Call it what you want, digital identity, footprints, or shadows, they are all very important in this day and age. This fact was reinforced during my trip to Australia last week.
As is the norm now, we checked up on our hosts and they on us before we met in person.
Of the team of four from NIE, I do not think I would be tooting my horn if I guessed that my online presence was the most obvious. This blog and my tweet stream were probably the gateways to other digital artefacts of mine. Collectively, they left so large a digital impression on some of our hosts that we spent a disproportionate amount of time talking about e-learning and ICT.
Building up one’s social and reputational capital online is important today. I recall reading an article where a company abandoned resumes altogether and relied on the digital artefacts of prospective employees. It is hard to visit a university where graduating students are not required to maintain an e-portfolio of some sort.
More recently my Twitter PLN surfaced at least two interesting articles debating the merits and pitfalls of social media in schools.
- What Schools are Really Blocking When They Block Social Media
- Trying to Ban Facebook is Not the Answer
The short story: School administrators and parents might be worried about social media as a distraction, but banning the use of the tools takes away teaching moments and does not prepare kids for their present and future.
If we as adults can already see the value (and some dangers) of the social and reputational capital that stem from our online presence, this will be even more important for our kids. Keeping an e-portfolio is not enough. What kids do in Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube also matters, perhaps even more so.
Kids aside, I sometimes wonder if I will ever see the day where academic staff are appraised largely this way. The traditional appraisal tries to capture this element, but because it is limited to paper, it cannot hyperlink.
Earlier this year, one head asked me if I knew of any staff in NIE who had e-portfolios that she could showcase at her academic group’s retreat. Sadly, I did not, so I shared mine and a few of my staffs’ portfolios (with their permission, of course). That head remarked how we seem to make our student teachers maintain e-portfolios, but do not walk that talk ourselves!
I think it will happen slowly as academic staff start joining in that conversation and take a walk down that inevitable digital path.