Times have changed. Our graduating seniors can no longer rely on a one page resume to get their first job out of college. Our students need a strong digital reputation of which they can be proud and share with others. Some of our students may not want or be fit for the traditional career path, which is even more of a reason for them to leverage the digital tools that are available to them. The process of teaching our students about digital reputation, however, does not begin in college. It can start as early as middle or high school. Here are six ideas for teaching digital reputation across multiple levels in education.
1. If Lincoln Had a Twitter Account (middle school): When teaching your students about famous figures, take the opportunity to infuse a lesson about digital reputation. Explain Twitter to your students, and how it can be used as a platform to share your message with a global audience. Then have each student pick a historical figure, and ask them to come up with 10 tweets this person might have tweeted if Twitter existed back then. This is also a great exercise in creative writing!
Digital Reputation Lesson: What you tweet says a lot about who you are, use it as a positive platform to share your message.
2. Use Instagram to Break Negative Stereotypes (high school): There are several stereotypes about the different peer groups in high school. One example might be the 'dumb jock' stereotype about student athletes. What if a select group of student athletes got social media training and shared access to an Instagram account. They could document the real life of a student athlete with behind the scenes pictures and videos. This could show students at practice, their meals illustrating the importance of eating a healthy diet, studying on the bus on the way to an away match, and more. Swap out student athletes for any group of students and you could do some serious damage to those nasty stereotypes.
Digital Reputation Lesson: Your pictures tell a story to your followers. Be thoughtful about what you want for your story, and leverage these tools for social good.
3. The Vine Chemist (middle/high school): Doing something cool in Chemistry next semester? Capture it on Vine. As an in-class assignment have your students create a six second 'how-to' video on Vine showing how to create a chemical reaction. The time crunch will definitely force them to get creative. It will also engage them in a new and exciting way.
Digital Reputation Lesson: If you have a special talent or skill, digital tools make it very easy to share that skill with the world.
4. There is Something To Do on Campus (college): We have all heard the college student call home to complain that there is nothing to do on campus. The truth is that there is actually tons to do on campus! One of my favorite social media campaigns is #dontsithome. The campaign was started by Amanda Morrison who is documenting all of her adventures around the New York and the Hoboken area on a variety of social media platforms. Her mission is to show people all the great things to do around town so they get out and enjoy life. This model could easily work in a college setting to help promote all of the great things going on around campus. The trick will be to select the right students and train them on how to use social media to tell the stories of their adventures. Bonus, your admissions office might get some great content from it!
Digital Reputation Lesson: Everyone can be a digital storyteller if they have a purpose and the right training on the appropriate digital tools.
5. YouTube Star Assembly (middle/high school): Have you seen the new ads for YouTube? The ads share snippets of videos from young people who have used YouTube to build a base, share their message, and make a name for themselves. I'm not talking about the "Charlie bit my finger" YouTube stars. I am talking about the young people giving cooking lessons or makeup tutorials on a channel that garners thousands of views a day. That is a very empowering message for young people. Bring in one of these YouTube stars for a school assembly to talk about what it takes to build a following, develop good creative content and use YouTube as a positive platform to share your message with the world.
Digital Reputation Lesson: Success in the digital age takes hard work and determination. The tools level the playing field to some degree, but you still have to hustle if you want to build a name for yourself.
6. Tweet It Up With The Best of Them (college): Thousands of Twitter chats happen each week. There is a hashtag for just about any discipline, and professionals are jumping on and connecting with other professionals across the world about topics related to their discipline. If you are teaching a senior seminar in a certain major, teach your students how to participate in these Twitter chats. Then create an assignment where they jump in and join one. Perhaps they blog about their experience or write a brief reflection. This will teach them a great habit to get into if they want to be well-connected in their field.
Digital Reputation Lesson: Networking can be amplified when we use digital tools. Forget the small talk at events and conferences. A Twitter chat gives you a chance to talk about real issues and topics with a much bigger group of people!
When we approach digital reputation in an empowering way it allows us to reframe the conversation. Instead of nagging students about not posting party pictures on Facebook, we can empower them to build a digital reputation that aligns with the legacy they hope to achieve. If we build the conversation in that way from the beginning then they will choose to be cautious about what they share because they will already understand the big picture. If you have any initiatives that you would add to the list please share them in the comments.