EdTech 543: A Plan for Developing Your Positive Digital Footprint and Managing Your Online Reputation

Who am I?  According to my family I am a mom, a wife and chauffeur (but definitely not a chef).  According to my students I am a math teacher, a tutor, and a mentor.  My family, my friends, and my students will tell you that I am honest and hard working.  I am a bit of a math geek and just a little obsessive about what I do.  I’m firm but fair and I love to have fun!  But what if you didn’t know me and you wanted to … what would you think about who I am?

Today, if someone wanted to learn more about me they would begin with an internet search.  I was curious … what would they find?  At first they would discover my basics … name, address etc.  Then they would find links to my Facebook, LinkedIn,  and Twitter accounts.  They would also quickly discover that I own my own business, Sammamish Mathematics (a tutoring company) and that I am a BSU graduate student.  If they used my full name, Kimberly Hefty (instead of Kim Hefty) they would find my WordPress Blog and even more graduate work including a couple of Weebly sites I created and many YouTube videos.  I was surprised when you went to Google Images the first image is actually me!  But then there were the multitude of “Hefty” bag images … I expected that!  With that last name you have to have a sense of humor.

My “image” especially my digital image, is critical!  I have run my own business for the past 13 years.  My business is 100% referral based.  I have never advertised what I do.    So how do students and families find me?  All of my students are referred by other students and their families.  You know that once someone hears about me they start “checking” me out.  I have multiple teaching certificates and local and state business licenses.  My name is fairly unique, so there’s a good chance if a family “Googles” or “Bings” me they will find me.  I have heard from multiple new families that they have seen my “Intro Video” on YouTube or thoroughly read my WordPress blog.  I am so grateful that I have been doing the MET program from BSU!  Honestly, I am not sure I would have even thought about what people could find online.  I am proud to say that I am fully booked for this year and almost fully booked for next year!  I think people are liking what they are finding.



image courtesy of digitalfamilysummit.com


What is a Digital Footprint?

According to Webopedia a digital footprint is “On the Internet a digital footprint is the word used to describe the trail, traces or “footprints” that people leave online. This is information transmitted online, such as forum registration, e-mails and attachments, uploading videos or digital images and any other form of transmission of information — all of which leaves traces of personal information about yourself available to others online.”  In other words, everything you do, say, or post online can (and probably will) be seen by others.

Why is it Important?

In an article by S. Ryan Greysen, MD, Terry Kind, MD, and Katherine C. Chretien, Online Professionalism and the Mirror of Social Media the authors caution, “The Internet has changed many interactions between professionals and the public. The recent development of Web 2.0 applications (also known as “social media”) has created particular hazards for public views of certain professions”(p. 1227).  The authors were primarily discussing the medical profession but ackowledged teachers among those who have been significantly impacted, “School teachers and lawyers across the country have been sanctioned or fired for online indiscretions felt to violate societal expectations for how they represent their personal lives in the public sphere”(p.1227).  It is critical we know how we are being represented on the Web.  By creating a “Plan” we can attempt to control and maintain the image of ourselves, both personally and professionally, we want others to see.

web presence
image courtesy of http://courses.washington.edu/infx546/00g/module7.shtml

My Plan to Develop a Positive Professional Online Presence

1)  Define Myself

2)  Organize Myself

3)  Monitor Myself

4)  Protect My Privacy

5)  Separate Personal from Professional

6)  Control What People “See”

7)  Be Consistent

8)  Be Positive!

9)  Adapt and Stay Current

10)  Reflect Regularly


1)  Define Myself

It is critical that we control our image.  According to Glenn Llopis of Forbes Magazine, “Personal branding, much like social media, is about making a full-time commitment to the journey of defining yourself as a leader and how this will shape the manner in which you will serve others.”  It is critical that we think about how others view us, but in order to do this we must think about how we define ourselves.  Llopis states, “View your personal brand as a trademark; an asset that you must protect while continuously molding and shaping it.  Your personal brand is an asset that must be managed with the intention of helping others benefit from having a relationship with you and / or by being associated with your work and the industry you serve.” One easy first step to defining yourself would be to register your domain name.  Register.com is an easy site to use but there are many others.

