Category Archives: 3 things students should have before they leave high school

3 Things Education Graduates Should Have Before They Leave University

In 2015, I wrote this post entitled, “3 Things Students Should Have Before They Leave High School“.  Here were the things that were listed:

3 Things Students Should Have

I thought of this post as I was talking to a recent university graduate from the field of education.  As I asked a friend to look at her resume, he right away asked, “Where is her portfolio? Where is her Twitter handle?”. She had neither.

So as we look at post-secondary students graduating from different education programs, if we want these things I have listed (or at least somewhere in the ballpark), are our university programs asking the same things from their graduates?  Isn’t the best way to learn this process through doing it, not hearing about it?

If I was working in a university program, I would hope that these things would be implemented and integrated into programs. Instead of everything being given directly to the professor, would it not be beneficial to share this work with other educators (both new and experienced), while also building their own digital footprint?  One thing I know is that this should not be solely focused on in “educational technology” courses, otherwise only the students in the program would have the opportunity to create this, or solely connect this to learning that is done with only “technology” in mind.  It is something much bigger.

Yet some are concerned that not all educational organizations are looking for these things, so it could be a lot of time for little benefit.  I would adamantly disagree with this.  First of all, students taking time to actively reflect and share their learning is not only beneficial to themselves, but to others as well if it is open.  Secondly, in a world where most people are getting googled for the jobs, this would only strengthen (or at least create) a digital footprint.

Finally, if an employer is not looking for these things, make sure they find them.  At the top of my resume, I can easily place the statement “For full portfolio, check out georgecouros.ca“.  This allows the employer the opportunity to see my portfolio before I get an interview, not ONLY IF I get an interview.

I would love to be able to see a candidates thinking and growth over their time in university.  Would this not be more beneficial than looking solely at a transcript of grades and a diploma?  It might take a lot longer to peruse, but it would help the employer make better decisions on candidates. My belief is that the extra time is worth it.

So if I slightly revamp the above picture, to fit this idea, does this not still make sense?

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If we want our new educators into the profession to think different, they will need to experience something different.  The best way to teach this is to have learned it first.

Telling a Story Beyond Grades

“Grades do not tell the story of a child.”

Most educators, parents, and human beings would agree with this statement.  Yet how are we helping change this narrative, and encouraging and empowering students to tell their own story?

The beautiful thing about this time in the world is that it is becoming so much easier to make this happen, but it is also becoming more important.

In 2011, I read this post on Forbes titled, “5 Reasons Why Your Online Presence Will Replace Your Resume in 10 years“,  and here is a snippet from the article:

By claiming your web presence, you’re protected from other people, with the same name, claiming it before you. You also gain control over how you’re perceived online, and thus what employers find out about you when they conduct their search.

So here we are, five years later, and are we recognizing and embracing this opportunity for our students?

This just isn’t employers though either.  Post-secondary institutions are now paying more attention.  In 2013, this article, “They Loved Your G.P.A. Then They Saw Your Tweets“, was posted on the New York Times website.  But is the focus of the article and in what we share in school more about what not to do?

In an effort to help high school students avoid self-sabotage online, guidance counselors are tutoring them in scrubbing their digital identities. At Brookline High School in Massachusetts, juniors are taught to delete alcohol-related posts or photographs and to create socially acceptable email addresses…Likewise, high school students seem to be growing more shrewd, changing their searchable names on Facebook or untagging themselves in pictures to obscure their digital footprints during the college admission process.

As one college student told me, their advice from their professor was to “do nothing dumb online so they won’t lose a job.” I asked, “why don’t they encourage you to share awesome stuff so you can get one?”

Many schools are looking at ways that they can embrace different types of “portfolio” programs, yet many of them are hidden from anyone other than the school community and parents at home.  They do nothing in helping with developing a child’s digital footprint, and become in some ways a “digital dump”. This is why I am such a big advocate of using blogs as digital portfolios, knowing that they are not limited in mediums, but can prove to be useful after a child’s time in school, while helping to build a positive footprint, while also being easily transferable.

No employer is asking to see a student’s Edmodo account.  It may be useful for school (and I have seen teachers use this in classes for so many awesome things), but is it helping kids after?  This is an extremely important question.  Many of these sites are in some ways like using “training wheels” for a digital footprint, yet what opportunities are being provided long term?

We should never allow our children to be reduced to a letter or number, yet we need to ensure that we help them along the way. I think it is important that we understand some students would not want to post things online, and this is something that needs to be taken into account, but we should at least be guiding them and helping them understand the opportunities that exist.

(This image is from an old post below…hopefully it give some ideas of where to start.)

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