Create your online profile

I had the honor Monday (and I do see it as an honor) to give a 40 minute presentations to the whole high school student body at my school (350+) plus teachers. It is by far the largest audience I’ve ever giving a presentation in front of and not an easy audience to start with. On top of that today marked the first day of spirit week so all 350+ students were wearing their PJs!

I titled my presentation “Creating Your Online Profile: Who do you want to be?” The presentation was really about online safety and understanding social-networks. But you can’t call a presentation geared towards high schools ‘online safety’, so I decided to take a positive approach. High school kids have enough people telling them what not to do…they don’t need some geeky guy in blue jeans doing the same. So I wrapped the Internet safety message around a positive message about creating an online profile that works for you.

I started off having the students define what makes a social-network social. I had them holler out what makes a social-network. Great responses: “Allows you to connect to people”, “Allows you to share pictures”, “Allows you to communicate”. From there I asked how many of them had a facebook profile. It was easily 98% of the student body. They all laughed looking around at each other with smirks on their face like “Yeah, that’s right…we’re the social-network generation!” Next I had the teachers stand up if they had a facebook profile. Those smirks turned to shock as about half the high school staff stood up. That social-network belongs to everyone!

From there we talked about information flow and how in a connected web you can not control information. Links and connections are not always visible and once the information is out there you can not get it back.

The best feedback from the students came from the use of this site:

It takes the links from any website and turns them in to a visualization of how information flows from a site.

We talked about creating an online profile that represents who you are, or who you want to be. We discussed the fact that our society at this moment in time really doesn’t know where to draw the line when it comes to what is private and what is public, what should be held against you in a job interview and what shouldn’t. We talked about these four articles:


We then talked about how to create an online profile that will help you in life and maybe even get accepted to college.

The presentation seemed to go over well with a couple of high schoolers coming up to me afterwards and saying “Man, you’re intense!” What can I say, I get excited when I talk about this stuff…I just wish I got to more often. 🙂

After the presentation I went around with the counselors and talked with students in their classes. I helped to answer questions on a more personal level and had some great conversations with students around their concerns. One students went back to class, grabbed a laptop and did a search for his name and was shocked that people had written about him without him knowing it.

It’s a connected world, and even though they live it, I’m not really sure they get it.

Another student in one of the sessions said “We know all this stuff is there, we just pretend it isn’t.” and don’t we all pretend not to see it sometimes.

My favorite quote from today is when a student was talking with the classroom teacher and referred to facebook as “our space”. An interesting and accurate description of how the students view these social-network sites. They were their first, they have helped to make them what they are today, and they update and create content there more than any of us do. It is there space, but the issue is everyone is allowed in their space and they can’t control that!

I would share my PowerPoint slides but there really isn’t anything to share. Lately I’ve been taking the approach of using pictures to tell my story as I talk. I also played two YouTube videos which got good responses as well. You have to talk to the audience in their language and students today understand pictures and videos.


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