Managing your digital footprint: some top tips for aspiring teachers

John Parkin

Faculty: Health, Education, Medicine and Social Care
School: School of Education and Social Care
Course: Accelerated BA (Hons) Primary Education Studies
Category: Education

7 July 2020

As a teacher, it's important to control what children, parents and potential employers can see about you online. Accelerated Primary Education Studies course leader John Parkin shares his top tips for managing your digital footprint.

Hi, I'm John, and I'm the Course Leader for the Accelerated BA (Hons) Primary Education Studies in Cambridge. As part of the course, I teach students how to protect their digital footprints as they prepare to become primary teachers.

A digital footprint, as you might know, is the trail of data we leave online which reveals information about ourselves, such as photographs and comments made on social networks such as Twitter and Instagram. Quite amazingly, 92% of children in the US have a digital footprint by the age of two. So many children have a digital footprint as parents share pictures of their children online. This even has a name – sharenting!

We all hear tales of how people lose jobs because of things they post online. Making sure you post appropriately online is especially important for teachers, as children, parents and potential employers will search the internet to find information about you. Here are my top tips:

  • Google yourself. If you haven’t done so, it is useful to do this regularly to see what information is available to people searching for you online. You can then take steps to remove any details you don’t want to be shared.
  • Check your privacy settings.. It is worth spending time looking at the privacy settings you have on accounts such as Instagram and TikTok. Privacy settings can often be a bewildering topic, but the South West Grid for Learning have produced some excellent guides to social media privacy settings. You might want to make your posts private so only friends and family can see your photos, videos and comments.
  • Have conversations before problems arise. It is worth talking to your friends and family about not posting anything which could be embarrassing before anything goes wrong!
  • Know where to get help. Social networking websites should help you if you wish to have content removed. They usually clearly signpost how you can report inappropriate content, but the South West Grid for Learning website has some useful guidance on this too.
  • Change your display name. When you set up social media accounts, you may want to use a nickname or just part of your real name. This will help stop parents and pupils searching for you online and asking to be your friend!

It is important to remember that it is not all doom and gloom. You can manage a digital footprint so it presents a positive and professional image to showcase your skills and talents, for example, by setting up a LinkedIn account. You can also use Twitter and Instagram to set up a Professional Learning Network (PLN), which is an excellent way to connect with teachers around the country and even the world to find out what educators are doing in the classroom.

I have picked up many useful tips and ideas for classroom teaching from both Twitter and Instagram. If you want to develop a PLN, you might want to set up a specific professional account so there is no blurring of lines between personal and professional.

I hope you have found this blog interesting. Hopefully it gives you an idea of the interesting topics we discuss on the Accelerated BA (Hons) Primary Education Studies degree course!

Disclaimer

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