A teacher recently shared with me that she was excited to have her secondary art students use Instagram and she wanted to ensure they would be safe online. To do that she said she wouldn’t allow them to use their real names and they wouldn’t be allowed to post photos of themselves or their friends. They also wouldn’t be allowed to mention their school name or have any photos of their school.
In other words, the students were being invited to use social media, as long as they weren’t social.
By the time they reach middle school, students need connected educators who understand, among other things, the power and importance of being “well-Googled.” They can be represented with their full name and real photo, using a public account. This way they share quality ideas, information, work and more…as themselves.
Here are 10 Practices for Connected Students (Secondary):
- Use real names
When posting online students should be proud of their words. The positive use of social media is what makes it so powerful. When students are using their real names and standing behind their words, they learn an important skill and become more knowledgeable about their own identity.
- Use real headshots
Connected students use a current, recognizable photo. The photo should not be one with friends. It should not be a cartoon character. It should be a professional looking photo of the person who owns the profile. The image a student presents should be their honest and true selves. Doing so establishes trust between the student and those in her network.
- Use a real bio
Connected students create bios that reflect the best of who they are today. In their bio they are clear about the content they will share. They also look at bios of others they admire, searching for ideas to improve their own bio.
- Post with intention
When students make online contributions of their work they should make an intentional effort to present the image they want the world to see. They should look at their posts through the eyes of their teachers, present or future employers, and potential partners. Each of these audiences and others are looking at what they share. If students take the responsibility seriously, it can result in exciting college, career, and social opportunities.
- Understand private posts may become public
Social media is meant to be “social.” Just like the face-to-face world, social news travels fast. Anyone can take a screenshot and share it with the world. Using privacy settings is an option, but it can provide a false sense of security that certain others won’t see what you have posted. Such beliefs have resulted in lost scholarships, memberships, and jobs. Set privacy settings for the audience you intend to reach, and understand that, for better off for worse, what you post can be shared with the world.
- Celebrate work and interests more publicly
Connected students understand the power of public settings. This is what can connect them with a global audience. Doing this well is important if a student has intentions of running for office (inside or outside of school), running a business, or changing how things are run where they live, work, or play.
- Be goofy on less social platforms
Connected students still like to have their fun, and be their silly selves online. They realize, though, that it is not a good idea to do that in a way that is easily searchable. Especially when you want to create a strong digital image. For social media that is more personal, you can use privacy settings so what you write doesn’t appear in public searches. You can also use communication methods for interactions that are more personal and less searchable in nature such as Facebook messaging, Yik Yak, Whats App, or Snapchat – but remember, anyone you know can still take a screenshot and share with the world.
- Be interesting
Connected students don’t post whatever pops into their head. They post content that is interesting and of value to others. Doing this not only helps students become better digital citizens, it also helps them become successful communicators.
- Use images effectively
Connected students understand that images increase engagement. If you have something to share, find the picture that supports your words.
- Use hashtags well
Connected students know that silly and unnecessary use of hashtags can make a them look plain stupid. While, there are certainly times that hashtags are used in unconventional to make a point or get a chuckle, they should be used with intention. Intentional use of hashtags can contribute to the development of a powerful learning network. Connected students know and create the hashtags that are used to discuss the issues and topics that are important to them.
What do you think? Are you supporting your students in being connected? Could you see using some of these guidelines with your students? Which guidelines do you think will be, or have you experienced as being, successful? Are there challenges or concerns that are getting in the way of you helping your students become connected? If so, what are they?