Sunday, May 11, 2008

Take Ownership of Your Identity

Who Are You?

Let me qualify that... Who are you to someone who Googles you? Educators may not realize this, but most of us have likely been Googled by students, parents or other educators!

In many ways, your participation in discussions within the blogosphere, and your presence on social networks, comprise your personal/professional portfolio. Recent posts by Doug Peterson and Tim Hawes have recently reinforced for me what I've been recommending for teachers for a few years now: "You need to have an online presence!"

Last week, the Globe and Mail reported that a Manitoba high school student was charged with 'impersonating his teacher' after he "allegedly set up a Facebook profile in the teacher's name, complete with a photo and biographical details."

Even though impersonation contravenes Facebook's terms of use' in which users agree NOT to "impersonate any person or entity, or falsely state or otherwise misrepresent yourself, your age or your affiliation with any person or entity;", this type of activity is surely taking place within thousands of profiles.

What's a teacher to do?
Be proactive! Take ownership of your identity!

1] Google yourself on occasion, to see what your online resume currently consists of. (You might also consider Googling your children or others who are close to you...)

2] If you don't have a Facebook account, get one! You don't need to use it, but include enough information in your profile to ensure that you are the 'real one'. You might also want to register with other popular social networks.

3] Consider buying a personalized domain name. You don't have to use it, but if you have a domain that is www.firstname-lastname.com, you are ensuring that on one else takes your online identity. Who knows, it might even spur you towards creating a real 'online portfolio'. Getting a domain name is easy and inexpensive, and can do great things towards enhancing your online presence. If you're interested, check out godaddy.com, buydomains.com, planetdomain.ca, Yahoo domains, sibername.com or another service.

4] Develop a personal website. Start small by having a personal web page that you can use to post resources or ideas. A wiki page (at a such such as Wetpaint); or a personal blog (at a site like Blogger.com) can be very easy to set up and to update. You need not know HTML or complex coding, and you can easily redirect your domain name (see #3 above) to this personal page.

5] Demonstrate your professionalism to parents who may 'look you up online', by participating in meaningful professional discussions. To do so, you can either make regular posts on your own blog, or you can comment on the blogs of others in the edu-blogosphere. Note that anything you post to a blog will come up in a web search, provided you use your real name on such a post.


Photo Credit: Steve Mishos

5 comments:

Tim said...

Great post. A lot of educators are "testing the online waters" without an awareness of their visibility. I've been putting together a presentation on blogging for the summer workshop season, and just last night added this bullet in my outline: "Search engines--for better or worse." I'm looking forward to pointing folks to your post. Thanks!

Tim

(My link is to the blog I'm using for the presentation in a month or so; as such, it's not too far along...)

Rodd Lucier said...

Lots going on in Madison County... that conference season looks rich! Best of luck with your presentation Tim!

Diane Hammond said...

This post should be required reading for Faculty of Education students. I don't think we are doing enough to address this new issue of professional conduct online. I like your stance in being proactive as opposed to reactive. BTW, rather than "google yourself on occasion", I'd recommend everyone have an RSS feed for their google search. I've been doing that for a while now and have found it to be quite informative.

Rodd Lucier said...

Diane, Your suggestion about using RSS feeds on yourself is a nice idea... You can teach two important concepts in one lesson! It would be a nice extension to http://friendfeed.com/

I've had Google News feeds for each member of my family for a few years now; it makes perfect sense to add these to my feed reader. Thanks!

dougpete said...

Item #3 is really important. You should purchase your own identify. A .ca domain is relatively inexpensive and you can brand yourself there as your "official" site. Even if it's a landing zone for the present, it may well be your portfolio for the future. Diane is absolutely correct; having and maintaining the appropriate online profile is so important.