Digital “footprints” and 21st Century Skills standards

by Jane Frizzell, AEA 267 Media Specialist/Consultant

Jane Frizzell, AEA 267 Media Specialist/Consultant

In the 21st Century, for most people a significant part of their personal security and privacy may be tied to their digital footprint. What does that mean? It’s the trail, traces or “footprints” that people leave online. So that means anytime you do or write something online, there will remain a trace even if you delete it. These traces may not only include things we do for personal recreation like Facebook posts, but also financial and legal information.

Here’s a fun exercise. Do a Google search on your name and the city that you live in – use quotes around your name, like “John Doe” Anytown, IA. See what you get. Is the information accurate? Are there things there you didn’t expect to see?

Now think of this in terms of young people who are constantly connected digitally through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. What kind of digital footprint are they leaving? Is it information that may affect a future educational or employment opportunity? This makes practicing good digital citizenship all the more critical. Young people shouldn’t be discouraged from active participation in social media, but they do need to be taught to do it thoughtfully and responsibly.

In Iowa schools this is being addressed through the Iowa Core Curriculum 21st Century Skills standards. These standards cover things such as how to safely and effectively communicate using technology and how to ethically use information. AEA 267 provides resources to support this instruction, such as the CyberSmarts eBook series available through the MackinVIA portal. If you are interested in these resources for your child, contact your school’s teacher librarian or any AEA 267 library media specialist.

To learn more about the impact of the use of technology by young people in the 21st Century, view the video “Digital Dossier” at Another excellent resource is the book, Born Digital: Understanding the First Generation Digital Natives by John Palfrey and Urs Gasser.

Jane Frizzell is a Media Specialist/Consultant with Area Education Agency 267. She is based out of the Clear Lake Office and can be reached at 1-800-392-6640. Area Education Agency 267 serves over 60,000 students. In addition, over 5,000 educators rely on AEA 267 for services in special education, school technology, media and instructional/curriculum support. The agency’s service area reaches 18 counties and nearly 9,000 square miles.

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