The Creeper Assignment

Today was the first day of a new semester for me in Burlington. I gave my new students homework. On the first day of class?! How could I do such a thing? The answer is simple. It’s typically an assignment that 100% of my students complete (rare these days) and I think it’s because they find it quite intriguing. The assignment: they have to Google search me and come into class tomorrow prepared to discuss the results of their search.

AKA: the creeper assignment.

When I phrase the assignment in this way, it resonates with my students.  Most of them giggle when I say it. They completely understand what I mean by “creep” and if we’re being honest, it resonates with us as adults too. Remember when Facebook first came out? The first thing you did was try to find your old high school sweetheart, your best friend from elementary school who moved away (I actually was able to reconnect with Chrissy!), and the kids you met at summer camp when you were 10.

Social media has allowed us to connect and communicate with people in a way most of us never thought possible. It is a part of every industry and is even being used in the hiring process. My mission as the instructor of the Web 2.0/Digital Literacy course at Burlington High School is to help my students leverage social media and use it to help them achieve their goals. It’s also important they learn as early as possible (I have quite a few freshmen for the first time in years which is exciting) to use social media in a safe, positive, and ethical way. I’m dedicated to helping my students understand that they have full control over what results appear during a Google (creeper) search.

When my students come to class tomorrow, we will be able to discuss the types of information they found out about me as they “creeped.” This initial discussion eventually leads to deeper conversations about the major concepts we will cover throughout the course of the semester including digital footprints & e-reputation, online communication (public and professional versus private and personal), safety and privacy, self-identity, and creative credit and copyright. Through “creeping” me on the web, my students will discover my digital footprint and they will see first-hand how I use social media to connect and communicate with others. It’s a valuable assignment. It lays the foundation for students to start thinking critically about their own online presence.

I’m proud to serve as a digital role model to my students. I’m grateful for the many members of my PLN (thank you in advance #digcit team!) whom I also refer to throughout the semester as people my students should strive to emulate in terms of their online behavior. You can bet that I will be reaching out to you over the course of the semester and will invite you to chat with my students directly, either through Twitter or a Google Hangout. The more digital role models my students have to look up to, the more they themselves will grow into positive and productive members of our global digital society!

Tomorrow night’s homework: Students must Google search themselves!  If they don’t do it…someone else will!

Image Credit: Grace Kutney

Image Credit: Grace Kutney

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