Building a Positive Online Presence

Building a Positive Online Presence

Social media and technology icons floating on a blue background

Social media and technology icons floating on a blue background

Pixabaytechicons.jpg"Online-internet-icon-symbols" by geralt from at  -- Social media and technology icons floating on a blue background

Background & Overview

This resource is designed to help high school students build a positive online presence. For students, having a professional online presence can help them in the future with both college admissions and job applications. According to Hannah Morgan at US News & World Report, 52% of employers research a candidate online, and about one-third of them make a decision to hire based on the positive content they find (2015).  That number will grow.  

Establishing a professional online presence will expand student networks of individuals in their fields of interest, as well as expose them to new and diverse ideas. The AASL Standards Framework for Learners encourages students to interact with a range of learners and participate in learning communities in the shared foundations of Include and Collaborate.  In this resource, students will explore ways to use social media in professionally responsible ways, create an online portfolio, and review the legal and privacy issues surrounding an online presence.

Teaching Ideas

Ask students to explore one or both articles to find reasons why having an online presence can help their futures.

Encourage students to share stories of things they have heard (good or bad) about people getting into college or getting a job based on something found online.

Social Media

Most teens are already using social media accounts like Instagram and Snapchat. While teens may have had lessons on the consequences of negative behavior on social media, they may not have been exposed to the positive power that social media applications can generate. The following activities are designed to get students thinking about how they can use social media sites now to boost their future selves.

Teaching Ideas

Ask students to list the social media applications they currently use.  For each platform, have students brainstorm different ways the platform can be used to showcase positive information about the student. The following articles can assist students with this activity:

Assign students to find and follow someone in a field of their interest (on their preferred social media platform).  What kinds of things does that person post or share?

If your school has a social media site, encourage students to craft posts about projects and assignments that showcase their success and tag the school site.

As a way to model professional looking posts, have students make posters with “posts” for various social media applications and hang them up around the school.

Online Portfolio

Designing an online portfolio can be a great way for students to showcase their best work. Portfolios can keep a running record of a student's progress through school and can even be continued after graduation.

A difficult area may be determining the platform for hosting the online portfolios. Explore the resources your district already subscribes to or allows. You may have access to Google Sites, Microsoft OneNote, or EverNote. You may want to have your students explore sites like Weebly, Wix, Edublogs, or another site. LinkedIn can be a powerful platform that students can use beyond high school and one that many colleges and employers use. The following articles explore various types of platforms:

Teaching Ideas

Provide students with examples of online student portfolios to examine. Students can record their likes, dislikes, examples of items to include, observations on the organization and set up, platform etc.

In small groups, have students generate a list of items that can go into a student online portfolio and suggest organizational styles. Students can generate their own online searches to supplement their lists or use a resource like Online Portfolios, Penn State University.

Group students by career interests and identify things specific to a career field to include. Encourage students to visit O*Net Online, U.S. Department of Labor to find specific information regarding careers.

Explore LinkedIn as a viable portfolio option; give students time to design their own LinkedIn page. The article How To Use LinkedIn in High School, CollegeVine, provides useful information for students.

Share student portfolios at a collaborative website (like Padlet) and allow students to evaluate and provide feedback to one another. This should be an ongoing conversation as the school year progresses.  Establish a timeline for the editing/revising/feedback throughout the school year.

Legal & Privacy Issues

Creating an online portfolio can be exciting for students. However, it is crucial to review the legal and privacy issues surrounding a student’s online presence.

First, teachers, students, and parents/guardians should be knowledgeable about the current laws that protect student privacy. Both the Children’s Internet Protection Act and the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act can affect what websites students are able to access and use. Teachers should also be aware of their own school and district privacy policies and ensure that all sites comply with district guidelines.

Second, discuss with your students the importance of their own initiative at protecting their personal information. Students should never share their home addresses or phone numbers or agree to meet with someone they talk to online in person. If in doubt about a certain action, encourage students to discuss with their parents or guardians the right steps to take.

Finally, students need to be aware of current copyright laws. They should be familiar with Creative Commons licensing and only use images and other media from the web that are licensed for that use. Students should properly attribute all items. Students should also license their own material that they post to the web.

Teaching Ideas

Visit the lesson, Creative Commons: Taking Ownership of Creativity, published in the OER Commons.  Students will learn about copyright laws, explore Creative Commons licenses, learn how to license their own materials, and learn how to properly attribute items.

Hold a class discussion on the consequences of getting caught with a copyrighted work on your site? What could be the legal ramifications? What could that do to your reputation?

Encourage students to include their choice of an online portfolio site with their parents/guardians. Students and parents/guardians should read the privacy information of the site together and discuss privacy and safety concerns.  Teachers may even require students to come up with a joint contract between student and parent/guardian to ensure the privacy and safety of the student and his/her information.  The contract should discuss the type of information allowed to be uploaded/shared.

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