(This is step five in the free Teacher 2.0 course/"experience" at Mightybell - participate at https://mightybell.com/experiences/3ff5259e1c4d9948-Teacher-2-0.)
A personal web presence (PWP) is a site that tells other people about who you are. Depending on your age or habits, you can have very different responses to this kind of public openness! There are two really good reasons for setting up a PWP.
First, colleges are now asking students for the link to their personal websites. This is a chance for students to manage their own online presences, rather than letting Facebook or a Google search represent them. Think of a PWP as an online portfolio or resume, and you can see how valuable this will be to a student--especially in a world where so many opportunities are now available to study or work on special interests or passions. Your students will need you to know how this is done, and to have you model it for them!
Second, this same world of opportunities around special interests and passions is not just for students! Many careers, including education, will now provide opportunities for those who thoughtfully showcase their interests and skills. One "non-promotional" way to think about a PWP is to show others how you might help them.
I have been working my way around to creating my own PWP for a while. I probably have two purposes. First, I need to gather my interests, knowledge and experiences into one place - probably using it as some kind of digital portfolio. Secondly, I feel driven to share what I know with others. I KNOW that I don't know it all or have all the answers, but what I do know I want to share. This can be done so easily now through the internet. Thank you for prompting me further down this path.
Now the question, what kind of presence? Do I split my presence so that I can be (a) professional on one (b) whimsical on another and (c) advice column on another???? Decisions, decisions.
Oh what I would have given for this capability when I was suffering the isolation of growing up in a small seaside town in Cornwall, UK. ("Kids these days don't know how lucky they are!")
mmmm well I don't think I have much of a PWP... I use the web a lot, I have stuff contributed to a number of sites, I have my own (quite neglected) webpage and I have a number of blogs for my students at school. I am on facebook and some other forums but nothing is collected to create much of a presence.
My webpage was developed mainly for Family History Research and sharing but I have changed providers now and can no longer get to the site to renew it. Have not had time to create a new website on the new providers site.
My most obvious presence is probably on NSW DET MAANG where I am a regular poster and have a number of followers. I was rather shocked to find one of my followers is a head honcho type from one of the curriculum development sections in Sydney!!!
Probably should look at getting all my stuff sorted and collected in one spot.
My goodness! It's difficult to choose just one PWP, especially now that there are so many excellent ones out there. I have been spending a lot of time recently on Lisa Nielsen's site and particularly like the way that she has integrated her "day job" work with her advocacy for systemic change in education. Lisa has a number of other websites, a Ning for innovative educators, and a very active presence on Twitter, on Google+, and on Facebook, and she integrates all of these into the site. I would love to emulate that!
I'm not sure if this is a thing to improve or just an observation, but I notice that Lisa lives her online life somewhat more publicly than I would. If you look at my Google+ profile and aren't in one of my circles, you'll find that I'm less likely to post publicly than she is. I also don't have a direct link to any of my purely day-job-related online "stuff" -- though I doubt that too many people (other than students looking for another copy of some handout) would be interested in the "beautiful" site (colors, etc., specified from On High) that I maintain, for school, with the cutting-edge technology :-) of FrontPage 2003. My district is slowly transitioning to Google Apps for Education, and when that happens, I suppose I'll be able to make a better site for my face-to-face students -- I wonder if colors, fonts, etc. will still be specified??
Anyway, I think Lisa does an excellent job of portraying the real person as well as the public figure –- and from interacting with her on Google+ and some Facebook discussion groups, it seems to me that the public persona of Lisa must be quite similar to the private person. As I build a more formal, intentional PWP, I think I need to follow Lisa's example (and yours, too, Steve) in some respects. Like Laura Gibbs, I don't want to live my purely personal life in a public online venue, but I do want to make sure that my public persona is speaking in my own, authentic voice.
I think you stated this very well. For all my sharing, most of it is professional and not personal, and I think we come to our own balance.
I did blog this on my own space (http://specialed.wordpress.com/2012/01/09/personal-web-presence/) and also think about our web footprint. I do a rich mixture of professional and personal blogging, and am often surprised as to what readers respond to. Making the site more visually attractive is something I have yet to do, but am grateful for the ease of use of the Wordpress platform.
I almost quite blogging a year ago and almost took down my blog because I thought my web presence might hurt my chances of getting a job. But I've since come to the conclusion that if what I am writing bothers potential employers that badly, perhaps I would be happier working elsewhere!
Daniel: I think this attitude is an interesting, and healthy, outgrowth of the web and what I'm currently referring to as the "deinstitutionalization" of our cultures--with a shift in power from the organization to the individual. Your attitude reflects that, and maybe your personal progression in that attitude mirrors the larger changes...?
I think the it's definitely a case of the organization catching up to the individuals, Steve. Organizations, schools in particular, seem to always lag behind especially when it comes to the dissemination of knowledge. I remember a headmaster at a school I worked in 1991 referred to a PC as a "glorified typewriter". As the administration becomes populated with people blogging and tweeting, it becomes more accepted but it will always lag because school administrators are groomed to be averse to risk.
So true. Warning, deep thinking ahead...
So the question in my mind is: are we seeing something much larger than institutional lag? Does the web dramatically reshape the relationship between the institution and the individual? Institutional narrative-building and messaging losing much of their traditional power to crowd-sourced ratings (think restaurants, manufacturers, etc.) and peer collaboration (wikipedia). I wonder if the shift from your fear of hurting your changes of getting a job was more than just an individual growth moment, but actually the manifestation in your own life of a larger sense in which we're less fearful of traditional power...?
Aahh...well my own case is being repeated all over the world in several ways. Think "Arab Spring" where the institutional or political hand gets to be so heavy, that people think they have little to lose by using social media to challenge that power. And you see how it drives the old authoritarian establishment nuts at the lack of control. The press secretary, the spokesperson, the PR firm, the media czar...all of these lose relevance when information flows more freely.
I voluntarily darkened my blog thinking that might help my cause, but it was too late. Silence never garners much respect, especially after being so vocal. So I made a decision about what sort of world I wanted to live in; one where creativity and original thought is welcomed, or one where such endeavors are regarded with suspicion.
http://www.attheprincipalsoffice.com/ this blog was created by my principal and good friend Lori Cullen. It has both personal and professional components as well as a section for books worth checking out and inspiring quotes. It is easy to navigate around as well.
http://www.eduboot.com/ this blog was created by my partner teacher and friend Jon Patry. If offers some insightful musings about hot topics in education and new apps that are worthy of a look.
Both these blogs are user friendly and informative with great curb appeal! Both blogs represent the author professionally and in an approachable manner.
http://edustate.edublogs.org/ this is my personal blog and is a work in progress. The feedback that I have received is that it is a good representation of myself as a professional as it is brightly coloured, a little edgy and user friendly to foster learning of those that visit.
I have been working on my personal web presence, PWP, for years and will continue to do so because .... well because. I want to get it "right" but I really don't know what this is (I also have a little ADHD so when I see something that I like - I use it.)
I have linked up my blog and other sites to an ecard that I like .. for now. http://about.me/VRBurton
I have looked at tons of educator blogs and sites and I like them all because they give me ideas about what I want or don't want in mine. The sites that I really like are the ones that I go to and then forget why I was there because I have clicked my way through to many of their interesting and valuable resources and posts.
There are many sites that do that. I love to visit the Edublog Awards Winner Page to see who is listed and then visit their sites. I always find great material there. Some use them as their PWP and some use them as merely a blog, either way there is always a great deal of quality to see and read.