When I was training to be a teacher, social media was relatively new. Everybody was joining Facebook and many teachers were getting in trouble because of their inappropriate sharing. In my training, we were advised to keep everything private.
“Your students will inevitably google you. Don’t give them anything to find!”
Teacher training, 2007
How times have changed…
In 2015, I attended the EdTechTeam Global Summit in Hong Kong. I have mentioned it quite a lot on my blog because that’s where my interest in technology started. At this fantastic event, the presenters also mentioned student googling:
“Your students will inevitably google you. Give them lots of positive things to find. How can you claim to be a 21st-century teacher if you are not taking advantage of online possibilities and contributing to the wider profession?”
This was a dramatic shift in my thinking. I googled myself there and then. As expected, nothing came up. Even when I was very specific, my school’s website was the only thing that displayed. I was not connecting or collaborating with other teachers online and I was not contributing to the wider profession. This was made clear by my lack of presence on Google.
When my students google me now, they’ll find loads! Well, as long as they can filter out Aussie comedian Adam Hills! I no longer fear my online presence; I’m proud of it! The order varies depending on the exact search terms, but these are typically the first-page results when I google myself:
- My blog homepage
- Specific posts from my blog
- My guest posts on other blogs
- My Twitter profile
- My LinkedIn profile
- My Google+ profile (admittedly, I don’t use this much)
- My Movember ‘Mo Space’ page
Ok, the last one is a bit random. Even so, I hope that my students do google me. I have nothing to hide! I believe that my online presence is a true reflection of who I am in the real world and a good example of how to behave online. If my students choose to go snooping, they will find nothing but positive exchanges or, at the very worst, respectful debates. Our responsibility as role models now extends to the virtual world. We need to be modelling digital citizenship and ensuring that our own digital footprints are positive.
The internet is home to a lot of anger, insults and hatred. It’s everywhere! For example, I challenge you to find a YouTube video that doesn’t include negativity in the comments. Even the most innocent videos often contain racism, homophobia and general rudeness in the comments section. Also, many online games include chatboxes that are filled with similar nonsense. Oh, and check the replies on any Donald Trump tweet! There is so much anger in the world! Students can easily find the negative online. Where will they find the positive?
Go ahead and google yourself. What comes up? If nothing, you might want to set up one of the above platforms yourself. The setup process is usually very quick and easy. If you’re interested in blogging, click here to read my posts relating to teacher blogging. Likewise, click here for posts about professional Twitter. This book, 140 Twitter Tips for Educators, comes highly recommended and it could be very useful to new ‘tweachers’. I also recommend LinkedIn, the network designed for professionals, businesses and employment. Your professional profile can even be used as a CV and downloaded as a PDF, so it’s worth keeping it up to date.
I choose to keep my Facebook and Instagram private. I use these personally rather than professionally (although this blog does have a Facebook page). I don’t mind sharing glimpses of my personal life with students, but I do want some boundaries. By the way, on Facebook, click the three dots on your profile page and click ‘view as…’. This will show you what your page looks like to the public or even a particular person. You can then update your security settings if necessary.
What evidence is there that you are a 21st-century teacher and learner? What could you do to create or enhance your online presence? How do you model digital citizenship? The internet isn’t going away. Social media isn’t either. Stop fighting it and start embracing it! Enjoy learning, connecting and sharing while modelling positive online behaviour to your students. If I can help you in any way, let me know.
Awesome post Adam. I made so man connections to this with pieces of wisdom that have been shared by other outstanding educators like yourself. I really agree with the change that has transformed us as teachers. Students should absolutely be able to find tons of positive information about you online. What a great post and what great reminders! I constantly think about the boundaries of social media, because it is so true that there is very little privacy on certain social media sites. I may need to take your advice and go on those and “view as”. Excellent nuggets of wisdom Adam. Great to connect with you.
Thank you! I’m glad that you found value in this post and agreed with its message. Attitudes have definitely shifted in the last ten years. You’re obviously very much on board with social media as well. Like I said, I keep some platforms private (there has to be some privacy and boundaries) but that’s ok because there are plenty of other platforms that students can find me on. I aim to be a positive role model of digital citizenship. Children need that.
This is a very good post. I’ve written about how important it is to be careful on social media, but also about the reciprocity and social capital it can engender. My number one tip when I’m talking about social media (especially when explaining it to new users when volunteering at social media surgeries is “Don’t say anything online that you’d not be happy to shout out loud in the middle of your local town”. I’ve followed that rule and hopefully there’s only good stuff to be found about me.
That’s a great rule! I have heard and given the obvious advice about acting the same way online and offline. However, I like your added layer of shouting it out. This reinforces the idea that quiet nastiness behind people’s backs is also unacceptable.
Thanks for the reminder to Google myself–it’s been awhile since I’ve done that. It was interesting seeing the results by adding terms to my name such as my school name, coach, ISTE, technology, etc. I also found it interesting to see the images associated with my name as well–including some that I had attached to Tweets. It was encouraging to see new results appear from the last time I Googled myself. Some time ago I setup a Google Alert with my name that would send me any new web results as Google found them, but that doesn’t catch everything and hasn’t proven to be a very effective method of monitoring my online presence.
Thanks for the comment. I’m pleased that my latest post has made you think about your own online presence (it’s great – I just googled you). I agree that it’s interesting to play around with the search terms. As bloggers, I suppose the next step would be to increase the visibility of our blogs when topics are searched for. I guess this develops over time, but I’m no expert!