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.