appear if someone typed your name into Google and then did a search. Would the results be positive or negative? This is a question students and professionals alike must consider- in fact, college admissions counselors and hiring managers conduct such searches every day.
* Lead by example. First, explain to your students that everything on the Internet is public and everything lasts forever. Hitting a delete button doesn't mean the deleted material is gone. As long as people can print out, forward or cut and paste, the illusion of privacy is just that: an illusion.
Second, educators are responsible for serving as positive role models for students, not only in the physical classroom but also in the digital world.
This can be especially tough for educators who use social media for both personal and professional reasons. Educators expect a certain level of respect from their students, which can be compromised by a negative online presence, such as a snarky Twitter feed. In fact, there have been cases in which educators' actions on Facebook and Twitter have resulted in dismissal. Learn how to protect yourself on http://go.aft.org/techrights.
* Google your own name every so often. It's a simple way to make sure your online presence is good. Educators maintain a …