Sunday, November 28, 2010

Online reputation management for kids

I'm beginning to understand that, while our kids respond well to Internet-based lessons, they don't necessarily understand how the Net works.

They remind me of myself and cars: I get in and drive. When that thing breaks down, I'm whipping out my Triple A card faster than a gunslinger pulls his six shooter. I take cars for granted to a degree, without stopping to think about things such as structure and mechanics.

My class website has been projected every day, all year so far, in all of my classes. As the site is projected onto the large Smartboard, a student will sometimes ask, "What's our class website?" He hasn't taken the time (.5 seconds) to glance up at the URL posted atop the web page.

When I tell the students how I can make websites appear high up in Google search rankings, they have no idea how I am pulling off such a feat. Similarly, they've given little thought to their own "brand" names, and how they appear in search rankings.

I'm taking this issue head-on in SAT Prep. We are going to take control of our online reputations, by building simple websites using Blogger (the same platform this blog is built with).

As part of a career / college success unit, students will build real, live blogs - for the purposes of marketing themselves, their work, and for showcasing their passions. In the process, they'll be manipulating search engine rankings, so their carefully planned website appears in a Google search return for their name well ahead of that not-so-flattering Facebook page.

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