I first noticed my web presence one day when out of curiosity I decided to Google my name. I was pleasantly surprised when papers that I had written while working for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and my presentations for my thesis project in Florida came up in the search. Around the same time my niece in Florida contacted me to tell me she did a search for me and found an article written about me and an art class I was teaching for the Bristol Bay Campus in the Bristol Bay Times. I also went to search to see if I could find that one and found it. At the time I did my first search I defined my web presence as the information that would be found if someone decided to do a web search with your name. I think now I would be more inclined to define my web presence as a virtual profile.
A web presence is extremely important to our students. Pan 2012, states that it is now important for students to begin thinking about their web presence as a personal branding that potential employers and educational intuitions will be looking for. Employers are not only looking for good resumes they are looking to see how professional you are online. It is important to think about what you put online and even what you don’t. A good virtual profile will show your level of professionalism and initiative. Not only is your web presence important, but so is your digital footprint, those traces you leave where ever you go when online. This can include social sites along with web searches and any website you visit. Your web presence and digital footprint can determine whether you get a job or into the college of your choice. In a video presentation by the Cheshire School Business Partnership they presented findings that in businesses and schools there was content that encouraged them to hire or accept people with a good online personality and professional profiles. Colleges and business are looking at Facebook pages to decide on whether or not to hire or accept a student. What students don’t realize is that whatever they post stays on there forever even if you delete something it can still be found. What you post can come back to haunt you so be careful with what you post and where you go online. The video states, “make your digital footprint reflect your best skills.” Something all students need to think about. I think it is important to start discussing these subjects with k-12 students at an early age.
Today kids start going online by the time they can talk. Students need to know that what they do online will follow them through their entire lives. I know my grandchildren’s lives are being documented online now. When my daughters were young their pictures were saved in an album on the shelf that only close family and friends could see. Now anyone can see the pictures of children because they have photo albums online, dvd’s, and in the cloud. This presents issues of privacy for parents and students. If you have pictures of young children online you definitely want to protect their privacy and not just allow anyone to be able to find and view the pictures. I also have heard from community members and friends that my students have posted party pictures that will now be following them. I don’t think they learned early enough how this can affect their lives and that it will be in the virtual world forever.
I believe that college students and high school students both should be asked to begin establishing their web presence and personal learning networks in classes like this and all classes for that matter. I am planning on having students blog for anatomy and physiology. Now I will discuss it as part of their web presence and encourage them to start on their personal learning networks as well. It will be important for these students because many of them have plans on going into the medical field in the future. We will have to talk about copyright issues and intellectual property because their blog will be online. They will need to learn how to cite any sources they use. I have already begun having them search for images that are in the commons and free to use or even edit. Even those images will need to be referenced whenever possible especially when being placed in an online format.
As we move more into Cloud technology we will find our privacy more and more at risk. Freedman (2012) in an article on the Chronicle defines the cloud as follows:
The term cloud describes the virtual, server-based world that is controlled by the Web or by mobile networks. Because cloud technology is driven by common data standards, cloud-based systems learn about their users very quickly. Such systems can mine data about users because each log-in and keystroke is analyzed in order to synthesize that data, feed it back, and share it with researchers and other users and systems.
He then goes on to point out that schools are still in the fog about the cloud and need to utilize the cloud to help students:
Although some colleges have started using analytics to track students’ progress, many remain driven by “dumb” technologies that know very little about their users. My son’s college data is not retained, reorganized, safeguarded, or fed back to him—whether to make him a better student or to improve his college experience. By comparison, the “smart” information systems prevalent on Amazon, Google, and Facebook know their users very well—maybe too well. The right information systems in higher education would be able to parallel smart and secure systems found elsewhere.
If cloud technology could be used by schools and universities to mine data on students learning it could be used for RTI (response to intervention) and other information that instructors could use to help their students learn and retain information. It would be great if the cloud could help us keep parents informed at least at the k-12 level as to what their students are doing and/or not doing. Instead of a teacher taking time out of their day to call a parent about missing homework cloud technologies could alert them much quicker and possibly even send suggestions on how to help their child get the work done (I might be dreaming here, but boy would that be nice).
I think it is possible to manage your web presence the young girl in the video mentioned above put it nicely: never put anything online that you would not want your parents to see. Now it is necessary to think not only of your parents but potential employers and school admissions. I think if you do always remember that it really wouldn’t be necessary to have a private and public web presence. You may want to keep your family photos private and have a separate public or business presence. I know I don’t want everyone to see photos of my grandchildren or even my daughters so my settings are different from those photos then say photos of my artwork that I want public and hope that anyone can see. However, whether it is public or private always be mindful of what is being put out there it is in a virtual world after all and who knows if it is always going to be private.
So finally it is extremely important to protect and revise your web presence according to White (2011) 48% of employers check personal websites, social media, and blogs when deciding if they want to hire you, so make it good. Employers will look to see how you spend your spare time so don’t think showing off your party side will get you a job. Employers and schools are looking for people who are organized and reputable. I recently even heard that some interviewers for jobs were asking people for their Facebook passwords. I think that is an invasion of privacy, but they can still ask to view your Facebook page or look at it.
Pan (2012), suggests that students need to create their own personal online brand. Who you know and what you do online can help you get a position quicker than the best resume out there in today’s technological world. Seventy-eight percent of recruiters do a Google search on job seekers along with checking references, 63% of recruiters check social media sites of job seekers. Current employers will check and make sure you are being professional online and not abusing social media at work or out of work (White 2011). Your online reputation can help or hurt you. Even no online presence can hurt you in today’s job market. No web presence can make you look like you have no drive or even a level of professionalism. So work on your web presence, write professional blogs, brand yourself, and above all make sure you put out a good reputation and your future should be hopeful.
Freedman, G. (2012, April 29). Cloud technology can lift the fog over higher education. The Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved September 30, 2012, from http://chronicle.com/article/Cloud-Technology-Can-Lift-the/131673.
Pan, J. (2012, August 12). Students, Here’s How to Kick-Start Your Personal Brand Online. Mashable. Retrieved September 20, 2012, from http://mashable.com/2012/08/29/personal-branding-for-students/
Protecting Your Digital Footprint. (2011, January 6). Protecting Your Digital Footprint. Retrieved September 30, 2012, from /Protecting-Your-Digital-http://www.schooltube.com/video/d4e1ce965f05c53f961aFootprint
White, C. (2011, November 2). Protecting your online reputation: 4 things you need to know [INFOGRAPHIC]. Mashable. Retrieved October 1, 2012, from http://mashable.com/2011/11/02/protecting-your-online-reputation/