How big should one’s digital footprint be? What form should it take?
As I updated my digital footprint page on this blog account yesterday, I was wondering about this. Since my job involves professional development for our system, I’ve always been looking for ways to continue to spread the word. There was a time when attending a Professional Development event involved walking away with a tonne of paper as evidence that you had been there! After a session, I would put my handouts in the bottom draw of the filing cabinet that’s in the room and it warmed my heart when a certain few who knew about this would come a bit early to pick up any of the handouts for sessions that they were not able to attend.
In the early days, technology was really effectively presented with great looking handouts, using WordArt in Microsoft Publisher to get eye catching headlines, capturing images of the software in action and drawing big arrows to point at the important parts, and duplicating it on different colours of paper so that they could easily be identified!
We didn’t call it a digital footprint at the time but that probably was described as a digital reforestration endeavour!
At the same time, though, there was the beginning of something different with learning groups through ENO (Educational Network of Ontario) and Compuserve. Of course, you had to have a modem to get there but I had a second phone line for the Bulletin Board System that I managed and connecting wasn’t too difficult. By today’s standards, these modes of communication were pretty primitive but, you know what? We used it effectively and friends and colleagues that I met them endure today.
Today, I still go to meetings and Professional Development events where paper handouts and agendas are the order of the day. Increasingly, I’m offended by this and will leave the paper on the table to be recycled and make my own notes on my laptop or netbook so that I can easily file them after the meeting. The one piece of the puzzle that often remains iffy is the ability to obtain a reliable internet connection so working is typically done locally and then placed online after the event. The nice thing is that if I’m preparing notes or a resource for my own use, it’s only a copy and paste job away.
So, if you’re attending a current PD session with me, you won’t get paper. Instead, you’ll get a link to my PD Wiki or my PD Website for the resources. Things are gravitating to the wiki where I’ll ask you to join and help me make the resource better by fixing spelling mistakes or techniques and to comment on the session or give some examples of success in your classroom. So, all of these things are coming together to form what I’m calling my digital footprint. And, you’re always welcome to poke around and look at the resources from other things I’ve done just like the bottom drawer of the filing cabinet.
I think that the use of the word footprint is very appropriate. Like footprints in the sand or the snow, they remain after you’ve passed that way. They are sharp and fresh when first created but do meld into something else over time. Some eventually fill in and go away – some get more artistic as the wind works with the edges. Like real shoes, you can easily try on a new one and decide what to keep and what to discard. My current footprint involves the technologies that I’ve found fit my development techniques. I’ll be honest; I can be as lazy as the next person and am always looking for ways to streamline whatever it is that I’m doing. I’ve tried and discarded much since deciding to ditch the paper.
For this moment in time, I think that this size fits me nicely. I’m always on the lookout for a new tool that will change everything so would appreciate ideas and suggestions.