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We're all going to find that the winding digital trail we
leave will come back to visit us
"Dear Mr Bartolo, would you please be kind enough to remove
my profile and class related activity from your 2009 Wikispaces
group…it is a negative representation of my profile as a productive
student, and will reflect poorly in future academic selections"
This was an email I received from an ex-student late last week. It
isn't the first, and I'm sure it won't be the last. For the student in
question, my first reaction was: "From 2009? I don't
even know if I remember the password, let alone what the
student's work looked like".
So I typed his name into Google, and there it was - in fact his only
appearance in Google was the work in question, in glorious
high-resolution colour, and it looked bad. Now I'm
sure his work has improved since then (at least I hope it has!), but I
could see his point. Anyone wanting to consider him for employment
would quite possibly type his name into Google, and in the absence of
any other entries for him, would have to rely on this none too
We‘re all going to find that the winding digital trail we leave will
come back to visit us, sometimes in a positive form, but certainly in
ways that are both unexpected and unpredictable.
Only this month The Daily Telegraph ran the headline
Media Hangover", warning Schoolies that any "bad
behavior" that finds its way onto Facebook may also find its way
into their future job prospects, with 50% of employers using social
media to check a candidate's character (
Photos can ruin a Career - Daily Telegraph, 17 Nov, 2012).
Unfortunately, it may not be the students themselves who post the
photo. So do we now need to be constantly on the lookout in case one
of our "friends" posts a possibly misleading photo of us on Facebook?
Any student producing work will find that it will improve in quality
over time, but what if their earlier work becomes the public record of
I finally managed to delete my ex-student's work, as I did previously
when another student had asked me to remove his unfinished entry from
a 2008 animation festival website.
Both students and teachers need to be aware that these digital
artefacts may become more of an issue as the sheer volume of work that
gets uploaded increases.
One solution may be the use of registers of uploaded works, that
include the date and time of the upload, and the log on details to the
host. These would need to be maintained by the uploader of the work,
most likely the time-poor teacher. At any rate, teachers may find
themselves increasingly having to be digital
archeologists, forensically tracking down work that keeps
popping up in the most unexpected of places…