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  • Writer's pictureAmy Burvall

Leveraging for Legacy


image: my student, Sam St. John

I’ve been really enjoying participating in #etmooc, and the last Blackboard session with Alec got me thinking of connectivism again. Each year I have my IB Theory of Knowledge students read “Knowing Knowledge” by George Siemens (2006)

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Last year we had a lively socratic circle activity with a Twitter backchannel, but this year I decided to include the reading and obligatory reflection in their semester exam. They responded in our Diigo group (click to view)

How can we leverage web tools to maximize our connections and establish a positive digital footprint (be “Googled Well” as Will Richardson would say)?

I’ve been into personal branding for a few years now (due to History for Music Lovers), and am really passionate about cultivating a personal brand that transcends one’s workplace or school.

In his best-seller Linchpin, author Seth Godin identifies linchpins a people who

“stand out…invent, lead (regardless of their title), connect others, make things happen…delight and challenge their customers and peers…and turn each day into a kind of art”.

That’s what I want to be and that’s what I would love my students to be.

Last summer I gave a workshop talk about Personal Branding / Digital Footprints for Educators and Students. I decided to create a Wix website so the attendees could take a digital “goodie-bag” home (and that has become my trademark m.o. for conferences). It’s divided into these categories:



Celebration (basically, promotion)


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*Click here for website

My main point is that we (students and educators) should be producing content and connecting with others often and seamlessly so we can establish a defined digital presence. It might mean having different “digital identities” for different spaces – another aspect I find fascinating.

Here are my Tips for Educators and Students

1. Find at least 1 CURATION thing that works for you – Diigo,, Pinterest, Tumblr, etc.

2. Find at least 1 CREATION thing that works for you and make that your focus (for me, it’s more Twitter and YouTube, but it could be a YT vlog, a blog, Instagram, G+, Facebook, Slideshare, Socialcam, whatever)

3. Identify DIFFERENT SPACES/ SERVICES for the different “you” – for example, my Tumblr blog is primarily frivolous reblogs of design, typography, fashion, and film, but I have 7 other blogs, each for a different purpose and audience.

Archive shots of my Tumblr

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versus…one of my course blogs

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I just made a Vizify which highlights some (unfortunately not all) of my spaces.

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4. DEVELOP your  PLN, deal with social media management (maximize it), harness the info available through RSS, social bookmarking , and groups.

My G+ communities:

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5. Hone skills of NEW LITERACIES like vlogging, blogging, hashtagging, microblogging (e.g. understand the nuances of hashtagging, or the aesthetics of vlogging)

6. Develop a working PORTFOLIO and a HUB (create a blog or website, and be diligent about updating; make a web hub in About.Me or Flavors.Me for easy access to all your online spaces.

7. Cultivate a PROFESSIONAL PROFILE (same avatar, consistent user name)- *I have a folder of about 3 avatars I use consistently, and 2 of them are black and white  (because the high contrast is noticeable and everyone looks better in black and white)

My go to pic:


8. Be ADAPTABLE to change (like switching platforms) – I had to migrate my 7 blogs from Posterous to WordPress when the former started acting wasn’t painless, but necessary nonetheless.

9. Be ADVENTUROUS  in testing new platforms and tools – be varied in their use (Prezi, Projeqt, Thinglink, etc.) – understand what medium to use for your message (from one of my favorite books:


10. Understand the NUANCES – understand one’s AUDIENCE and play to that audience


11. Strive to be INTERACTIVE – ask a question, propose a challenge, throw in a quiz or survey, organize a lip dub!

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12. Use IMAGES widely and wisely – studies confirm that posts or feeds with images receive more attention. But is it the right kind? It’s up to you to make sure any image you endorse online would be something your mom is ok with.

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13. Post GOOD STUFF overtly – this is especially true for students…make sure when someone Googles you, a bevy of interesting, artistic/intelligent work rises to the top and all those silly selfie shots at Friday’s party are near impossible to find. (e.g. when I Googled a student of mine, this project came up:


14. Stay CLASSY not SASSY – there will be times when others critique you or trolls attack…be a consummate professional in your response. Always say “thanks for your comment”, since no one can tell you are being sarky. (*tip: also beware of reblogging people with questionable handles, because it will reflect on you).

This is a great FB page, but I feel weird reblogging

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15. Give SHOUT OUTS often – people love to be commended, complimented, credited, critiqued…and if someone does the same for you, be sure to acknowledge them and express your gratitude.

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There you go- 15  hopefully simple and helpful tips for you to leverage the Web to create your legacy. Have fun!

#collaboration #WillRichardson #personalbranding #digitalspaces #Vizify #hashtagging #digitalidentity #linchpin #etmooc #newliteracies #curation #sethgodin #creation #Google #connectivism #promotion #McLuhan #tips #GeorgeSiemens #connection #digitalfootprint

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