Slow your roll, we need more control.

As a member of Instagram, Facebook, and now Twitter, I often reflect on my own digital identity. What you send out electronically has replaced what used to be called “first impression”. Now, people can judge you/form their opinion of you before they even meet you. Their first impression of you now comes from the Internet instead of the standard face-to-face encounter. Handshakes and eye contact have become rarities.

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Photo Credit: Visual Content Flickr via Compfight cc

Since my Facebook is mostly private, I use this social media platform for personal posts (my weekend plans, vacations, my engagement, things I find funny etc.). It is rare that I will post professional posts on my Facebook account, however, I do occasionally share resources that I find from teacher-based groups (Ontario French Teachers). On Facebook, I share details of my personal life with colleagues, friends, and family. However, in case something does get out of my private Facebook sphere (never underestimate a student’s ability to snoop), I am careful to never post anything that would get me in trouble. I filter everything through a “common sense” filter. It is important to take time to reflect on how others will view your post/if your post detracts from your professional image.

My Instagram account is run in the exact same way. I used to use it for professional posts as well (sharing what we’re up to in the classroom), however, Twitter seemed to become the frontrunner in terms of professional content. This is simply, in my view, because it lends itself well to professional networking (retweeting, hashtags, chats).

 

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Are you aware of the digital fingerprints you’re leaving behind?   Photo Credit: diedintragedy Flickr via Compfight cc

When I Google myself, the first result is my profile on RateMyTeacher. That’s right – the first result that appears is one that I did not create/put out there myself. In fact, I don’t know who created a profile for me or who wrote my reviews. Luckily for me, the reviews are positive and I have a good rating, however, it’s scary to think that my first virtual impression to someone when they Google me could be in the hands of someone else. This lack of control over my impression to others fuels me to contribute more to my digital identity. This book mirrors a lot of my thoughts, for anyone looking to read up on controlling our digital environment.

Following this, my Twitter account appears. My general profile page is displayed, but so are specific posts. Again, I feel a lack of control, as it appears that random posts appear in the search results – not necessarily the most recent or most popular ones.

Newspaper articles from when I used to write for a local newspaper also appear, as do a few of my short stories that I got published in University. Google images displays several photos from my Facebook and Google + accounts – all of which I’m happy with but have had no control over. Because of how random these results can be (which pictures appear in search results and which ones don’t), I again, am thankful for my “common sense” filter. I know that whatever Google (or other search engines) chooses to display, will not come back to haunt me.

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Photo Credit: Visual Content Flickr via Compfight cc

I look forward to continuing to contribute to my digital identity, mostly through the form of this blog (which also appeared in my Google search for myself). As Katia Hildebrandt said in our session last night, the more you put out there, the more control you have. I want more control.

UPDATE: Feel free to check out my classroom website as well, which is also a part of my digital identity.

Let the Hunger Games Begin. This year’s arena: Twitter.

I just recently joined Twitter and am in the process of building my online PLN (Professional Learning Network). Twitter had never really appealed to me before teaching. The 140 character count limit seemed to suggest that nothing important was being said. Now that I am a working professional, I see that the character limit simply makes important discussions more direct and to-the-point. There is no “extra” – just what needs to be said. As someone with a lot on his plate professionally, and an ongoing/constant list of 100 things I should be doing, this brief and succinct form of PD is actually really appreciated.

I was lucky enough to join the discussions in Saskedchat on Thursday night. In one of my tweets from Thursday, I compared myself to Katniss Everdeen as she is about to be launched into the Hunger Games. I went into it knowing that the chat would be a bit overwhelming and that lots of people would be contributing, however, I quickly realized that you just pick and choose what you wish to engage with. It’s a personalized form of PD that reminds me of our school PLCs (Professional Learning Community) where teachers get together once a week to talk about practice, student engagement, literacy, numeracy and basically anything that helps us as individuals become better educators. It’s about engaging in important dialogue that helps you reflect on your practice. The difference is that you can engage with anyone in the world. Just because the character count is limited does not mean that your scope of people to engage with is. Quite the opposite, actually.

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Photo Credit: webtrakya Flickr via Compfight cc

For me, Twitter is currently my professional social media platform. This might be because of how public my profile is. Facebook is great for posting pictures of what I did over the weekend or catching up with my grandmother through the chat features. Instagram is great for looking at hundreds of cute dog pictures or sunsets. These accounts are both set to private for me. However, Twitter seems different. It’s more focused and allows you to use it in very specific ways, partly because of the hashtags. I look at it as a professional platform and do not want to remove myself from people who aren’t currently in my inner circle. I want to bring them in and see what they have to offer. The amount of resources and articles that are shared under educational hashtags is perfect for teachers and keeps me from deviating from educational material. I don’t feel distracted or the need to explore other topics just yet, as I’m still consuming the plethora of educational resources.

For your Twitter experience to be successful, however, you must contribute as well as consume. It is a give and take relationship and you must also offer something to others. I think that Twitter is a useful tool for modern classrooms (sharing pictures, posting homework). I am not yet a fan of the chat feature, simply because Facebook and Instagram offer the exact same thing, however, I could see myself using it for professional dialogue only.

As I continue to navigate through ECMP 355 with the University of Regina, I will continue to build my PLN and will hopefully have built something that I can return to when the course is over. For now, my primary reason for engaging with Twitter is simply to explore an online professional world that I previously did not know existed. I look forward to seeing how that evolves as I spend more time on the social media platform. The Hunger Games continue.

For more information about Twitter, check out this page by David Truss.