Strategies for Creating a Positive Professional Online Presence

Every time I log onto the Internet, I leave a mark.  It’s time to make sure my mark is building a positive digital trail. 

1. The first step in creating a positive and professional online presence is to simply search for my name in all the main web browsers. Seeing the information that appears in the search engines and identifying my current digital footprint can help me ensure that the news, images, and web search contain factual information about me. I definitely do not want any inappropriate information posted about me nor do I want any information that could be misconstrued as negative.  Jean Dumais (2013) suggests that searching for your name can reveal the following:

  • How common your name is
  • How much information you have provided on the web (Facebook, LinkedIn, online forums or discussion groups, other social networks)
  • How much information has been written by others about you (mentions in newspapers, professional publications, employer’s website)
  • How much public data exists about you in general (public records ranging from marriage license, real estate transactions, legal actions)

2. When choosing a strategy for my digital footprint, I need to first begin by examining my strengths as well as my weaknesses as an online participant and professional.  This is because it is important to match my strategy with my online presence.  For example, I am a better, blogger, Youtuber or Facebooker than I am a Tweeter, so in order to maximize my digital footprint, I will want to focus on building my profile on those social networking cites rather than spending too much time on other cites I might not use very much. (Mitch, 2009)

3. In keeping in line with this idea, I really need to have the philosophy that quality is always better than quantity; therefore, even though more posts may help “get me out there,” of course I want anything that is out there to be my best work.  So I need to consider this always, and edit material as necessary(Mitch 2009).

4. In order to optimize search engine hits or the occurrence and the size of my digital footprint, I need to increase my blogging and my comments on others’ blogs.  One goal would be to write a blog of about 250 words per week.  This will allow my blog to pop up in the top spots when my name is Googled. (Ratcliff, 2011). In addition, I need to focus on using key words, tags, or relevant titles.

5. I need to utilize my own digital radar by setting up a Google Alert and entering my own name in the Google news alert tab. This way, I will always know what my online presence is, and that will allow me to manage my digital footprint (Nelson & Simek 2008).

6. One thing I need to remember to do is to update my profile on all of my social media sites.  This will allow the viewer to have access to the most recent and relevant information about me (Joel,2009).

7. Next, I need to consider blocking anyone who reflects poorly on my reputation.  In other words, if I am “friends” with someone on Facebook, and he or she posts an inappropriate response, I need to delete it and potentially “unfriend” the person.  It is just not worth it to damage my reputation and jeopardize the integrity of my digital footprint over someone else’s views (Jorgensen, 2012).

8. Another site that I am going to join to enhance my digital footprint is LinkedIn.  According to Dumais, 2013, “this networking site is a good choice for putting your professional foot forward on the web.”  She also states that this social network will change the priority of my name when conducting searches.

9. I am going to make it a habit to search my name about once every month.  Even though I am signing up for Google Alerts, I think it is a good idea to continually monitor what comes up in various search engines (Jorgensen, 2012).

10. I am not going to post status map updates from my phone; I haven’t done this very much in the past, and I am not going to do it in the future, unless I am at a conference or somewhere that reflects my profession.  (Bernard, 2013)


Bernard, D. (2013, August 27). Increase your online presence. Retrieved from

Dumais, J. (2013, March 20). Have you googled yourself lately? control your digital footprint. Retrieved from

Joel, M. (2009, March 05). How to build your digital footprint. Retrieved from

Jorgensen, M. (2012 October 1). Your digital footprint. Available from

Nelson, S., & Simek, J. (2008, September). Watching the digital radar with google news alerts. Retrieved from law_practice_archive/lpm_magazine_articles_v34_is6_pg20.html

Ratzlaff, C. (2001 June 17). Creating your digital footprint with social media [Web].
Retrieved from


The Impact of Digital Footprints

Yes, everything we do on the internet is transparent, and I’m lucky that I was in my forties when I started social networking. That’s because, yes, I was a bit of a wild child in my twenties, not in a reckless way, but I may have posted pictures at parties if I had the opportunity back then. Well, as they say, that was then, and this is now, and I’ve been very responsible as to what others see on sites like Facebook, Instagram and Youtube. In fact, I ask that friends and family do not tag me in pictures on Facebook and Instagram, and quite frankly, they become annoyed, but I like the freedom of choosing what is posted. However, with that said, even though I can keep tagged photos off of my Timeline in Facebook, apparently, I can’t keep them off Facebook. In fact, I just untagged a photo that, quite honestly, was just a terrible photo of me. Yes, even at my age, I still have a bit of vanity! However, the point is that everything that is put on the internet becomes a part of our digital footprint, and I’ve always been aware of that. I’m not saying I’m perfect, but I’ve been pretty careful.

