Crafting Your Blogger Profile
Lesson 2 of 8
Objective: Students will be able to develop their (first?) web-based biography in order to establish a web-based voice and persona.
Introduction and Context
[THIS IS THE 2nd PART OF 7 PARTS IN A SEQUENCE OF LESSONS FOR THE FIRST "MINI-UNIT" OF THIS SEMESTER.]
Before you begin this lesson it is important students have access to a short bit of personal writing about themselves. I often use the "About Me" assignment, a lesson from the first days of the course (and articulated in a pervious unit I have posted here) for this purpose. However, whatever you choose should be accessible as an e-copy before the lesson begins.
When students come to class, I have my mock-up blog bio posted on the screen as they enter. After the bell rings I read it aloud to them, and I ask them to comment on how it seems that I might be if one meet me in person. I lead a short discussion.
Generally, students answer it seems I might be interesting, but that I have had lots of "life experience" beyond theirs. (Such is the rub of using a teacher/adult example for the opening of this lesson.)
I articulate, though, how important one's "web persona" or "web presence" is, and I compare that to the old fashioned resume of their parent's generation. I share that in my reading about the need for a good web-bio./persona I've discovered that the web-bio. has, in fact, begun to replace the resume altogether. I also mention the new Google Authorship project, and we discuss the use of these kinds of technology across the web. I really want them to think of their blogs as about them -- that is as an actual expression of their lives.
Finally, I make reference to Playbill (the theater program publisher) and their actor bios. I point out that the bios at the back of a Playbill are something to aspire to, and I also share examples, using the document camera or from photocopies, of the student-editor bios. in The Best American Nonrequired Reading.
The Dave Eggers Nonrequired project makes excellent, indeed inspiring, use of selected high school, student editors, and these editor bios. are the best example of the form I have found. (Special note: the 2012 edition of Best American Nonrequired is available to preview at Google Books; look at page 392 for student bio. examples.)
These examples and this discussion gets them thinking ...
After the introduction, it is time for some assisted practice. I ask students to access the e-copy of their "About Me" (or other personal, description) and simply cut this into the "Introduction" box of their Blogger Profile (in edit mode). I ask them to consider changing the "narrative" to third person, and I mention that this technique lends a certain "authority" to their bio. I give them ten minutes to change person (from 1st to 3rd) and to edit their bio down to a paragraph (as this field in the Blogger Profile is limited to 1200 words).
At the end of the first 10 min., I have my students stand up and swap chairs with a partner sitting next to or near them. Then I ask all students to review each other and offer feedback. About 4 or 5 min. before the bell rings, I ask students to make any changes they believe are necessary to their "Introductions," save, and log-out.
During the final ten minutes or so of class, I review the following web pages:
- re-read the text of your short bio and take a look at this very straightforward advise from a WikiHow contributor ... how does your work compare?
- despite the fact that you are not yet "working for a living" and you have yet to decide what industry to apply your talents to, it's never too early to think like an "information age careerist" ... here are examples of good advice from some leading business consultants, regarding personal branding:
- from the award winning website/magazine Fast Company
- from former Microsoft engineer and business consultant Scott Berkun
- from Bernadette Jiwa, voted best Australian Business Blogger of 2012 from the Australian Writer's Centre (do not overlook the examples she posts from around the web, linked near the bottom of her entry)
Later I will make these links accessible either via email or on a slide of the course Slides show.