Question: If you were to do a Google search on your own name, what would appear on the results page?
I ask this for a reason, not simply because I want people to satisfy their inner narcissists. Through the rapid increase in social media, people’s lives have become more and more public. As a result of this, it has become increasingly common over the past decade for potential employers to “google” the names of applicants to their organisation. Decisions can be made about that applicant and their suitability for the company based on what the search engine digs up about them.
Maybe. But maybe it also presents an opportunity for individuals to take control of their online reputations in a powerful way. As educators, we spend so much time teaching students about their own digital footprints and online reputations, but is everybody also walking the talk?
Our digital profiles can paint a picture of us as individuals and as professionals in one of three ways:
1. Over-sharers of personal information who should review the privacy settings of our personal (insert name of relevant social networking site here) page.
2. Technology-savvy professionals who use social media, blogging and other tools effectively to network, collaborate, share ideas, and create.
3. Or…non-existent (at least according to cyberspace).
Personally, in a professional world so driven by local and global connections, I know which I would prefer….
Today I presented two short workshops to staff at our school about the place of blogging in education. I started by explaining how I began my ed-tech journey, which has been discussed in a previous post on this blog, and then launched into the question: WHY BLOG?
In researching this presentation, I came across many reasons that people blog professionally and academically:
- facilitate reflection on learning (for students and teachers)
- record professional development
- promote collaboration
-connect with others locally and globally
- writing practice for students
- share ideas and resources
- authentic audience
- share class news
- a digital display of learning
I have posted the link to the Prezi for my whole presentation below, but there are a couple of points I wanted to focus on in particular here.
The Australian Curriculum is now upon us and has been for some time for English, Maths, History and Science. In my opinion, it seems to call for greater metacognition and reflection on learning than we have seen formalised in curriculum documents prior to now. It also recognises through the General Capabilities and the Cross-curricular Priorities the increasingly connected world our students (and our teachers!) exist in. The public but moderated realm of the educational blog means that students can connect with an authentic audience, engage in discussion and productive critique, share ideas and connect with others locally and globally – all the while continually learning, unlearning and relearning in an authentic manner as the AC proposes they need to be able to do. Of course, the achievement standards will be met in different ways in different subject areas, so it is open for collaboration and negotiation between teachers and students to set the parameters and expectations. These blogs are also the beginning of a personal profile that students can present to future employers as evidence of a vast range of skills needed for the workforce of today and the future.
In regards to educators, blogging is a fantastic way to engage with and reflect on professional learning, connecting with others from outside of one’s usual group of colleagues. These reflections and new knowledge can then be shared through professional networks on social media such as Twitter, Facebook and Linked In. Also, with the AITSL National Professional Standards for Teachers now in many educators’ minds, it is a great time to recognise where educational blogging helps teachers to meet these standards. Not only is a blog a great record of professional learning required for re-registration, but it specifically ticks the boxes a number of the standards. Take the highly accomplished teacher standards for example. A professional blog goes a long way to achieving the requirements for the following:
2.6 Information and Communication Technology (ICT) - Model high-level teaching knowledge and skills and work with colleagues to use current ICT to improve their teaching practice and make content relevant and meaningful.
4.5 Use ICT safely, responsibly and ethically - Model and support colleagues to develop strategies to promote the safe, responsible and ethical use of ICT in learning and teaching.
6.2 Engage in professional learning and improve practice - Plan for professional learning by accessing and critiquing relevant research, engage in high quality targeted opportunities to improve practice and offer quality placements for pre-service teachers where applicable.
6.3 Engage with colleagues and improve practice - Initiate and engage in professional discussion with colleagues in a range of forums to evaluate practice directed at improving professional knowledge and practice, and the educational outcomes of students.
So, I want to finish with the question: the next time someone “Googles” your name, what will they find? And what do you want them to see? Over-shares of your private life, the internet’s equivalent of white noise, or a connected professional who engages in life-long learning and development with colleagues from across the country and world?