In today’s fragile job market and tumultuous economy it’s important for educators to do whatever we can to make sure we are equipping our students with the tools to set them up for success. More and more we’re seeing that employers are looking to social media to identify potential hires – which means that it’s our responsibility to lay the groundwork for a positive professional online presence for our students.

So how do we go about preparing our students to achieve success today?

Case Study: The University of Central Lancashire

A recent article in The Guardian highlights The University of Central Lancashire for taking a creative approach to teaching its student body how to create a professional  social media presence. They’ve placed an institutional emphasis on their being bottom line responsible for equipping their students “with the qualifications and skills to thrive in the digital world,” and in doing so – they’ve begun integrating professional usage and presentation of social media into their lesson plans.

One example they touted was a social media initiative they set up with architecture students and professionals working in the field that allowed students to share sketches and get feedback over Twitter. The students found this to be a fruitful exercise and it was one that could potentially have a positive professional outcome.

The underlying theme of University of Central Lancashire’s whole program is that students need to be taught how to shape a professional online presence. Digital natives are inherently comfortable presenting parts of themselves online – but that doesn’t mean they are doing it right.

Using a social learning model, where students are able to provide feedback to one another on their social media output and can be actively engaged in developing their own personas, could be the best bet for helping with employability. Today’s generation of active learners are always seeking out experiences that will engage them, which is why social networking sites are a natural fit for them socially and educationally – it’s just up to us to make sure they know how to leverage those skills professionally too.

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