2)  Organize Myself

Organization is key to everything we do!  We need to organize our work, our families, and our personal time.  Why wouldn’t we need to organize our Digital Footprint?  Here are some great ideas from Erin Loechner’s blog for organizing many of our web accounts:

For Content Management:
To keep up with friends and colleagues, I swear by Feedly’s RSS system, which is seamless and clean. I also use a combination of Pinterest private boards and Pocket to save ideas and resources for future posts. 

For Social Media Management:
My favorite social media management system is Hootsuite, because you can integrate a variety of different  networks (Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+) from one account. Of course, I’m of the school of thought that social media is best used sparingly, so I keep my networks limited to three: Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest.

For Task Management:
If you’re an online to do list-er, TeuxDeux is beautifully and minimally designed with a handy “Someday” column for dreaming. I tend to prefer paper lists and have recently fallen in love with Whitney English’s The Day Designer planner. It’s spiral bound, modern and has plenty of room for scheduling, note-taking and tasking. If you prefer to use your inbox as a working to do list, GeeTasks app integrates tasks from your email and sends them to your phone for scheduling.

I also think it is important to organize your E-mail accounts by creating folders and regularly filing and deleting items.  A spreadsheet is a fantastic way to organize your passwords.

Alyssa Sklar states “One of my key recommendations is to help users stay on top of their presence online by actively managing it. This is true for everyone – not just kids …  it is critical that you not only know how you and your community appear online, but that you take concrete steps to ensure high-quality, positive links are easy to find”.  Excellent advise!

3)  Monitor Myself

Educator’s Technology recommends that everyone, monitor their internet presence, “Whatever you write online stays online and is even hard to delete. Your online activities leave a trace that anyone can track so easily so we better watch out what we share. Learning about how to manage and monitor one’s digital identity is one of the pre-requisites for raising responsible and good netizens”.  Susan Bearden shares 6 cleaver ways to monitor your

  • Google your name and check the information others can see about you
  • Do the same with other search engines like: Yahoo, Bing. Ask…etc
  • Watch what you post, does it reflect your professional image
  • Think about how your children will feel about what post. Are you a good model for them ?
  • Monitor your social media profiles
  • If you can afford it then check out these paid resources to learn more about your digital identity: reputation.com, regainyourname.com, brandyourself.com

4)  Protect My Privacy

Privacy is critical to protect.   Many sites such as Norton Security, Microsoft, and Apple have multiple recommendations.  I personally like the recommendations from the US Government, they recommend:

Here’s what you can do to protect yourself when using social media:

Privacy Settings: Always check the default privacy settings when opening an account on a social media website. The default privacy settings on many social media websites are typically broad and may permit sharing of information to a vast online community. Modify the setting, if appropriate, before posting any information on a social media website.

Biographical Information: Many social media websites require biographical information to open an account. You can limit the information made available to other social media users. Consider customizing your privacy settings to minimize the amount of biographical information others can view on the website.

Account Information: Never give account information, Social Security numbers, bank information or other sensitive financial information on a social media website. If you need to speak to a financial professional, use a firm-sponsored method of communication, such as telephone, letter, firm e-mail or firm-sponsored website.

Friends/Contacts: When choosing friends or contacts on a social media site, think about why you use the website. Decide whether it is appropriate to accept a “friend” or other membership request from a financial service provider, such as a financial adviser or broker-dealer. There is no obligation to accept a “friend” request of a service provider or anyone you do not know or do not know well.

Site Features: Familiarize yourself with the functionality of the social media website before broadcasting messages on the site. Who will be able to see your messages — only specified recipients, or all users?

5)  Separate Personal from Professional

It is important that I keep my personal identity separate from my business and educator identity as much as possible. Alex Girard recommends, using some accounts such as LinkedIn purely for professional uses and other accounts, like Facebook for purely personal uses.  I plan on using Kimberly Hefty for all my professional work, and my shorter name, Kim, for all personal accounts.

