Yesterday I made a presentation to a group of about 30 gifted teenagers (15-19 year-olds) about opportunities blogging and the burgeoning search engine optimization (SEO) field offered them now and in the future. I explained how they could make money writing blog posts, and that doing so in high school and college was a very effective way to hone their writing talent and build a skill they could use in many ways throughout their lives.
To introduce the SEO discussion, I quoted an email I received this week from a colleague in the open education efforts: “I have been connecting with friends in Silicon Valley that have knowledge of SEO gurus. Given the enormous economic impact of an optimized site, hot SEO people are among the highest compensated folks in the web-industry these days.” The kids were amazed. Only a couple of them had heard of search engine optimization.
I had begun the talk by telling the group that the book in the picture I was projecting on the screen we were looking at was my textbook from 1958, the year I graduated from college. I explained that I have kept the book because in terms of what has happened in biology in the past 50 years, the book is now quite quaint: it does not mention DNA.
For the young people in my audience, SEO is apparently in the same state of obscurity as DNA was when I was their age. In 1958, Crick and Watson had discovered the double helix and the genetic coding method it held for replicating life. Biologists have worked through the half century since to understand the new science of genetics and to implement its powers. In 1958 the huge implications we now know of DNA were barely hinted.
Can it be that the network structures over which search is being optimized as the 21st century method of commerce and communication are discoveries as important as DNA was? I think they are. The challenge for educators is to understand the new network science and to implement its powers for learning.
Using SEO for education means optimizing open education resources (OER) so the search engines can find them when students look for what they want to learn. Just because kids are early adopters of computers, we cannot assume they should have to figure out SEO for learning resources. They don’t yet know what that is, best I can tell.