Identifying Digital Footprints AND Fingerprints

Students identify the large footprints and small fingerprints they leave in our hyper-connected society.

Photo of Jared Amalong
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How can we teach and reinforce the idea of a digital footprint (creating a Facebook account) and a digital fingerprint (paying for a hot chocolate at Starbucks with the Starbucks Android application)?  Could browsers and phones remind students of the information they are sharing online?  How can a teacher infuse content about online privacy in existing projects in which students create digital artifacts?

I am stewing on a few ideas for Ideate, but wanted to share to resources: and  Both are excellent resources for teachers (and anyone that is interested about our online identities).

Some initial ideas:

  • Student journal to observe online activity
  • Chrome extension to remind students of the tradeoff(s) of using a particular site or web application.
    • Maybe a daily tip and trick?

Share research or student experiences that informed your idea!

I first understood the concept of a "digital fingerprint" when I read "Blown to Bits", an online book about information security and privacy ( While appropriate for some high school students (possibly a college-level text), I searched for content that may be more appropriate for K-12 students and discovered

Inspired by (1)

Digital Footprint


Join the conversation:

Photo of Greg Lau

Love how this concept takes the next step from knowing that we have a footprint and touches on how the footprint actually works. Perhaps it can stimulate ways to stop foot prints or mitigate them, thus better equipping students with the onslaught of "viral" dynamics.

The journal is an an excellent way to provide a framework to see trends and pathways. Oh! What if the students then analyzed the journals in a team effort to help each other identify trends, trace their footprints, identify critical points (red flags or yellow flags) so they are trained to spot warning signs early before something gets dangerous, and even forecast--great practice on seeing where things just might end up if these habits keep up. Turn those journals into tools!

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