Private vs personal info

The Lake Forest Graduate school blog recommends, “If you are in a leadership role, it is best practice to maintain two separate sets of social sharing; one for business and one for your personal life.  Family pictures, events and comments are private and can be taken out of context in a business setting.    Keep your personal social sharing meaningful and private, while enjoying the benefit of actively contributing for business purposes on designated accounts for Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and/or Google+.”

6)  Control What People “See”

An open and strong Internet means you are in control of what you see, hear, and create online.  It’s your Internet and your digital footprint is one of the most important things on it. Future Conscience recommends that you, “Learn how to control your interface
The place to begin with is actually the element you have the most control over, the physical device or software that you are using to go online.  Learning how to use your firewall and browser security settings when going online is absolutely vital to building a solid foundation for digital privacy and ownership.  Combine this with an understanding of how websites work (for example, Cookies) and the data that is being traded back and forth when you visit one and you are on good standing.”

7)  Be Consistent

Consistency is important in everything we do.  Parents and students expect teachers to be consistent when grading and evaluating.  Teachers expect administrators to be consistent when evaluating or assigning schedules.  So of course we should be consistent when we are online.  Wherever you are online, make sure you’re not confusing anyone. While the audiences of Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Squidoo and other popular networking sites may differ, that doesn’t mean you have to be completely different on them. Adapt to the community; make the conversation fit the space; but keep a sense of you while doing it.

Patterson and McMillan quote Savage (1999), “Consistency is an especially important aspect of developing teacher credibility. Consistency is often a misunderstood concept. Oftentimes people think it is mindless application of rules. However, it is not mindlessly applying rules when the teacher feels like doing so. Rather, it is applying established rules and procedures that are understood by all. ”

8)  Be Positive!

It’s important to remember that we are role models.  Our image and how we conduct ourselves is important.  Being positive in our actions and what we post is important, according to Carol Gerber Allred, “positive action has been rigorously evaluated  … [the conclusion is that] focusing on positive reinforcement and intrinsic motivation in the classroom results in a positive environment for teaching and learning and enhances academic rigor”.  Common sense would say that this attitude must be extended beyond the classroom to all aspects of our lives … especially our life on the Web.  If we want to create a positive digital footprint we should start by being positive!

9)  Adapt and Stay Current

What’s the next Facebook or Twitter?  Our students already know!  It is critical that we adapt and stay current with the latest technologies if we want to be able to effectively communicate with our students.  According to the CITEd Research Center, “New technologies have changed teaching and learning in a number of ways—from graphing calculators to online lesson plans to virtual field trips and simulated dissections, educational technologies can help students access content in new and often exciting ways”.

The modern student communicates in hashtags and quick chats.  Amy Williams reminds us that “Teachers can’t control or change behaviors if they don’t acknowledge and teach appropriate ways to communicate. Social media plays an important role in a student’s life, and examples of the media’s abuse floods the news headlines… Your methods of teaching will go a long way if you evolve your classroom into a modern learning environment, allowing students access to current social media trends and teaching them appropriate ways to harness this technology.Grasp the natural enthusiasm students have and make it work for your objectives. Find the topics and fads your students are interested in.”

10)  Reflect Regularly

Review and reflection is important.  It is critical that you take the time to regularly review who you appear to be online.  Consistently step back and take the time to review your online persona from an outsiders perspective by looking at yourself on Google, Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, just to mention a few.  According to the Vancouver Sun, “Your online persona reflects your true image”.  The article goes on to state, “…start by “ego surfing,” checking the many and varied search engines on a monthly basis to see what comes up with your name”.  It’s not enough to check it once and think you’re done.



Bearden, S. (n.d.). 6 Clever Ways to Monitor your Digital Footprints ~ Educational Technology and Mobile Learning. Retrieved September 28, 2014, from http://www.educatorstechnology.com/2013/08/6-clever-ways-to-monitor-your-digital.html

Gerber, C. (n.d.). Membership. Retrieved September 28, 2014, from http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/sept08/vol66/num01/Seven-Strategies-for-Building-Positive-Classrooms.aspx

Girard, A. (2011, September 19). Faculty & Staff Blog. Retrieved September 28, 2014, from http://www.ccaurora.edu/blogs/faculty-staff/art-design/managing-your-digital-footprint/

