Molly Katchpole isn’t the only one “rallying the troops” online. We are living in an era of instant digital feedback. Just this morning, Jan Hoffman wrote in the New York Times about the growing use of “clickers” to provide instant feedback in classrooms, on cruise ships, and even to speed up sorority elections.

Amazon.com pioneered the concept of online customer reviews and rankings of products, a trend that is now being leveraged across nearly every area of consumer life — for restaurants (Yelp), movies (Rotten Tomatoes), or travel (Trip Advisor).

Even our personal opinions and preferences are subject to rankings via Facebook’s ubiquitous Like button, which studies now show can influence buying decisions as well.

Of course, the rise in acceptance and use of online reviews and rankings has inevitably given way to charges of manipulation.

Even things that many feel are “un-rankable” have succumbed to the trend. U.S. News and World Report’s controversial but wildly popular college rankings include a healthy dose of “peer reputation” polling in their overall formulas. A few months ago, many New York newspapers caused an uproar when they published individual rankings of New York City teachers.

Behind the scenes, however, students have been ranking their teachers for years on the “Rate My Teachers” web site.

Most adults reading this blog have probably consulted an Amazon.com review to buy a book or used feedback on a travel website to make a decision on where to stay for a weekend. And, I’d bet that most of us probably feel uncomfortable about some of the ways that young people are embracing social media and rankings, including a recent fad for young girls to post videos of themselves with the question “Am I Ugly?

While some of these trends can cross moral or ethical lines, social and business uses of technology and the impact of peer review or crowd sourcing will no doubt impact the educational landscape in the near future.

In my next post, we’ll begin to unpack the concept of “Disruptive Technology” before moving on to examine how the digital lives of our youth will lead to new expectations for our schools.