Students Learn Impact of Digital Footprint

Students at Young Men’s College Preparatory Academy received their laptops in mid-October

In today’s world of cell-phone texts, social media posts, and online videos, what a student says or does in the digital world may come back to haunt them in the future. That’s just one of the lessons students are learning during a special PowerUp digital citizenship class happening at all 11 high schools participating in the district’s one-to-one laptop initiative.

“Today’s world is full of technology, and it’s important that students know about good ethics and what is proper and improper behavior when using technology,” said HISD junior Charlie Barrio, who recently attended the class with his peers at Sam Houston Math, Science & Technology Center.

The interactive, hands-on, 70-minute lesson is required for all students receiving a laptop as part of the district’s PowerUp initiative. Although all student laptops have had Internet filtering installed that will block social media websites, the district wants to ensure students understand the importance of having a good “digital footprint.” A digital footprint is the data trail left by interactions in a digital environment, which include the use of videos, mobile phone, Internet, and other connected devices.

“Many colleges and scholarship organizations will look at a student’s Facebook page and other social media posts when reviewing their application,” said Instructional Technology Program Specialist Shelbi Blackmon. “Students need to understand the long-term implications of what they say and do on the Internet.”

In addition to their digital footprint, students are learning about the dangers of sharing passwords and personal information, cyber bullying, identity theft, copyright infringement, and plagiarism.

Parents of students at the 11 PowerUp schools are also learning the importance of proper online behavior and digital citizenship at informational sessions. All parents and students must sign an agreement stating that they understand appropriate Internet behavior and responsible use of technology before the student can take possession of a laptop.

Students at three schools received their laptops in mid-October as part of PowerUp. The remaining eight campuses will distribute student computers in January 2014.