Dear Students, Pre-Service Teachers, and Educators,

Photo credit: Dean Shareski

Sometimes what my former students post on the web or the poor decisions they make in real life really surprise me. I try telling them during the middle school years that things have a way of catching back up to them. Some listen. Some do not.

Now, the “digital tattoo” is living proof that it is more true now than ever. Consider this great story from Seth Godin (bold print mine):

A friend advertised on Craigslist for a housekeeper.

Three interesting resumes came to the top. She googled each person’s name.

The first search turned up a MySpace page. There was a picture of the applicant, drinking beer from a funnel. Under hobbies, the first entry was, “binge drinking.”

The second search turned up a personal blog (a good one, actually). The most recent entry said something like, “I am applying for some menial jobs that are below me, and I’m annoyed by it. I’ll certainly quit the minute I sell a few paintings.”

And the third? There were only six matches, and the sixth was from the local police department, indicating that the applicant had been arrested for shoplifting two years earlier.

Three for three.

Google never forgets.

Of course, you don’t have to be a drunk, a thief or a bitter failure for this to backfire. Everything you do now ends up in your permanent record. The best plan is to overload Google with a long tail of good stuff and to always act as if you’re on Candid Camera, because you are.

And that is just someone looking for a housekeeper. Imagine if it were really important to you: college application, internship, scholarship, promotion. Yes, employers, colleges, and organizations are scouring the Internet to see what they can find out about you before they meet you. It is a part of the process these days.

Remember what your mom always told you? No, not the underwear and the car wreck thing. She also talked about first impressions when meeting someone for the first time, and you only get one of them? Well, now you are doing that BEFORE you meet them for the first time. As a matter of fact, it just might cost you meeting them for the first time. Google me. Be more specific in your search: “Scott S. Floyd”. You will see me everywhere: literacy sites, political sites, newspapers, blog comments, video comments, and who knows how many virtual communities I participate in. What I do know is that I work hard to maintain a web presence that I want my mother to be proud of. Funny enough, my wife (who spends nowhere near the time online that I do) casually mentioned over dinner one night, “You know, you have a lot of good stuff on the Internet.” Yep. She Googled me. I was proud of what she found. So was she.

So, it is time to add this component to the technology application standards we teach our students in a focused way. Our goal is to teach it through electronic portfolios. If we show our students the proper way to present themselves to the virtual world, then maybe some of that training will stick with them when they are growing that tattoo outside of the school walls.

2 thoughts on “Dear Students, Pre-Service Teachers, and Educators,

  1. Scott,
    What a timely post. I am starting a new quarter on Monday and part of that class will include a section on creating a good online presence. In fact, I am using Set Godin’s blog post that you quoted with my students. It is so important for students to understand that everything they do online is permanent.

    A teaching moment presented itself this past week. I happened to be on Facebook and I ended up on the profile of a local teacher. I found a picture of her flipping off the camera. I was shocked! She has over 400 friends on Facebook, many of whom are current students. My students were speechless. (That never happens!) Some of them thought it was cool, but most of them thought it was pretty tasteless for this teacher to post a picture of herself doing something like that. They said the expect teachers to hold themselves to a higher standard. I wish our community would hold our educators to a higher standard, but it appears that this is not a big deal.

  2. Yikes! You would think folks would use a little more common sense. Thanks for sharing that one. My hope is that this post will help my staff and students from making similar mistakes.

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