Where does this fit in the curriculum?

There is certainly no doubt that today’s youth are connected. Some of them even become “famous” through their well-know Internet blogs an video posts. But just how much can that fame be worth?

Some edubloggers have been discussing the idea of “social capital”, the premise that the connections you bring to an organization through digital networking can be of significant value. For instance, would someone like Jeff Utecht, Clay Burell or Karl Fisch, all well-known edubloggers, be of more value to a school just because of the connections they have developed with others?

Now comes word that maybe the social capital or digital fame can be worth marks. Maybe the difference between an A+ and a C can be measured by Technorati? One educator seems to think so.

As detailed in this CNN story, grades in Jamie Wilkinson’s class at Parsons The New School for Design in New York City are generated by a computer, based on traffic on student websites. Students can track grades in real time on the class blog. Wilkinson argues that these skills are of value in the new global economy.

“In a world where Facebook is valued at something like $16 billion, it makes sense to encourage students and faculty to study together — not just to explore how these new online systems work, or to sit around reading case studies, but to interact directly and play with these systems,” says Ted Byfield, associate chair of Parsons’ department of communication, design and technology. “This isn’t 16th-century German literature; you can’t have an expert from the field come in and teach. There’s no established body of knowledge. It’s all new.”

Certainly the ability to build a global learning / work network will be a valuable tool in the next few years. My concern lies in the methods students used to generate traffic. Global citizenship will require not just connectedness, but value to that connectedness. Students soon found that more traffic can be generated by questionable content that content of redeeming social value. What do they learn from this? Where do we start the discussions of digital citizenship when the biggest library is but a click away from the world’s largest arcade, the world’s largest “TV/movie/music” store and the world’s largest porn shop?

Hopefully they are getting the notion that the only way to build a solid and lasting network, or “famo” as they call it, is through consistent quality and challenging content.

A mighty challenge lies ahead.

tags: technology, education, parsons new school, whipple

4 thoughts on “Where does this fit in the curriculum?

  1. I’ve been wanting to write about this since bookmarking it a couple days ago. It brought to mind the “famo” that you and others in my network succeeded in garnering for Students 2.0.

    Without the marketing “blitz” – the countdown badge, the splash page, and Twitter and blog campaign to push s2oh on the del.icio.us “hotlinks” front page – it’s doubtful the students writing on that blog would be taking their new writing “jobs” seriously. They’d be writing to a handful of people, instead of the 500-1,500 daily visitors they draw.

    So that tells me knowing how to achieve “famo” can be valuable.

    I’m also playing with a similar concept in my senior “visionary blogging” project. Unfortunately, those seniors don’t have the vision, so it’s not looking promising, but…. knowing how to attract readers, rankings, etc, done with good content only, _does_ seem to have value for learners.

    I’m still wrestling with this, and am frankly so worn out, still, from the s2oh launch that I can’t get off the mat and try to pin it down.

    Interesting world, huh Jeff?

  2. Pingback: Grades by Technorati? | 2¢ Worth

  3. The idea of social currency is an interesting concept. Being socially judged via our online personas is becoming an everyday reality. One of my new favorite Science Fiction writers, Cory Doctow, writes about a future where your social points are actual currency (called whuffie).

    I always find it interesting to see how our writers can imagine our future and how often their dreams come true.

  4. I think you’re right that there’s a difference between quality and quantity. Knowing just one person if it’s the right person is more valuable than knowing tons. Then again, when you have some obscure tech problem, the wider your network the more you stand a chance of finding an answer.

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