When to start teaching self branding

I was co-teaching earlier this week in a 7th grade environments class. The students were signing up for the wiki they were going to be using to do a project.

One boy in the class created his username as: tommmmmmmmmmmmmmyyyyyyyyy!!!!

Why?

When do we start teaching students about self branding?

I understand that part of this is a maturity issue, but when is the right time/age to start teaching students about self branding?

You might be branding yourself without even knowing it. Just by using the same username on different websites you can start a brand. For example, I always try to use the username jutecht.

Anywhere you go on the web I’m known as jutecht. Twitter, delicious, Diigo, etc, etc, etc. That is my brand. That is who I have become on the Internet and it’s the brand that is Jeff Utecht.

It doesn’t have to be your name. Langwitches is a perfect example. Or how about Cool Cat Teacher. Both of these two self brands do not include the person’s name, but who that person is on the Internet. This would be a safe way to help student start their online name or online brand.

Some digital savvy parents start branding their children early on. Dennis Harter and Chad Bates, my two colleagues, both set up gmail accounts for their kids when they were born. They have already started the brand that will be their kids when they are older (how will this change our schools when students star showing up with their own brands?).

There is power in branding your classroom and getting students use to branding their thinking. I’m sure most of us would argue you start teaching this as soon as students start creating accounts online, and that this is just one piece of a larger picture that is Internet Safety, Digital Literacy, etc.

http://remoteaccess.typepad.com/ideahivelogo.jpgOne way to get to this…..to help students understand the importance of it, is to give them something to believe in, something to belong to. That’s what I love about Clarence Fisher’s classroom. Clarence created a brand for his classroom. A brand that lets the students know they belong to something bigger than themselves.  Within that the students become part of the classroom brand and take on a personal brand allows them to belong to something.

Schools can also create the brand for the students. Taking the example from yesterday’s post on e-portfolios the school has created the brand for Daniel. Daniel is known on the Internet as daniel03pd2014. This is the naming convention that the school came up with. Staff at the school knows exactly who this kid is based on that username. Daniel still has ownership (which is important!) as they used his first name. The rest of the information is used by the school to know who exactly this Daniel is.

I think these are conversations we need to start having in our classrooms/schools. They go with the other conversations of what to write, how to write, and who do you want to be on the web. Teaching students to use the web for their benefit early on allows them to brand their thinking, their sites, themselves. How great will it be when a student can go to apply for a job or for university and can be proud of the fact that they are searchable…in fact they hope their employer or university search them on the web and finds great information that talks about who they are as a person and a learner.