I am familiar with the term ‘carbon footprint’ and ‘ecological footprint’ but I hadn’t heard of a ‘digital footprint’ until recently. This article, from the PEW Internet and American Life Project, describes how internet users are becoming more aware of their ‘digital footprint’ – the number of sites that turn up when searching for their own name. The first time I curiously Googled “Britt Gow” I found obscure references to an asian card game and one or two articles that had been posted by our local council and teacher’s union. One year, over 100 blog posts, countless blog comments and several wikis and nings later, I have a digital footprint of over ten pages. The learning curve has been steep, but social networking has been a valuable tool for professional development, especially as a teacher in a small country school. I hope my students will also benefit from the opportunities provided by social networking tools – as they already do informally on Facebook, MySpace and Bebo.
This term my Year 7 and Year 9 classes have enjoyed an “On Line Science Fair” with students from Mrs Laguna’s class in Philadelphia. I think the full benefits of social networking sites take longer than ten weeks to establish, so I will begin next year with a class wiki and maintain our relationship with overseas teachers with the intention of further collaboration.