The digital dossiers are gone because I copied them to a flash drive and then deleted them from the school website. I made sure to tell my students I did it, to model decision-making on the net. Teens seem to be sure that we are all watching them 24/7, so they got it. I doubt anyone at school was dying to see the digital CVs, except me. In fact, some of my colleagues thought it was just another one of my "techie" things.
But it wasn't "just" techie. It was one of the most important projects I did with my seniors this year. They are well read and had already written almost double the amount the school requires them to write each year (and none of them realized it). This was one last way for me to get them ready for the challenge of college. One last time to talk about WHO ARE YOU? This project will return for next year's seniors as well, because I learned so much! I will spend some time this summer ruminating over these facts and how they will influence my teaching next year:
1. Many of my students are entirely comfortable shopping online with credit cards, but not able to build an excel worksheet. ARGH!
2. The self-identified artists had done the most to create themselves online: deviantart.com, myspace, tumblr, youtube, etc.And those sites were wonderful, creative, intelligent.
3. Almost none of them is supervised, not even in a "how many hours have you been playing Halo 3?" or "What did you buy?" kind of way. (I am guessing many have their own credit cards)
4. The ones that did not have facebook accounts were too busy for facebook--many other things taking up their time, like volunteering, a job, close family (usually evidenced by their photo files).
5. They all visit youtube, but few had accounts. No one manages their viewing list on youtube. Few other video sources were noted, except the ones that I introduced like vimeo.
6. They visit many media sites but do not comment or register. (this makes their online lives easier for sure, but just by accident).
7. Some (three) protested "life on the net," and really had limited presence there. I can respect that, but advised that they keep track of what other people and organizations post about them.
8. The athletes were documented over and over, and could not believe how many places the same pics and stories were posted--and how far back they went (middle school, for some of them). That certainly led to a class discussion of whether newspapers were really dead or not.
9. The scholars were not documented anywhere near as often as the athletes, and most of them did not care. Scholar athletes noted the imbalance as well.
10. My students' perception of their online lives was baffling. Very few even noted our wiki or their blog postings on their dossiers! No collegeboard.com mentions. No COMMON APP, which I know 80% of them used as part of the college application process.
11. They did not note the brand new email addresses that most of them had received from their colleges. Teens as a rule do not use email unless it is with a teacher. We discussed how this would have to change, and soon.
12. Since I teach at a private school (albeit parochial), all have phones and many have smartphones. No one noted that that their phone apps constituted internet connections. This part seemed to upset them. Still not sure why. They did not seem to understand how texting worked either.
13. No one counted iTunes or another music source as an internet connection unless it was illegal. This is important to all of them, but they did not note it.
The last section of the assignment had them imagine what results would appear on a Google search of their name in 5-10 years. I read ALL of these and was delighted to see their dreams and their creativity. Some designed an updated Google page, and others noted their accomplishments. Most of them will be in the news (for good or bad), if their plans come to fruition. The last thing we discussed was how the internet would play a role in making their dreams come true. It was a great end to the year.