Social Media in the Classroom: Students' Future Resumes?

Sunday, July 12, 201511:00 AM

This week I began my more scholarly reading and writing by reading the April 2015 issue of the ISTE publication, entrsekt. I enjoyed many of the articles and found a common theme between a few: students' online lives. One article, "Social Media Presence is Modern Day Resume" by Patrick Larkin, posed the question in the image above: are our students receiving the support they need to put their best digital foot forward?

Larkin discussed the role of social media in schools, arguing that "social media presence is modern-day resume." While I'm not sure that the traditional resume is going away, an individual's online presence is increasingly important. Last year, I focused a portion of my SAT/ACT Review course on #futureready lessons. In one lesson, I asked students to Google themselves after watching the TED Talk from Juan Enriquez, "Your Digital Life, Permanent as a Tattoo." A handful of students proudly proclaimed--look, there's nothing on me! Which, in my opinion, might soon be as bad if not worse than a negative online presence.

Our students use social media--see the ASCD infographic at the bottom of this post for some statistics--and need to learn how to have a productive online presence. Larkin writes, "students will be judged on their ability to use these tools proficiently enough to leave a mark that will allow others to find them, see who they are and determine what they are capable of doing." While I agree with this assertion, whose job is it to teach this?

Clearly, students need to learn how to use social media responsibly and develop a positive online presence. I believe that all teachers should be teaching digital citizenship as technology and web 2.0 is integrated into more and more instruction. If students' (and our) digital footprints become our resume, how can we better prepare them in our classrooms for this challenge. While I have a few ideas, for now I'm pondering and questioning. Feel free to chime in with your ideas in the comments.

Challenge: Google yourself and see what you find. What kind of digital footprint have you left? What kind of impact does it have? 

Larkin continues, "It is our job as educators to ensure that when potential suitors start looking for background information online about our students, they find impressive creations." This might be my favorite quote from the article; he pushes for effective online portfolios and students creating meaningful content. I'm a huge proponent of these ideas and focused a lot of my school year on promoting student creation. In fact, I blogged about it first in April with "Students Must Create!" and again in June with a guest post for the site FreeTech4Teachers, titled "Transforming Learning Through Student Content Creation." Check out those posts to see my experience and perspective on these ideas.

I constantly tell my students that I want them to leave my class with more than essays they will probably forget about and books they may not have really read. Instead, they should be studying content and applying skills in ways that are meaningful to them. They should be creating things that can leave the classroom with them and help them prepare for their futures. To this end, I plan to utilize portfolios next year to document student growth and progress. Not only will my students create, but they will have a record of that creation, along with the process and reflection throughout the year.

I want to start off my school year by making Twitter, Blogging, and Google Communities a regular and essential part of our classroom and to leverage the power of social media in my teaching. But more than that, I need to rethink how to use these tools to teach responsibility, digital citizenship, and to help students develop positive online resumes, portfolios, and footprints. As ready as I am to use these tools, I don't want to forget that using technology or social media well, and using it well for learning and futures are very different things. Thanks entrsekt, for making me think critically about the role social media has and could have to move my classroom forward.

This infographic from ASCD is from 2011 but the trends are clear. Students use social media and want it to be a part of their learning. I hope schools are finding more ways to overcome the cautions listed at the bottom.  

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  1. I liked the information especially what was provided in pictures. It is not a picture but information is very interesting and one may find out loads of new facts about social media in education. Enjoy and get enlightened!