Sunday, August 1, 2010

Digital Footprints

i haven't posted in a while, mostly because everytime i looked at my year-end post (still in draft form) it was depressing.  i have no access to a lab this year, and so am "stuck" using only my laptop and data projector in my classroom.  ...that's how i felt for awhile, anyhow.

when i started out with this bad attitude, i found it made my teaching more difficult.  i tried having a year 10 class make hero facebook pages as part of their creative writing unit, but we could only get in the lab once a month, so it took forever and most never really finished the project (after 4 visits).  going back to a theme we'd finished three months in a row was tedious, and having no continuity made their progress nonexistent.

i have recently been able to book our mobile laptops for several consecutive class periods for my level 2 media students (years 12 and 13, aged 17 & 18).  with this opportunity, i decided that i would tackle a unit that is important to me:  digital footprints.  when surveyed at the beginning of the year, only 1 student (of 24) knew what a digital footprint was.  many of them lack basic computer skills, and i am always surprised at how reluctant they are to a) type an address in the address bar and 2) toggle their windows to full screen! both things that save time in the long run :O)

i have been using My Footprints as a teaching tool.  I found Mallory's vlogs on losing a placement at a study programme and problems with sexting, and Anthony's vlogs on online bullying and downloading especially discussion worthy.  we are also using Spezify to create a picture of our footprints specific to user names (mine is here.  shocking to find my husband had left a less than pleasant comment on youtube under my account! a good lesson for my students.)

we are currently creating a wiki site with our own understanding of what it means to have a digital footprint, as well as working on putting forth a solid footprint to leave behind.  i will update when the site is more than a skeleton (we've just begun).

problems encountered?  we lose about 15 minutes a period on administration: i must accompany the students to retrieve the laptops (they are in large rolling carts), leaving 22 students unattended; laptops must be handed out in numerical order to the class (iow, everyone is assigned a laptop); they have to be put back properly, so we have to stop 10 minutes before the bell to ensure the process is done right (which i totally get - teen boys are not the best at doing things properly!), then i have to accompany the laptops back to their closets, which allows my next class free entry into my room and several minutes unattended, which can lead to other problems.

but that is the easy part!  the problems are really a) students being unable to log into their accounts on the laptops ("domain p is not available"), incredibly long lag time for page loading (well over 2 minutes per page - and this is text only - and sometimes much longer!), and students creating work then not being able to save it because they were unable to log into domain p but went ahead anyway.  we spent one whole period doing nothing more than creating accounts on wikispaces.  that's right: a whole period for them to type their usernames, passwords, and email accounts on one page, then make one click. that's the kind of loading time i'm talking about.  unbelievable. 

but in the end, i'm looking forward to seeing what they learn about their own digital footprints, and what they have created to make their footprints something they want to leave behind.

until next time,


  1. Unbelievable what you have to cope with - I commend you in continuing to try and use a digital perspective.

  2. Kelly

    I still believe that the tough piece is to help our youth understand that digital footprints are more than what they say about and more that what others say about them. This exchange is very important but the data that they leave behind form the interactions - describes their behaviour

    keep up the good work