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Think I better address the matter of my address! September 30, 2012

Posted by IaninSheffield in CPD.
Tags: , ,

cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo by HerryLawford: http://flickr.com/photos/herry/3321550181/

Yesterday morning I had the pleasure of attending an ATL workshop “Protecting your Professional Identity” led by Sue Coates. Although not an area I’m entirely unfamiliar with, given the nature of my job, there’s always something new to learn. So during the session the following all extended my knowledge base:

  • Several example cases of teachers suspended for inappropriate/unprofessional use of social media
  • We, or indeed others, often leave online trails which lead back to us and about which we’re unaware.
  • Two sites which are specifically about searching for information about individuals
  • A password strength checker
  • How ‘easy’ it is to inadvertently commit an illegal act when an email drops in your Inbox

All good stuff which will prove helpful when advising colleagues in school.

One of the suggestions Sue made was to ‘Google’ your name to see how easy it might be to begin to reveal your digital tracks. Now this is something I tried once and OK I admit it, it was a vanity exercise more than anything, but now I was looking from a different perspective. The results were mostly as I anticipated and as I had previously found: a couple of my social media accounts, a Barnsley councillor, a barrister, a piano tutor and a truck firm. However one result caught my eye:

We have found 157 people in the UK with the name Ian Guest. Click here to find personal data about Ian Guest including phone numbers, addresses, …

Ah! Now I wasn’t expecting that! A couple of clicks, a bit of scrolling and less than a minute later I pretty much had my address details, though the precise address and phone number required registering and paying a fee. Needless to say this concerned me somewhat. The site had picked up my details from the 2002 electoral roll which I assume must precede the time when I began ticking the box on the electoral registration form which forbids my details to be included on the published edited version of the electoral roll. So whilst it might not be the end of the world and there may indeed be some instances where long lost friends or relatives might want to get in touch and use this route, on balance I think I’d prefer that level of detail to remain less visible. I might not be Justin Bieber, but I accept that I do leave digital footprints and am happy and grateful that my professional learning network extends daily as a result of those footprints. That’s OK; what I lose in privacy, I gain from the increasing richness of the environment I enjoy. I guess since I don’t teach any longer, I upset fewer students and consequently don’t attract the kind of attention where a high online profile might be a liability. If anything happened online which caused a problem, regrettable though it might be, I could largely walk away from it. If however my physical location became more public more easily, then stepping back from any issues might be a whole lot harder.

So what to do? Well a quick browse through the site’s Help and Support revealed that I can submit a request to have my data removed from their database, so that’s a start. But I guess if my name’s on the 2002 electoral roll, other companies may already have my details too. This could become a full time job! Or maybe I just better start being sweetness and light, with a view to offending no-one. … oh dear!

I wonder how many colleagues are aware of these kinds of issues? Might be time to think about putting together a session for them.



1. Sam - September 30, 2012

I attended this course run by ATL last year. It was so good and such an eye opener. I have been trying to get the speaker, David Wright from SWFGL to be invited to school to run an Inset session for the whole staff. . He was great.

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