As we move students into doing more projects online, using wikis or blogs or posting videos or images, Tim Stahmer at Assorted Stuff brings up some excellent points to consider about unintended audiences. Students typically have a certain audience in mind when they create a project and post it online.
“However, what about the accidental audience, the people who didn’t know they were looking for our work but found it anyway?
…It’s important for students to realize they need to consider how the words and images they use will reflect on them. And not just at the time of publication. The web has a persistence and a randomness which means materials out of mind, may not be out of sight. “
“Rather than trying to scare students with visions of the latest Dateline tabloid piece, we could approach the subject of safety in part by talking to students about how to project a positive image to the world.”
I think the terms “unintended audience” or “accidental audience” are an excellent way to talk to students about work they do online, just in terms of increasing student awareness. Stahmer goes on to write that most of the time people who stumble across your work online are very positive and want to share new ideas with you, but that students need to be aware of a much broader audience, because that’s not always the case.
Dee Martin, who writes the blog Thoughts Have Wings, picked up on the conversation and offers some very helpful questions we can ask students to consider when they put content online.
To me the point of all this isn’t the “fear factor” promoted by the media, but getting students to think about the content they put out in the world in a more mature way. One of the advantages of the web 2.0 tools is that we can broaden students’ sense of audience in a much more authentic way, and they get it, because most of them are online daily.
And we can talk to them about the professional and life skill of how they present themselves in the world, again in a much more authentic way.
Any questions you would add to the list? comments?