Posters at SEOmoz are debating why the Internet is not taught at schools.

One poster claims: “I think all Universities are quite a ways off from this.” Others simply think this will never happen or that if it does, it will not be worth it.

These opinions are understandable, especially when universities have offered courses with “ecommerce”, “web marketing”, “ebusiness” and similar terms in their course titles when most of these are soooo outdated. Many are limited to explaining what is a cookie, bayesian and game theorems, and few other topics that are not really that useful in the real world.

Here is a first hand story. Back in 2002 I was hired by Graduate School of Business of University of Turabo in PR to teach the graduate course ECommerce Technology. It was the first time the course was offered as a core course for students pursuing a master degree. The problem: the syllabus and textbooks were sooo outdated, with case studies of companies that no longer existed. I was forced to redesign the entire course and material.  

Here is another first hand story. Many students that took data mining at Polytechnic University of Puerto Rico (PUPR) before I was hired by the university were complaining that they did not learn anything useful because lectures emphasized theory and no practice. This is something I tried to avoid when back in October I started to teach the Web Mining graduate course. It is the same approach I use for my other courses.

As for studying the Internet as SEOmoz posters argue, it is not possible to study “The Internet”. When they say “Internet” probably they refer to studying search marketing, SEO, or Web Analytics. It looks like an opportunity for other marketers to make some money out of their peers’s ignorance.

I know there are some seos already trying to squeeze money from their peers by offering college-type courses dictated by “experts”. Don’t be gamed by these folks. Their “colleges” and “institutes” are not certified by any higher education body, like The Middle States Association, or by research funding organizations like NSF. These mostly look like scams and their diplomas are not worth even the ink these hold.

As for the above claim of teaching SEO in colleges, there is a list of traditional schools already teaching updated web marketing, design, usability, and even accessibility courses. In fact, more and more grad schools are developing Web Mining and Web Marketing courses.

At PUPR I’m in the curriculum development arena, developing and teaching the following hands-on courses, all at the graduate level:

Search Engines Architecture (Spring – classes start next week; lectures and lab)
Web Mining (Winter – semester just ended; lectures only) *
Search Engines for Penetration Testing and Intelligence (Fall – next fall; lectures and lab) **

* This was a course on Web Mining, Business Intelligence, and Search Engines. Agenda and syllabus is available online.

**Just asked by the head of EE&EC and CS Dept to teach this one.

These ARE NOT paperless, online courses. The class meets in the computer lab building. We have plenty of computers and software to play with. I offer all lectures using powerpoint and smartboards. We study which Web business models work and which one don’t. We check case studies from the Web. We dissect SEO myths. We teach why and how search engine algorithms and web analytics work, etc, etc.I have grad students conducting projects or theses supported by grants from gov agencies like DoD, etc. Some of these projects interface with SEO, Web Analytics, Business Intelligence, and Homeland Security.

In addition, we have an upcoming conference on these topics (October). I’m also pushing for a 2-year certificate on Web Marketing & Analytics with a local college.

And how about AIRWeb wherein , as scholars and researchers, we dissect and test search engine spam strategies and find new ways to neutralize, minimize, or “kill” these techniques–many promoted by some among you?

SEOS: Definitely, we are not oblivious to Web marketing and your “world”.

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