The Courage to Be Well-Googled

cliff jumping

Photograph “Cliff Jumping” by Dennis Barnes (Flickr) under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic license.

I googled myself and didn’t find very much. I’m not sure that’s a good thing. From the reading I’ve done, to be “googled well,” could open up a lot of doors for learning, for sharing, for creating.

For me, it’s not a problem of whether or not to  create a positive digital footprint, it’s a problem of knowing how to. I feel like I started too late and I can’t catch up. I’m just getting the hang of blogging, and now it seems everyone is curating on Tumblr.

Technology has not moved seamlessly into my life. I have to work hard at it. Is it that I am not a digital native? When it comes to technology, my way of learning seems laboured and time consuming.

According to Will Richardson, “Publishing content online not only begins the process of becoming “Googleable,” it also makes us findable by others who share our passions or interests.” As an older educator, I think this is where the shift has to happen. I was recently in a workshop on the use of Twitter. Someone in the audience said, “I really don’t think I have much to share.” We were raised in an era when published “experts” told us what to do and how to think. Another example: Our school has been looking for an expert to guide us in the use of ipads in the classroom. There are many local school districts who would like to create a community of practice on this topic, but not one who want to tell us how to do it. The era of the sage on the stage is over. And yet we cling to it. How can we gain the courage to let go? It means taking risks, and inherent in risk are mistakes. Therein lies the irony. With our mistakes glaringly available for all to see, will we still be well-googled?

Richardson, W. (2008). Footprints in the digital age. Educational Leadership. 66(3), 16-19. Retrieved from


About sandralbecker

An educator who is passionate about the creation of a school Learning Commons, which supports inquiry, critical thinking, and collaboration.
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3 Responses to The Courage to Be Well-Googled

  1. kelasher says:

    Learning + sharing + creating + shift + risk taking + mistakes = courage

    Your post provides a valuable perspective that encompasses one of the key elements for digital foot printing – courage.

    Becoming well googled does require a shift in our thinking, a shift away from only seeking answers, towards putting out a few of our own. That is where I struggle the most. Perhaps this is because being a good learner in the past meant possessing an ability to acquire facts and knowledge in competition with classmates. Times have changed. Our students are now encouraged to create knowledge collaboratively. I don’t think I have yet fully made this shift to sharing and creating knowledge, particularly on the web. Is it wrong that I don’t really want to put myself out there? Am I simply too unaccustomed to old habits to become truly engaged in creating a digital footprint that makes me well-googled? Or do I simply lack the courage, afraid to put myself in a position of being wrong, of being judged by others?

    Change of any kind involves an element of risk that requires courage. For digital natives, there is no change required. For them, a digital footprint will have always been a part of their identity. But for the rest of us, this is a change that requires us to find our courage. Thank you for reminding me of that.

  2. Thank you for your thoughtful post, Sandra. I’ve been thinking about your questions for the past day. I’m wondering if the answer exists in three levels. First, we must analyze our individual contributions. As your Twitter example illustrates, rather than the “I really don’t think I have much to share.” perspective, we can self-reflect and ask the question “What can I contribute?”

    A community of learners supports risk taking and the making of mistakes for all to learn from. “Solutions that seek to change school culture and adolescent behaviour take time and concerted collaborative effort.” (Cassidy et al., p. 529) I know you work hard at integrating technology in a thoughtful way for your students. If we all worked as hard and made a concerted collaborative effort, the desire to experiment and innovate has the potential to outweigh the fear of making mistakes.

    The third level comes from the extensive connections made through Google, Facebook, etc. “Really, this creates a collective brain, which has never occurred in the history of mankind.” (Kligiené, 2012, p. 66) This sentence resonated with me. The saying ‘The sum is greater than the whole.’ comes to mind. If we work collaboratively, could our schools be well-Googled? This in turn filters cycles back to the individual. As teachers reflect on ‘What can I do?”, an inevitable by-product will be that they become well-Googled in the process.


    Cassidy, W., Brown, K. N., & Jackson, M. (2012). ‘Under the radar’: Educators and cyberbullying in schools. School Psychology International, 33(5), 520–532.

    Kligienė, S. (2012). Digital footprints in the context of professional ethics. Informatics In Education, 11(1), 65-79.

  3. ttallerico says:

    Sandra and Kim,

    Both of your posts reflect on an aspect of digital participation I hadn’t considered – courage. I believe I don’t contribute much online because I am a very private person in some respects and really consider what I have to say before I post anything. But perhaps it is just a matter of courage…and a willingness to make mistakes in an enormous public forum and have my character and my contribution judged on such a small sampling of the real me.

    This small digital sample of my lifetime of work, which has almost exclusively happened offline is what worries me though. As stated by Weaver & Gahegan (2007) The consequences of inaccurate… data can be extremely damaging.” and “can lead to false interpretations of a digital persona “(p. 340) They also note “if someone’s digital persona is erroneously tagged… in some database due to incomplete data, errors in the data, or inappropriate conclusions by an analyst, the onus often falls on the individual to remedy the transgression.” (p. 345) I don’t want to put my hard earned reputation at risk or put myself in a position where I have to be explaining my actions because of a faulty conclusion drawn from my digital activities. We have seen the consequences of being judged based on what is online in the stories of Ashley Payne and June Talvitie-Siple.

    I’m not sure I am ready to put myself out there more than I already have to due to course requirements. Courage still eludes me although I am gaining more experience in this relatively “safe” environment and know that ultimately I want to be the one in control of my digital footprint.


    Smith, H. (2010) Teacher fired over Facebook. CBS. (Video file) Retrieved from:

    The Internet and Our Right to Privacy (Video file) Retrieved from:

    Weaver, S. D., & Gahegan, M. (2007). Constructing, visualizing and analyzing a digital footprint. Geographical Review, 97(3), 324-350. Retrieved from:

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