Who’s Responsible? Debate #7

This semester has flown by! It doesn’t feel like it should be our last round of debates but here we are! Monday’s first debate was whether Educators and Schools have a responsibility to help their students develop a digital footprint. On the Agree side Rae & Funmiloa and on the Disagree side Gertrude & Kim. Here’s a quick recap of their key points! 


The Agree team, Rae & Funmiloa, started off by providing us with information about what a digital footprint is and why it is so important. A digital footprint is the trail of information about a particular person that exists on the internet as a result of their online activity. A positive/negative digital footprint can have future implications for students as they enter the workforce and future schooling. The online world has become an extension of the real world. The agree team explained that educators/schools can not leave the responsibility to teach students about their digital footprint solely to parents, as not all parents have the education or access to do so. If educators leave parents soley responsible it may widen the digital gap. The agree team also noted that schools and educators have a responsibility to help keep students safe, which includes teaching students about their digital footprint.


The Disagree team, Kim and Gertrude, didn’t deny the importance of a digital footprint. Instead they focussed on responsibility! Who is responsible for helping students develop their digital footprint? Big Tech? Parents? Educators? A high percentage of students, 84%, are entering schools already having a digital footprint, which are highly influenced by parents. If educators are responsible, are they prepared and do they feel comfortable to take on the role? The disagree team provided a survey that showed that many teachers do not feel they have the education, or resources to be responsible for helping students develop their digital footprint. What about big tech? Big tech creates many of the issues but then expects parents/educators to do the work to ensure students understand/build their digital footprint. 

My Thoughts

I still feel a bit lost on which side I agree with. I am not a classroom teacher but I am always trying to place myself in their shoes. I think there is a responsibility for educators to help students become “aware” of their digital footprint and understand its importance but are they responsible for helping students develop their footprint? I’m on the fence. Teachers can help educate and guide students but ultimatley they can not control the choices students make outside of school hours. I think it would be helpful for educators to have a specific curriculum/outcomes related to digital citizenship and digital footprint. This has been discussed in other debates but I really think this course has highlighted the importance of the curriculum being updated to include content that reflects the digital age we are living in. 

In terms of making students aware of their digital footprint and the implications it has, I thought the article “Teaching Students about Their Digital Footprints” had some useful suggestions for educators. It included lesson ideas to help students become aware of their own footprint. One idea was having students google themselves and reflect on what their digtal footprint revealed. It also provided ideas of how to teach students the implications (positive & negative) of their digital footprint. This included information about situations where Canadians have lost their job or title due to inappropriate social media posts. 

Since the deabte I have been reflecting on the disagree teams caution about posting student pictures online. I manage most of my school’s social media and I am pretty cautious. I try to only include pictures that a student could not be identified by but I notice other schools are posting a significant amount of pictures of students on their social media that end up being tagged by parents. In the article “It’s Not Ok to Share Student Photos Online. And Here’s Why” they share some of the risks to this common practice. Risks related to student safety, privacy and student data. The article aslo noted the importance of getting parental permission and ensuring parents understand what they are signing up for. A few years ago I was flipping through a Prarie Valley Kindergarten Orientation package and noticed a picture of my daughter was used. A picture that was taken years ago when she was in Kindergarten. I’m sure I had signed the media form but I hadn’t considered that pictures could be used years down the road and for any purpose. After reading the article I am feeling even more cautious about my role posting on social media.


A Few Final Questions:

Does your school share student photos on their social media?

Who do you think is responsible to help students develop their digital footprint? Parents? Educators? Shared Responsibility?

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