Monday, May 6, 2013

Using LinkedIn in the Classroom

We tell our students that life is one large resume.  That every action they perform has consequences.  We tell them that many of their decisions in high school will affect the rest of their lives.  We try to explain to them the notion of an opportunity cost.  That when you choose to do one action you are also making the simultaneous choice to not do another.  We explain this is the cost of that choice.  Even with all this explaining, rarely do our students internalize this because they have trouble really seeing it.  They have trouble visualize the long term effects.  They have trouble valuing themselves and their time in as such high regard as they should. They value it enough to look at a clock during a boring class, but not enough to choose to invest some of their time in activities that they cannot see immediate reward.  In truth, they do not really value themselves enough or their potential.

How do we get students to see their actions have consequences without creating a system that discourages creativity and encourages students to do things for those immediate rewards instead of an intrinsic motivation?  The resume might be a good starting place.  On the surface, it sounds like a badge all over again.  It sounds like a reward.  I get that.  I hear it.  I'm skeptical about it too, but if you scratch that surface, you begin to think about what a resume really is.  It is your presentation or sales pitch of yourself to others.  It is a physical demonstration of what you have done, organized, and marketed towards what you want to do.  It simply records what you have accomplished.  It isn't something cute.  It is also something you can manipulate, change, and revise.  I like that process.  That process is messy, constructive, and akin to life.  That process is where learning takes place and isn't that the fundamental goal of assessment?- feedback and further growth?

Ok, so now you are buy in to the resume idea, but you are wondering how LinkedIn will help?  LinkedIn is a social network for business connections.  This social network has over 200 million participants. Many are from Fortune 500 companies, major players in virtually all fields and industries.  For students looking for summer internships, recommendations for coursework or experience, and connections with major players in their interested areas of expertise, LinkedIn can be ideal.  Of course parents will need to monitor the students "connections," but the possibilities for professional mentorship are endless.  Students get to see how their resumes will connect with their possibilities in the real world.  LinkedIn also enables the user to control the privacy features restricting access to the general public is a relatively easy step.  Alumni of a high school can also use the group feature on LinkedIn as a way of connecting both professionally and visa via volunteering for the school.  I'd like to experiment with this in class.  I hope to get back to you more about it in the weeks to come.