If you want to work with me, I am going to stalk you on Facebook. Yep, I said it.
Now let me also say that I am against shady business like asking for candidates’ Facebook passwords. But your online (and offline) reputation affects my organization and you better believe I’m going to check you out. On the positive side, creeping on your profile helps me get a more authentic picture of who you are. With a few clicks, I can see what movies and music you like, how you spend your time, and if you are a generally positive person.
As you know, students are very protective of their online spaces, and digital education can be a tricky thing to pull off. In my experience, students have had strong reactions to constructive digital criticism. In response, my students have locked down their accounts, tweeted negative reactions, and even blocked our office accounts. I know you are checking on your students, too. So how do we get our point across in a non-threatening way?
My solution: take yourself out of the equation.
Since all of the students in my career development class have Facebook profiles and are friends with one another, it made the first part of the assignment very easy. (This will also work well for student organization meetings or during student staff training sessions.) In the computer lab, students were asked to log into their Facebook accounts and answer the following questions:
Next, students were asked to choose a partner and assess his/her profile by answering the same set of questions. I overheard great suggestions to delete pictures, wall posts, and private information. After a class discussion, some friendly picking, blushing, and laughter, I think the lesson was a success.
To take the lesson a step further, I asked students to go home and complete this “Google Yourself Assignment.” From an employer’s point of view, students combed through their search results, assessed their marketability, and schemed ways to make a more professional presence. Since the activity, more positive tweets, posts, and LinkedIn profiles have been emerging. By taking myself (the authority) out of the equation, students were able to assess their behavior in a safe, non-threatening environment.
How are you teaching students to be good digital citizens?