I think this is a powerful and true statement. We need to explain the significance of this to our students and accept it ourselves. There are many things that will always exist on the web. It is not like writing a note in school to pass to a friend – when you were done with it – it was thrown away. That action was final. Now students wrote notes to each other and notes to the world in a digital footprint. This action is permanent.
I think that the people in charge of technology in districts need to realize that students are going up in a world where they are expected to be critical readers, editors, and contributors to the news and everything else they read online. By sheltering them and limiting the sites they have access to, it is a disservice to the students. They need to know how to evaluate media. If they are posting responses to blogs or other news sources, they need to know how to write a persusive post to defend their points. Students already use social media sites; just blocking them is not going to model for the students how to use the sites as positive social networking sites. An article last year had described the number of colleges that look at MySpace and Facebook when considering who to admit. We wouldn’t give someone a license to drive without telling them the rules of the road, so why do we allow students to traverse the Internet without more clearly stated rules. Just saying they can not use the Internet (or specific sites) in school is probably more harmful. My students have admitted that if someone is blocked at school, it is the first thing they check out when at home. Schools and parents are worried that the Internet and entertainment industry are responsible for the lost of childhood innocence … but I think being a child means something else in today’s world. How many kids just play – not play a sport or play an instrument. Just play. The world has changed.
How people will be evaluated has also changed. Not only will colleges look at social network sites to make sure an applicant will be an asset for the college, but jobs will Google an applicant to see their digital footprint. This could easily include blog posts or responses to other people’s work. We need to prepare students for both of these. This is especially important since it is predicted that current/future generations of workers will hold 14 jobs by the age of 38 (from Shift Happens – video below). This means people will continuously search for a person’s digital footprint.
I think the Shift Happens video is the best explanation I’ve heard/seen so far in how the world is changing. Administrators and parents need to realize this before their children fall behind.