Oct 032014
 
Found a foot

This Monday (29th September 2014) the Managing Your Digital Footprint project launched across the University of Edinburgh.  I’m hugely excited about this project as it is a truly cross-University initiative that has been organised by a combination of academic departments, support services and the student association all working together, indeed huge thanks and respect are due to Louise Connelly at IAD for bringing this ambitious project together.

I am representing EDINA across both of the project’s strands: a digital footprint awareness-raising campaign for all students (UG, PGT, ODL, PhD) which is led by the Institute for Academic Development (IAD) in collaboration with EDINA, the Careers Service, EUSA, Information Services, and other University departments; and a research project, a collaboration between IAD, the School of Education, EDINA and EUSA, which will examine how students are managing their digital footprints, where such management is lacking, and what this might mean for future institutional planning to build student competence in this area.

Before saying more about the project it is useful to define what a “digital footprint” might be. The best way to start that is with this brilliant wee video made specially for the campaign:

YouTube Preview Image

Digital footprints, or the tracks and traces you leave across the internet, are a topic that frequently comes up in my day to day role as social media officer, and is also the focus of a guest week I provide for the MSc in Digital Education’s IDEL (Introduction to Digital Environments for Learning) module. Understanding how your privacy and personal data (including images, tags, geo locations) are used is central to making the most appropriate, effective, and safe use of social media, or any other professional or personal presences online. Indeed if you look to danah boyd’s work on teens on Facebook, or Violet Blue’s writings on real name policies on Google+ you begin to get a sense of the importance of understanding the rules of engagement, and the complexities that can arise from a failure to engage, or from misunderstanding and/or a desire to subvert the rules and expectations of these spaces. What you put online, no matter how casually, can have a long-term impact on the traces, the “footprints” that you leave behind long after you have moved on from the site/update/image/etc.

When I give talks or training sessions on social media I always try to emphasize the importance of doing fewer things well, and of providing accurate and up to date bios, ensuring your privacy settings are as you expect them to be, and (though it can be a painful process) properly understanding the terms and conditions to sites that you are signing up for, particularly for professional presences. Sometimes I need to help those afraid to share information to understand how to do so more knowledgeably and safely, sometimes it is about helping very enthusiastic web/social media users to reflect on how best to manage and review their presences. These are all elements of understanding your own digital footprints – though there are many non-social media related examples as well. And it is clear that, whilst this particular project is centered on the University of Edinburgh, there is huge potential here for the guidance, resources, reflections and research findings from the Managing Your Digital Footprint project to inform best practice in teaching, support and advice, and policy making across the HE sectors.

So, look out for more on my contributions to the Managing Your Digital Footprint campaign – there should be something specifically looking at issues around settings very soon. In the meantime  anyone reading this who teaches/supports or who is a student at the University of Edinburgh should note that there will also be various competitions, activities, workshops, resources and advice throughout 2014-2015, which will focus on how to create and manage a positive online presence (digital footprint), and which should support students in their: professional networking; finding the right job; collaborating with others; keeping safe online; managing your privacy and the privacy of others; how to set up effective social media profiles; using social media for research and impact.

Digital Footprint campaign logo

The Digital Footprint project logo – anyone based at the University of Edinburgh will be seeing a lot of this over the coming months!

The research strand of the project is also underway but don’t expect anything more about that for a wee while – there will be a lot of data collection, analysis and writing up to do before we are ready to share findings. I’ll make sure to share appropriate updates and links here as appropriate. And, of course, questions and comments are welcome – just add yours to this post.

Find out more

Feb 032011
 

As many of you may already know I’ve been working with my colleagues to create a set of guidelines on blogging and social media for some time. I am therefore very excited to let you know that we have just published version 1.0 of the EDINA Social Media Guidelines on the EDINA website under a CC (Attribution-ShareAlike) license.

The guidelines are intended to encourage and support use of social media but also to provide some common sense advice about getting presences set up, dealing with difficult comments, etc.  We have been using various draft versions of the guidelines internally for some time in order to gather feedback on how well they work, what else should be covered, etc. and this has been an invaluable process. I think the guidelines that have emerged are much stronger for the community input we’ve had and this first full version feel really compact, really relevant and cover a lot of ground, or, as my colleague Paul puts it: the guidelines are “a short but meaty” document.

Obviously social media moves fast and to stay relevant these guidelines will continue to develop, iterating regularly to take account of new tools and technologies and to take account of the feedback we receive back. With that in mind I would love to hear your comments and feedback on this first version.

Publishing the guidelines means we are not only being transparent about our own processes of adopting and using social media but it also means we can learn from others’ experiences and feedback. We are also sharing what we have learned over a roughly two year process. When I began drafting the guidelines I reviewed other social media guidelines (for which Jeremiah Oywang’s blog is always a useful source) including those from IBM, the UK Government Twitter guidance (links to Guardian coverage as the original copy is no longer available), various local councils policies, the BBC guidelines and, curiously but very usefully, the US Air Force flow chart for dealing with comments (which has inspired our own comment moderation guide).

We’ve also used the guidelines as an opportunity to flag up some of our current social media activity. We already have a social media page on the EDINA website but we’ve also posted a news item today to highlight some of the recent activity on those blogs, twitter accounts, Facebook pages, etc. that we list. My colleagues at EDINA share their substantial expertise and experiences through project, service and team social media presences and I highly recommend taking a wee look around the blogs in particular.

I hope you’ll find the guidelines interesting and if you think they might be useful for your own organisation please do have a look, grab a copy and adapt as you’d like – though I’d love to hear how you’re using them – do leave me a comment or drop me an email!