A whole new game for internet search

The major search engines now rank web pages not just by how relevant they might be to individual users, but also by the “Klout” score of their publisher, Maiers told attendees of the 2011 Building Learning Communities conference in July.

Klout is a measure of your social media influence across the web. It takes into account the number of internet connections you’ve made, the frequency of your online contributions, and the size of your social media following. The more consistently you participate in online social media—such as by blogging, or tweeting, or leaving comments on websites—the higher your Klout score will be.

As the new rules of internet search make clear, if students and faculty want their ideas to be seen online, they must build a strong social media presence, Maiers said. She recommended that educators teach social media skills to their students and give them a chance to create, collaborate, and contribute online. “In turn, students will build Klout,” she said—which will help them exert “a personal influence on the world.”

The larger our online social networks are, Maiers concluded, the more authority we’ll possess on the web—and the better our search results will be, too. If we make a diverse group of connections online, she explained, we’re more likely to be exposed to different points of view in our internet searches.

For this reason, Maiers said, the lessons we learned in kindergarten seem especially relevant for the digital world: how to make friends, listen, share, be polite, ask questions, be curious and open-minded … and generally be a good person.

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