Friday, April 22, 2011

Are You Google-Ready?

A few days ago I had a passing conversation with one of our seniors about a teaching candidate who had visited our school. 

“She went to Wellesley, “ the student said, obviously impressed. She had recently been accepted at Mt. Holyoke, so she knew this was a big deal.

“How do you know that?” I asked.

“I googled her and found her Linked-in page,” she said.

I was briefly stunned by this encounter.  In the immediate moment, I felt pride.  Not only did my student care enough about the candidates we interviewed and might ultimately hire for our school that she put forth the effort to check their digital references, so to speak., but she also knew how to do this – googling someone you want to learn more about had become second nature to her.  I knew my students were aware of the impact of being googled, of having a positive digital footprint,  from their work on their own culminating senor projects, but now they were seamlessly transferring this knowledge to their own concerns.

            The implications here are enormous. 

            Not too many years ago, I remember searching for information online (I’m not sure we called it googling then) about candidates for the position of headmaster/headmistress at the school where I then taught.  I shared the information I found from a simple search with my colleagues via email and was promptly told by a supervisor to stop disseminating such information via the school email network.  The message was that it was okay for individuals to google candidates privately on their own, but spreading the word was not acceptable or encouraged. 

            A shift has occurred since then.  Now we expect to google others to find out their digital pedigrees.  We might be remiss if we do not do so.  We hope to find a strong digital presence that can give us more information about who we might work with, learn from, interact with personally. We are aware, as well, that we might be googled by future employers, or the schools we might attend might check out our Facebook pages.

            If we don’t find anything, what does that tell us?  If others don’t discover our online personae, is that necessarily a good thing? Have the rules changed enough that we can openly share our credentials and work in a transparent way, and not have to worry about hiding one thing or another from the people we might ultimately collaborate with?

            Are you ready, then, to be googled by your students?