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Digital skills: succeeding in a digital world
Digital skills: succeeding in a digital world

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3 Making your mark online

Image of a very clear shoe print in the sand.
Figure 2 Footprint in the sand

In Week 3 you considered how you appear to others online (your digital profile), how you present yourself (your digital identity) and the traces of activity you leave online (your digital footprint). Digital identity and digital footprint are important for career purposes as many employers will look online to see what they can find out about prospective employees.

You learned how you can keep control of your digital footprint, while making the most of free learning opportunities. You were introduced to the concept of ‘digital citizenship’, a term that is becoming part of everyday language. Being able to communicate well online is a key skill when learning and sharing with others online and to be a good digital citizen in general.

The process of looking at the ‘footprints’ of Manuela, Michael and John and reviewing your own digital footprint highlighted how each person’s digital footprint is different. Your digital identity and digital footprint will change as you become more active (or active in new ways) online.

Studying online

Becoming a student can have an important positive influence on your digital identity. It will introduce you to new interests and new communities of learners, both formal and informal. As you move through your chosen course, the new knowledge and skills you gain can be added to your digital profile. You may find that your contact with fellow students is mainly online. If you are able to interact confidently and sensitively in online spaces such as forums or social media, you will not only reap personal benefits, but you will also encourage fellow learners. For example, you may find yourself able to take a lead in initiating online conversations, when previously you would have held back.

You will also find members of academic staff active on social media. This helps them to share their work widely and to enhance the reputation of the institution they belong to. Searching for relevant academics online will help you to establish more about their work and perhaps even make personal contact with them. Being able to learn from experts in your field is one of the advantages of the internet and social media.

Connecting with others, whether fellow students or staff, can reduce feelings of isolation, provide a means of giving and receiving support and help you to better understand what you are studying. For distance learners in particular, it is a way of broadening your horizons and keeping in touch with people.

You have seen how Manuela, Michael and John have moved forward in their digital journeys. For example, Manuela is using social media to help her pursue her goal of developing a career in marketing. Michael has become more active on Facebook, something he thought he would never do. John has taken steps to take down old information that doesn’t reflect him in a good light, and he has improved his LinkedIn profile.

Activity 2 Digital identity and digital footprint

Timing: 10 minutes

In Week 7 you found how John has been developing his digital identity and managing his digital footprint. In particular, he is using LinkedIn to improve his digital profile, in order to increase his career prospects.

Think about the advice you gave him on building up his LinkedIn profile in Activity 3 Making the most of LinkedIn [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] . Does any of this advice apply to you?

Make a note in your Digital plan of anything you plan to do to continue developing your digital identity or to improve your digital footprint.

Next, you are going to review what you have learned about e-safety, ethical behaviour and ‘digital well-being’.