Your Digital Footprint – Lunch with George Couros

K-12 teachers – use four words for every kid every time they write: write, categorize, tag, publish.” George Couros

Last week was my first time to attend the California League of Schools (CLS) Annual Conference – and I’m so glad I did! The highlight of this 3-day conference was joining George Couros’ lunchtime session Your Digital Footprint. Below is the session description:

We all have a digital footprint, as do our schools and organizations. “Googling” ourselves makes this apparent, whether or not we had a say in what shows up about us online. As individuals and as schools, what can we do to actually shape this footprint? With open sharing of our learning, a digital footprint can easily be developed for either an individual, school or organization. This is not about branding as much as it is about modeling for our students that we are learners along with them.”

As a director of my district’s digital citizenship program, I’ve been concerned about our seniors graduating and heading on to career or college pursuits without a digital portfolio. For the past 10 years, Kathleen Watt, my #digcit program co-director, and I have been offering workshops to help teachers support their students in creating and curating K-12 digital portfolios. We recommend blogs as the best venue for students to begin an ongoing process of documenting their learning journeys. So it felt like a pat on the back to hear George make the same recommendation.

There’s a reason @GCouros has 212K followers!

George also pointed out that not only do students need to have portfolios – so do teachers. He then reiterated that the best ePortfolio students and teachers can have is a blog … Oh, wow, why had I never made this personal connection before?!?

A blog is a portfolio.”

This quote was my biggest takeaway from the lunch session and conference.

George’s stance that “teachers need to create portfolios using the same platform they are pushing” was also validating. Years ago, we purchased Edublogs Campus Press for district-wide access. Outside of my district job, Blogwalker has been my personal space for reflecting on new ideas and resources, documenting conferences and workshops attended, and showcasing the work of colleagues and leaders who inspire and add to my teaching toolkit. But until this session with George, I had not thought of this blog as a portfolio.

I left the conference re-energized and committed to adding another round of blogs and blogging back into my workshop offerings, using Google apps (and VoiceThreads, podcasts, video creation, etc.) to create, collaborate on, and curate content that will ultimately be housed on a blog.

Over the years, I have cut back on my blogging workshops because, too often, I see teacher-created blogs used simply as a venue for posting homework. I suggest, instead, using a Google Site rather than underutilizing a blog. So, yes, I will continue to recommend that teachers post homework on a G Site – but with the strong recommendation that they to tap into all that a blog offers for maintaining a personal ePortfolio!

Tomorrow marks the 12th anniversay of my first blog post (in which I thank Edublogs … and reference MySpace). I see I left my first-ever comment:

Hi, this is a comment.
To delete a comment, just log in, and view the posts’ comments, there you will have the option to edit or delete them.”

Since 2008, I’ve had the pleasure of participating in, learning from, and contributing to a number of amazing communities (Google Teacher Academy, Microsoft Innovative Educators, Rushton Hurley’s MERIT program, CSU Sacramento’s iMET program, UC Santa Barbara’s Center for Teaching for Social Justice, and more). I think I’ve always attributed acceptance into these programs to luck and maybe a good recommendation or two.

I realize now that everytime I apply for a local or national program, I’m asked to include my Twitter handle (@GailDesler) and social media links, such as a blog. I’m wondering how many review committees have visited Blogwalker before sending their “Congratulations! You’ve been accepted” letter. When those committees have to make cuts to their lists of applicants, are educators with personal blogs/ePorfolios given priority over those without?

I would love to hear from fellow bloggers why you blog and what benefits you have experienced. I warmly invite you to leave a comment.

And if you need a little inspiration and motivation to start blogging, subscribe to George’s The Principal of Change blog!

2 thoughts on “Your Digital Footprint – Lunch with George Couros

  1. Hi Gail,

    Congratulations again on 12 years as a blogger. That’s a mighty milestone. I laughed at your MySpace reference in your first blog post. How times have changed in 12 years.

    Thank you so much for sharing this wonderful post too. How lucky you were to see George live. Like most teachers, I enjoy following his work and I hear his presentations are amazing!

    I totally agree with you about a lot of teachers just using blogs to post homework (or announcements about excursions, open nights etc). As you know, there is SO much more you can do! In fact, this prompted me to set up the Better Blogging With Students course for Edublogs (It’s almost finished now). My aim has been to help teachers explore what ‘better blogging’ is and what’s possible.

    How exciting that you’re re-energized to recommending blogging in your workshops. I hope you’ll be able to blog about it! 🙂

    Here’s to 12 more years of blogging. I wonder what the world will look like in 2030!

  2. Thanks, Kathleen. Will be watching for your Better Blogging With Students course!. And please keep those great articles coming (e.g., How to Teach Digital Citizenship Through Blogging).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *