Your students need you more than you can imagine! Are you prepared to help them?
At school, our class read an article which said that 84% of employers and colleges "Google" candidates as part of the interview & hiring process. Every time that I say this to high school students...EVERY TIME.......their jaws drop and they are surprised. They begin asking questions about what these potential employers have the right to look at. They almost always run and google themselves.
A few years ago there was a lot of discussion about leaving a digital footprint and how everything you do on social media can be seen. At that time, the idea was "DO NOT do things that will make you look bad on social media and the internet, because it will hurt you when applying for a job".
This was true, and I think most people knew that.
That changed. I do not feel that this concept is getting enough attention by anyone, but that attitude is completely outdated. At this time, it is assumed you are not stupid enough to have dirt on you on social media or the internet. If you do, they will see it, but you would have to be fairly ignorant to not have considered this and ensured you did not have "dirt" that was visible.
Instead people are searching for you accomplishments. This should be obvious. Employers and colleges should be seeking out people that are already doing great things, rather than those who only made sure to avoid dirt. Some will argue that there are many great students, however, that do not show up on the internet because they are not on social media, do not blog, and do not have an online presence. I realize that, and that is a legitimate concern, however, it may be time to change that behavior. Join a Google + community and share conversation. Blog about something you are passionate about. Get involved with projects that deserve to be written up by others. It may no longer be okay to be "invisible" from the web, because it has become the new "portfolio".
I do think that students should put more time and effort into having positive things pop up when their name is "Googled". Self branding, self-promoting, and marketing your skills and accomplishments is becoming a bigger piece of the puzzle daily. This is unfortunate for many of us who do not want to "self promote" and become a salesperson for their own worth. Some do not want to share their opinions with the world, as they are more comfortable keeping to themselves. What are these students supposed to do? Who can promote them?
The answer to these questions and issues, and the most concerning issue of all, is that there is someone who can help these students to understand the concerns and safety regarding use of the interent, but also the importance of creating a rock-solid digital footprint of awesomeness. The problem is that most of them are not even considering this.
SCHOOLS, TEACHERS, ADMINISTRATORS!
Unfortunately, no matter how many really awesome worksheets (which is both an oxymoron and blatant sarcasm) students do, this will not help them create a stronger digital footprint. Quizzes, tests, and even things such as papers written for only the teacher, presentations given their class, and others will not help them create a stronger digital footprint.
Do you really want to help your students succeed? Do you really want to help them get an advantage on the competition? Then help them! It is possible. Instead of learning content inside of a big brick box called school, and taking multiple choice tests and quizzes, and giving them pecentages and letter grades as feedback, empower them! Allow students to use the content they are learning, along with 21st century skills, technology, and soft skills, to change the world. Have them doing projects in the community, with the community, in order to make the community a better place. Make this interdisciplinary. Get the community involved. Draw attention to the world-changing and awesome things the students are doing. Have them blog and reflect on it. Advocoate for them. Get media involved. Get them on the radio, television, and in the newspaper. Get them active in Google + communities.
Please accept this challenge. Try it. You will see students begin to take ownership in their learning. They will see the relevance to their lives and future and thank you for it. They will begin to like learning, planning, and more importantly, being compassionate members of the community, so much that they will be in before school, at lunch, afters school, on weekends, and in summer asking to do more. This is when you have "taught a man to fish, and fed him for a lifetime". This is when you have inspired lifelong learners that are prepared for a rapidly changing world which will require this. This is where you have actually raised compassion and passion and subsequently increased the amount of "good" in the world. As a bonus, they will learn the material more effectively than they ever have before. And I'm not talking about learned it for the next couple weeks so they can do well on the test, but "learned it" and added the wisdom to their repetoire.
In the process of doing this, your students will have began creating a rock-solid, top-notch digital footprint that will get them recogized and get them in the door to job interviews. It is up to you to not only advocate for them, but more importantly, to provide them with the platform, and authentic audiences, in which they can show the world.
If done correctly, your students should be begging businesses and colleges to "GOOGLE" them. They will not have to worry, though, because those businesses and colleges will be "GOOGLING" them, and they will shine.
Students deserves this. They really do.
Now if you haven't already, which I know you just did, go and Google yourself. How would your digital footprint and online portfolio fare in the real world?