May 11, 2017

How Do We Teach Students Digital 21st Century Skills?

student-digital-life.jpgStudents and Their Teachers Need To Learn These 21st Century Skills: Digital Literacy, Proactive Digital Footprint Presence and Social Networking.

Today's k-12 students are the first generation born in the 21st century. Their world will look very different from the one we once knew. They are not only digital natives, but the world around them is conducting the entirety of its affairs through its fingertips: online.

Virtually all colleges and universities now have a presence on social media where they communicate with prospective students (and where they are free to look at their candidates' profiles). Nearly 40% of admissions officers acknowledge that they look at prospective students' social media pages in order to learn more about them before acceptance.

When it comes to finding jobs, at least 93% of recruiters and employers examine candidate hires online before making any hiring decisions.

Therefore, among all the essential 21st century life skills that students need to be coached on - such as critical thinking and problem-solving, communication and emotional intelligence - proactive digital footprint presence and online social networking rank very high.

Schools need to understand that digital life skills and social media education are an essential part of building college and career readiness. When students learn the importance of presenting themselves proactively online and how to do it properly, issues such as compromised cyber safety and cyberbullying reduce on their own. Students understand that a positive digital footprint is permanent and essential for their future.

Unfortunately, most of the digital education currently offered to students is too basic: it addresses the importance of being polite online and focuses mostly on digital citizenship.

But for students to be fully prepared for their future college and career lives, they need to have social media coaching beyond this level.

In order to help students achieve digital literacy and the importance of building a properly positive, proactive digital footprint and how to network online, teachers need to learn about the following:

 The current teen social media landscape, and popular teen social media apps

Essential rules of positive and proactive social media use

How colleges and employers use social media to recruit and vet students

The importance of creating a public, authentic, and discoverable digital footprint

Establishing a unique digital identity in Google

Students' digital portfolio building in the classroom

How to use LinkedIn as a student

How to role-model proper Twitter use in the classroom

How to help students create dual purpose social media content

Identifying social media as an essential 21st century skill

 Once the teachers have a full understanding of these topics, they are ready to work with their students on:

• Understanding the rules of social media

• Learning how colleges and employers use social media and Google to assess and vet candidates

• Establishing a unique digital identity within Google

• Creating a compelling and authentic skill-based digital portfolio

• Optimizing social network reach to enhance visibility and discovery

• Discovering the importance of keywords and personal URLs

• Developing a virtual narrative that highlights accomplishments, service and activities

• Leveraging LinkedIn's vast database for researching colleges and companies

• Using Twitter to network with influencers, like-minded peers, and decision-makers 

• Appreciating the importance of Facebook and Instagram for social media recruitment 

• Engaging with colleges and employers via social media to stand out

• Gaining a substantial advantage in searching for internships and employment via social media

These essential 21st century skills will serve students beyond college and throughout their professional life.  The internet of the future will present new opportunities. The job market is guaranteed to change. Technology will continue to connect people and help us build new forms of education and economic life lines. As the world changes around us, may we help students evolve with it.

Read More: Social media training required: Are schools listening?

Learn more about our social media training

Written by Naomi Ben-Shahar

Naomi Ben-Shahar is a Creative Director, Image Editor, Curator and Mother who worked in major cultural institutions, media and publishing companies in NY.

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