Through Using the Internet for College and Career Counseling I have discovered a much more effective way to deliver my course at the high school. What prompted me to revolutionize my teaching style? First, we must take a look at the content of the course.
Introduction to Digital Literacy
We began by learning how to compare and evaluate search engines and reviewed the basics of conducting a search online. We learned how to evaluate websites and test them for bias or potential hidden agenda. The major task for the week was to sign-up for Weebly.com to setup our website.
Technology in the Counseling Field
We looked at college admissions blogs, learned how to critique them, and began compiling our first batch of resources. We also started our own blog. We also began to talk about the importance of effectively using technology in the counseling profession, by maintaining a website, blog, podcast, and social media accounts. By keep abreast with the changes in technology and by having an online presence, it helps you to establish authority in the field. By compiling your own resources in one place, like a personal website, you aid parents and students in keeping up with you and your practice. The sheer number of resources were able to evaluate this semester has given me material in a variety of formats (text, voice, video) and will help me reach students with a variety of learning styles and habits.
We learned about podcasts, how to create them and how to subscribe to them. We evaluated college counseling podcasts and compiled a list of resources for our website. By podcasting you can save yourself time from repeating a lot of the information you have to convey to all students and parents. This frees up more time for more personalized counseling sessions. Having your own podcasting series is beneficial in gaining new clients or for relaying information. I am looking forward to incorporating more podcasts into my practice, by perhaps assigning selected episodes for homework and having a discussion about them in the following class.
Social Media in Admissions
We discussed how admissions officers are using social media profiles. We learned about the effective use of social media for college counselors and we created professional Twitter accounts. Some of the most important things I learned were about establishing an online identity and maintaining a professional presence across a number of platforms. I was hesitant to join Twitter as I thought of it as just one other account I have to check, but it has proven to be an invaluable tool for sharing information. I find myself reading more articles now than ever before and have learned probably as much outside of class as I have within.
The College Search
We learned about the role of Internet based resources in the college search process. We also critiqued college search tools and added links and descriptions to our website. The most important part of this week was learning how to teach students the method of going about the search process, as it can be quite confusing with so many resources available and difficult to decide where to start.
Virtual College Tours
We compared a number of virtual college campus tours and critiqued them in our weekly discussion. We included links to these sites along with brief descriptions of each and put them on our website. Overall, I was pretty disappointed in mostly all of these resources and I hope that in the future these resources will undergo major development. Virtual tours are especially useful for international students.
Financial Aid & Scholarships
I was a novice in financial aid procedures and this brief introduction to the financial aid process developed into a mini course for me as I read a large amount of material on the subject. I also composed a list of FAQs for my students and parents based on what I anticipate will likely need additional clarification. It also took a long time to go through the resources and links associated with financial aid. We looked a financial aid, grant, and scholarship websites and sought the best materials to add to our own website. The scholarship search process was perhaps one of the most important parts of the lesson because of the sheer number of scholarships sites available. The process it took to evaluate these resources was quite grueling, but I am confident that my students will benefit from this research. If anything, it will save them from having to go through the trouble themselves and free them up to write the essays many scholarships require.
Standardized Test Preparation
As mentioned earlier, standardized test prep is one of my fortes. One of the more interesting things I came across was just how little (or how much) test prep can benefit a student. We discussed the costs associated with test prep, being financial and opportunity costs. This is something we deal with all of the time as we have students who neglect their academic courses because they focus all of their time on test prep. We evaluated a large number of resources, both free/paid, and added them to our websites.
My understanding of the role the Internet plays in college counseling has been forever changed through this course. The College and Career Readiness course I created for WLSA will be delivered entirely from my website and each lecture will be enriched with multimedia and online resources to keep the students more actively engaged. I am even considering recording the lectures as podcasts and having the students listen to them as part of their homework and to come in the following class ready to discuss what they have learned, applying the new material using the resources and links associated with the lecture (flipping the classroom).