This was written by The Daring Librarian, otherwise known as Gwyneth Anne Jones, who works as a teacher-librarian in Laurel, Md., and who writes The Daring Librarian blog. She was named a “mover and shaker” of 2011 by the Library Journal, and is on the board of directors of the International Society for Technology in Education. A version of this post appeared on her blog.

By Gwyneth Anne Jones

Here are 10 things that teachers, parents and students can do to help ensure a SUPER GEEKY SAFE....errm... Aware! new year. (There is no *safe* on the Internet, only Aware!)

1) Change your passwords. Yes, ALL of them.

According to CNN Tech, an eight-digit password can be hacked in two hours but a 12-character password would take 17 years. Use this handy NEW! Comic Tutorial to create a great new password for every website....don't worry, there's a trick! (In the small print I said three important things:

*Change your passwords twice a year

*Have a different password for Facebook that you don't use for anywhere else.

*I’m not a security expert and nothing is foolproof.

2) Dump your cache, cookies, and clear history

At least once a year (I try quarterly), go to every computer you use public and private, at home and at work — and dump the cache, clear your cookies, and clear the browsing history.

3) Back up your data

“Hacks and hardware failures happen. Before this year gets going, make sure as much of your data as possible is protected, from calendars and contacts to blog posts and work projects. More of us are relying on networks of servers and startups to keep us running. So, now might be a good time to download and back up files of your contacts and blog posts — anything that's valuable to you and portable.”

Get a big external hard drive but also burn the really important stuff to CD or DVD because I've had externals die on me.

“Think of it this way: You — or at least parts of you — live on the Internet. If the Internet caught on fire, what would you grab to carry with you out of the blaze?" (Quoted, inspired and adapted from )

4) Edit your privacy settings and friendships

Facebook is notoriously changing its privacy settings (which is why I've had an on-again and off-again relationship with it). Google "latest Facebook privacy settings" to read blogs with advice on how to double check that you're sharing what you want to share. Consider what you share and who you share it with. Also, look at your friends. Are you really friends with them? Do they add to the conversation? Have they contributed lately?

“While considering what's private and public, take time to evaluate what a ‘friend,’ ‘contact’ or ‘follower’ means to you and what types of information you share with different groups.” (Quoted from )

5) Build a Personal Learning Network

For educators, having a Personal Learning Network is essential to stay in tune with the trends, whether you join a Ning or Twitter (even just for conferences). Here's a “getting started Flickr” gallery so you can start talking to other excited educators about new ideas ... crowdsource!

Got a question? Pose it to the PLN and you'll be amazed at the answers you get! See a question someone else is asking for which you have an answer? Contribute! (I try to give 95% and only ask for help 5%) GIVE, give, and give some more! Share shamelesly! Whatever you create think of your other educators out there who might benefit from it. Add it to your blog, wiki or slideshare! No one likes to re-create the wheel.

P.S.: Always give attribution!

6) Buy your name (and your child’s)

For $10 a year, you can own your own domain through Google Apps. You don't want to be the last person who has their own domain or let someone else get it. I was lazy in this, considered it back in the late ‘90's and went with Angelfire instead. I wish I had grabbed Gwyneth Jones before the Welsh opera singer and the Sci Fi young adult author of tsame name did! Ahh well!

Now I have two domains ... for this blog and for my electronic portfolio.

7) Get wikified
Sure, there are LibGuides and LiveBinders out there but nothing is as easy to use, flexible, FREE, and just a joy as Wikispaces! So, if you're not ready to buy a domain but want more than a school-based web page, create a FREE K-12 Wikispaces.

8) Clean out your Apps!

If you have a smart phone, iPad, or tablet review, clean out the APPS you have downloaded. If you aren’t using them, they are taking up valuable memory and space and could be slowing down your phone or tablet. Also delete old versions of Apps. I had a lot of “lite” FREE versions of Apps that I later bought (such as, yes, Angry Birds and Air Penguin). I get better performance by cleaning once a year!

9) Be transparent and walk wisely

Though some still consider it a big leap for an educator to be transparent on the web, I think that horse has left the barn. I went transparent in 2009. Sure, it's a little scary but worth it if you're building a Planning Learning Network and want to make a "name" for yourself out there. Our names are already "out there" and it’s best to craft how it shows up yourself and be a good role model. So now I’m gwyneth jones here and on Twitter in addition to on my electronic portfolio and on my wikis.

We should all be good role models for our kids and students about the footprints we leave on the web. Google your name, your child’s name, (“your name” add state) and see what comes up. It is up to us to create a positive digital footprint, one that we can show future education institutions, employers and others.

10) Consolidate your flashdrives ... and then try the cloud!

We all have a gajillion flashdrives floating around from 128mg's to16gb's.

Lazy Way: Gather them all and create a folder on your external HD called flashdrive backups (or one folder per flashdrive) and drag all of the material in there.

Smart Way: Trash what you don't need and save only the archive-worth stuff. Are those drives named? Do you have an .RTF doc on it that says "If found, please read," with your contact information? I give every new teacher to my school a new 4G flashdrive and sometimes they lose them (I'm looking at you, Justin! LOL.) You want to give yourself a chance to get it back if lost.

Now throw out old flashdrives and consider using Dropbox, Amazon Prime storage, iCloud, or Google docs to save your stuff! Don't have Dropbox? I blogged about this amazing resource a couple months ago. Get it by using this special secret squirrel link to register for dropbox. Educators can use their school email account and get EXTRA FREE SPACE! (it's a geeky pyramid scheme but so worth it!) Dropbox allows you to store your files online, share files with others, and sync your documents with multiple computers and mobile devices. I have it on my iPad and all my Macs both home and at school!

This is a must-have tool for educators! It's free, convenient and saves times.


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