The concept of branding is an essential part of social media and web 2.0 literacy. The way in which an individual or business presents themselves online through a variety of online venues is absolutely essential to how viewers will perceive them. This can have either positive or negative consequences depending on how one's web 2.0 brand comes across. Case in point, in the latest issue of Government Technology an article entitled "The Trouble with Twitter and other social networks" depicts an actual example of a job candidate grousing about the potential commute and how he would hate the line of work but enjoy the pay, being monitored by his future employer. Had this gentleman realized that his online presence would be viewed by his boss, he likely would not have said those things, and may have gotten the job that he just fumbled.
As the line between one's private musings and professional postings become blurred in the 21st century, we must become ever wary of the brand we put forth, establish and maintain. I believe strongly that teaching 21st century digital learners how to use social media wisely is a mandate of the educational system. The goal is not so much teaching students how to use web 2.0 tools, as how to use it properly--to collaborate, communicate in a respectful professional way, and to build a brand that will sell their knowledge and skills to land a job after graduation. If we ignore this mandate, and continue to puritanically prohibit social media in the classroom, then those students' unbridled youthful expressions of rebellion and angst will be viewed by a potential employer during a background search and likely preclude them from gaining mainstream employment in the job market. Britain recently announced that it will begin requiring web 2.0 social media in primary classrooms, so that students must become fluent in such things as blogging, podcasts, Wikipedia and Twitter.
Although public schools in the United States are slowly starting to embrace social media in the K-12 and post secondary environments, we have a ways to go before we will be up to the level of the UK in broadly adopting, or requiring web 2.0 fluency and appropriate use curricula in instruction. I hope to do my part to bring about that change in this country for the betterment of our future generations, and for all of humankind.