Creating an Intentional Web Presence: Strategies for Every Educational Technology Professional

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Educators are pushing for students, specifically graduates, to be digitally literate in order to successfully read, write, contribute, and ultimately compete in the global market place. Educational technology professionals, as a unique type of learning professional, need to be not only digitally literate – leading and assisting teachers and students toward this goal, but also model the digital fluency expected of an educational technology leader. Part of this digital fluency involves effectively managing one’s web presence. In this article, we argue that educational technology professionals need to practice what they preach by attending to their own web presence. We share strategies for crafting the components of a vibrant and dynamic professional web presence, such as creating a personal website, engaging in social networking, contributing and sharing resources/artifacts, and attending to search engine optimization (SEO).

I recalled that someone worked on a similar project at McMillian Design Group. But when I did a search online, I couldn’t find anything about it…not even a contact… Frustrating, I was really hoping we could bring someone in to consult with us on this…
The group was finalizing plans for their conference keynote speaker. “It would be great to have a dynamic presenter speak on the topic of high impact educational practices.” “Yes, that’s perfect! Let’s get online and see if we can find anyone with that expertise. It would be great if we could preview sample slideshows, and maybe even an actual presentation on YouTube!”
It’s a busy Friday afternoon. Five members of a search committee are crammed into a room to screen 50 applications for an academic technology coordinator position. At first glance, all of the applicants appear to be qualified for the position. But the members of the search committee are really looking for someone who can support, lead, and inspire faculty at their institution. As the search committee screens the details of each application, one member turns to Google. She is interested to see what comes up from a quick search. Do applicants have a professional website? Do they engage with other professionals on social media?

All of these scenarios are likely familiar. For us, the search committee vignette really resonated. Over the years we have been on various search committees. Two things seemed to have happened with every search: dozens of applicants met the minimum qualifications, but very few applicants excited the search committee. When deciding whom to interview, members of the search committee often turned to Google. Our experience, though, is not unique. Research shows that employers regularly use the Internet to screen applicants (Davison et al. 2012; Reicher 2013; Stoughton et al. 2013). But unlike in the past where employers might only screen applicants to see if there is a reason not to hire someone, a growing number of employers screen applicants to find a reason why they should hire someone. For instance, a growing number of employers are simply looking for validation that an applicant is the professional that he or she claims to be (which Joyce 2014a, refers to as “social proof”); that is, these employers are looking to validate information found in an applicant’s cover letter and resume (see Driscoll 2013; Huhman 2014; Joyce 2014a, b). In fact, a growing number of employers report that they have found reasons to hire applicants as the result of an Internet search (see Careerbuilder.com 2006, 2009, 2012, 2014). Thus, we believe that one of the worst things that can happen for an applicant fighting for an interview is for a search committee to find nothing of substance about an applicant from an Internet search. Some people even believe that an empty Internet search suggests that an applicant is out-of-date and/or lazy, has nothing to share, or worse, has something to hide (Joyce 2014a, b; Mathews 2014); this is especially true for applicants in technology-focused disciplines (e.g., instructional design and technology, information technology, computer science, digital and graphic design) whose web presence also serves as reflections of their technology skills and dispositions.

For these reasons, intentionally creating a well-crafted web presence, and corresponding digital footprint, is important not only for recent graduates but for any professional in a community of practice that values technology use and innovation. In this article, we share our thoughts as to why educational technology professionals need to attend to their web presence and suggest a variety of ways in which they can begin crafting their online presence and intentionally shaping their digital footprints.


Reprinted from TechTrends, 60(4), pp. 320-329, 2016. doi:10.1007/s11528-016-0056-1

See also: https://scholarworks.boisestate.edu/edtech_facpubs/141/

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