We’ve been stalking people in english class.

Wanting to teach the kids in my class about concepts of digital footprint and online safety, I used three people well known from the edusphere as examples: Will Richardson, Jabiz Raisdana and Jeff Utecht. I introduced these three friends to the students in my class by giving them only a photo and a name. I simply told the kids in my class: find out all you can about these three guys.

The students made a list of places to search. They started with simply Google and then soon expanded to other places such as flickr, youtube, twitter, wordpress, linkedin, delicious and facebook. They expanded into a Yahoo domain search and searching other sites such as whois.net. Soon their lists of information began to grow. These are some of the things my students learned:

Will Richardson

Jeff Utecht

Jabiz Raisdana

In two periods (about 90 total minutes of research time) my students managed to find quite a lot of details about these three gentlemen.

When we turned from discussing digital footprint to instead looking at online safety, my students were at first shocked and quite horrified at all the information that Jeff, Jabiz and Will had chosen to share online. Then they looked a little deeper. We discussed safety and what safety meant. In the end, my students were amazed at the amount of information shared but felt that overall these guys were being safe. They were concerned about them being able to find a phone number for Jeff online and they were also concerned about Will’s kids and the amount disclosed about them; but they also had to admit that they were not able to find any contact information, school name, etc.

This turned into a great experience for all of us involved. I gained some deeper insight into how my students search online and what kinds of information they can find. We brought many skills together that we had been working on for the last month. We got to talk about safety and digital footprint; two vital concepts for for kids of this age to understand.

Now we can concentrate more on making connections with people around the globe.

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