Greysen, S. R., Kind, T., & Chretien, K. C. (2010). Online professionalism and the mirror of social media. Journal of general internal medicine, 25(11), 1227-1229.  Retrieved September 25, 2014, from http://link.springer.com.libproxy.boisestate.edu/article/10.1007/s11606-010-1447-1#page-1

Llopis, G. (2013, April 8). Personal Branding Is A Leadership Requirement, Not a Self-Promotion Campaign. Retrieved September 28, 2014, from http://www.forbes.com/sites/glennllopis/2013/04/08/personal-branding-is-a-leadership-requirement-not-a-self-promotion-campaign/

Loechner, E. (2013, January 24). How To Organize Your Online Life | Design For Mankind. Retrieved September 28, 2014, from http://www.designformankind.com/2013/01/how-to-organize-your-online-life/

Protect Your Privacy in a Digital World: 3 Tips for Social Managers. (2014, May 5). Retrieved September 28, 2014, from http://www.lakeforestmba.edu/blog/protect-privacy-digital-world-3-tips-social-managers/

Richardson, W. (2008). Footprints in the digital age. Educational Leadership, 66(3). Retrieved from http://www.ascd.org/publications/educational-leadership/nov08/vol66/num03/Footprints-in-the-Digital-Age.aspx

Savage, T. (1999). Teaching self-control through management and discipline (2nd ed.). Needham Heights, MA: Allyn & Bacon.

Taking Control of Your Digital Footprint. (2011, June 14). Retrieved September 28, 2014, from http://www.futureconscience.com/taking-control-of-your-digital-footprint/

Technology Implementation in Schools: Key Factors to Consider. (n.d.). Retrieved September 28, 2014, from http://www.cited.org/index.aspx?page_id=187

What is Digital Footprint? Webopedia Retrieved from www.webopedia.com/TERM/D/digital_footprint.html

Williams, A. (2013, September 8). Five-Star Technology Solutions – Stone Age Teachers: Why It’s Important For Educators to Stay Current with the Latest Social Media Trends. Retrieved September 28, 2014, from http://www.five-startech.com/component/k2/item/4108-stone-age-teachers-why-it-s-important-for-educators-to-stay-current-with-the-latest-social-media-trends

Your online persona reflects your true image. (2007, November 5). Retrieved September 29, 2014, from http://www.canada.com/vancouversun/news/business/story.html?id=796ebd96-4325-4f5c-82a2-5eeb99ecba4f




3 Responses to EdTech 543: A Plan for Developing Your Positive Digital Footprint and Managing Your Online Reputation

  1. sisson12 says:

    Wow Kim!! What a fantastic job you have done! You have explained what a digital footprint is in such detail that everyone can understand. I liked how you have explained what a digital footprint is and WHY it is important. On your list of items that you created for your own plan, I found “organize myself” to be fantastic. I like how you broke it down into “content management”, “social media management” and “task management”. There are so many aspects to our online lives: personal, professional, social, etc. It makes it easy to manage and organize the way you have broken it down. I also liked your statement of “personal vs. private”. It is amazing how many people would not understand the difference between those two words. Some people need a step by step tutorial on how to act on the internet and what is appropriate for others to view. Your guide has amazing detail that anyone can follow and be successful in the online world. Nice work!

    • Thanks Katie. This was such an interesting assignment but such an important one at the same time. I think it’s easy to forget how much others see about us and what they may conclude. It’s a topic that I’m sure we will need to revisit regularly!

  2. lnebeker says:

    Great work Kim! I really like how you took the module to heart when writing this post. This blog post creates a very clear picture of who you are and your competency in the online world. The fact that you began by describing not only what a digital footprint is, but why it is important was very helpful. Anyone could read the post and come away with a great understanding of the topic, and not just the members of our class.

    I love your 10 step plan. I did not think it was possible, but you covered all of the “what-if’s” of online interaction. Your idea to start with a solid basis of who you are online and then establishing, protecting, and maintaining that image is so clear and complete. Your visual presentation added to the clarity. You did a great job of selecting images and quotes that supported your ideas. You also did a great job of providing concise summaries of the information.

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