David points to the fact that the University of Michigan is offering a M.A. M.S.I. specialization in Social Computing (among other things):

Students pursuing a specialization in Social Computing learn to analyze online social interactions, both in online communities and in more diffuse social networks. They learn about features of social computing technologies so they can recognize opportunities to put them to use in new settings and make good choices about alternative implementations.

And this quote from one of the professors is pretty provocative, I think:

The depth of our curriculum in social computing is unparalleled. Rather than a single course as you might find in other programs, we offer a range of in-depth courses in the technologies and applications that are driving the Web 2.0 revolution.

So, does anyone else find this a little ironic? I mean how in the world would this particular degree “certify” anyone as a social computing specialist any better than, um, spending a year or so just actually becoming a part of social learning network, learning from the various teachers and conversations within it, and building a rich, online portfolio that illustrates your ability to be an online community manager, social network analyst, community organizer or any of the other job descriptions they list as possible outcomes? For, um, zero dollars?

Here’s the list of courses you have to take:

And look at the Recommender Systems description as an example:

Recommender systems guide people to interesting materials based on information from other people. A large design space of alternative ways to organize such systems exists. The information that other people provide may come from explicit ratings, tags, or reviews, or implicitly from how they spend their time or money. The information can be aggregated and used to select, filter, or sort items. The recommendations may be personalized to the preferences of different users.

Do we really need a class in this? Might be more effective to head on over to Classroom 2.0 and start your own program.

I’ve said it many times, my blog, my participation in this network is my Ph.D. I know that my own experience won’t fit for everyone else. But how hard would it be to take the descriptions that U of Michigan offers, create a wiki page for each, and begin to find teachers and resources and build networks to create your own classroom “of unparalleled depth” to prepare you for a new, exiting future?

For, um, zero dollars?

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