In the past, I have researched what my own digital footprint says about me, but I usually add information to the search because my name is pretty generic: Cynthia Mills, and if you do not know my maiden name and you Google me, you might mistake me for the Cynthia Mills who was just arrested in a “murder for hire case” in Maryland, or for the numerous Dr. Cynthia Mills that exist out there, although I plan to become Dr. Cynthia Mills one day anyway, so I guess that is okay. I’ve often teased my husband about how common the name Mills is and that I wish I had kept my maiden name, but it’s probably a good thing. When I add other key terms to the search, for example, Cynthia Mills edtech, a lot of my course work for this Masters program appears, but I’m proud of that, so I guess I don’t mind it too much, though it is a bit creepy.

My anxiety about digital footprints really is for my students; in fact, I am very concerned about their future and how their digital footprints will follow them. After my students graduate, I often receive friend requests from them on Facebook, and I accept them. Although some students are diligent about their posts and “get it,” there are so many who don’t, and their posts are often inappropriate. This worries me, especially after reading the information on the webpage, Follow your Digital Footprint. just have no idea, so I’m actually going to post this link on my FB page tonight! I really hope they read it. I don’t want to see them work so hard in college, but fail to get hired because of their immaturity and carelessness on social media sites.

My creative expression of my understanding of Communities of Practice, Connectivism, and Personal Learning Networks.

The following iMovie trailer is a creative expression of my understanding of Module II in EDTECH 543, more specifically, it symbolizes my perception of Communities of Practice, Connectivism, and Personal Learning Networks.

I began the trailer with single flowers to represent the learner in a Personal Learning Network. The flowers, like the learner, have petals that stretch outward, symbolizing the individual’s desire to connect to the world. According to Canadian Education Technology Research Specialist, Stephen Downes (2011), “What we learn, what we know — these are literally the connections we form between neurons as a result of experience. The brain is composed of 100 billion neurons, and these form some 100 trillion connections and it is these connections that constitute everything we know, everything we believe, everything we imagine.” Thus, our need for connection drives our desire to learn.

Next, I added several vegetable vines to symbolize the growth of these networks as Connectivism. Each vine has it’s own destination, just as each learner decides his own pathway, yet all the vines are connected by the initial seed. Ana-Maria Marhan of the Institute of Philosophy and Psychology of the Romanian Academy Learning asserts, “Networks are self-organizing systems. Self-organization can be defined as the spontaneous formation of well organized structures, patterns, or behaviours, from random initial conditions. Learning, as a self-organizing process requires that the system (personal or organizational learning systems) be informationally open, that is, for it to be able to classify its own interaction with an environment, it must be able to change its structure.” Each vine grows and changes its structure depending on its environment; furthermore, it produces its own unique product.

Finally, I added pictures of several sunsets to convey the idea of Community of Practice. The sun symbolizes the learner, and the clouds are actively engaged with the sun which defines the totality of the sunset. In comparison, Kristi Newgarden (2009) asserts, “Learning is a social process facilitated by interaction with others who are mutually engaged in the socially and culturally defined practices of the community.” Like the sun and the clouds as they mutually engage in a courtship that produces an array of colors and formations in the sky, learners who participate in Communities of Practice and technology assisted learning are able to collaborate to produce unique learning outcomes.


Downes, S. (2011, 01/05). ‘Connectivism’ and connective knowledge Huffington Post, Retrieved from

Marhan, A. M. (2006). Connectivism: Concepts and principles for emerging learning networks . (Master’s thesis, Romanian Academy)Retrieved from

Newgarden, K. (n.d.). Annotated bibliography – twitter, social networking and communities of practice. Retrieved from

Initial thoughts on Social Networking EDTECH 543

  1.  What are your initial reactions about joining these social networks for use in this course?

My initial reaction to joining these sites was that I felt enthusiastic.  Although I do use Facebook, I don’t use Twitter because when I initially signed up for it about two years ago, I was confused, so I dropped the entire notion of tweeting.  In addition, I have never used Diigo, so I am really excited to learn that interface.  Because I have to use both Twitter and Diigo for a class, I know I will master these interfaces and begin to discover ways in which I might be able to use these sites for my own teaching.

2.   What is your experience in using social media for your own professional development?  

 I never really thought about social media as a professional development tool.  If anything, I guess I have used Facebook to initiate a working relationship with a co-worker and build rapport.  There have been times when I have shared teaching ideas via Facebook with others, but I don’t do that very often.  Perhaps, I should. However, Using Edmodo had helped me grow professionally because not only has it increased my collaboration with peers and students, it has also been a useful tool for organizing lesson plans, sharing lesson plans, and discovering new ways to teach the same topics.

  1. What is your experience in using social media as an instructional strategy in your learning environment?

I have used Edmodo to manage several classes, and I have been very successful.  Although it was a bit difficult to “roll” it out in terms of training my students (and myself, for that matter), I find that the site is an excellent tool for immediate feedback, social interaction, and class management.

4.  What are your expectations for this course?

I’m excited for this class because I think it will involve hands-on learning; in addition, I really want to further my knowledge and experience in this genre, especially when it comes to implementing Twitter and Diigo.