If you’re like most people, you’re pretty much going to play with it. Games, sure, but also texts, email, an occasional phone call and, of course, social media. If you’re a student, all of this stuff has been around for as long as you can remember, so it’s just part of everyday life. If you’re a parent or educator, your memory stretches a little further. You can recall when car phones looked like suitcases and when snail mail was just “mail.”
Our current level of interconnectivity has changed our society in a lot of ways. The Internet has changed the way we talk, write, research, and learn. Having your whole life at your fingertips (or thumbtips, if you’re on a smartphone) makes staying in touch and sharing your experiences easy. Sometimes that’s a great convenience. At others, it’s a little too easy to say or do something you regret later. At Cornerstone, we want to help students learn to use the power of the Internet for good, not evil!
Through our research, our workshops, and our own online presence, we want to help students learn how to manage their online reputations: an education rooted in facts, not fear. Too often, reputation management programs are based on scare tactics and snake-oil search engine optimization processes. Our methods are based on data collected in surveys of educators and admissions specialists. We’ve taken the feedback we received from these subject matter experts and used that research survey data to create quantitative, data-driven tools to help students learn about why and, more importantly, how to set up and manage their online reputations.
Our goal is to provide simple products and services that have a profound and lasting effect on how students view the Internet. A large part of this is helping students to be mindful of what is and is not an appropriate online presence, but our research also indicates that building a positive online reputation is equally important. In our workshops, we want students not only to learn and have fun, but also begin to build a skill set that will help them be responsible Internet citizens.
By Jennifer Schwartz and Erin Matthews