Category Archives: digital literacies

Building Relationships

Silence would be a blessing.Someone asked me the other day the difference between link baiting, link building, and link or comment spam.

Trying to keep it simple, here is what I said:

Link baiting: is a philosophy that places importance on creating useful, remarkable content that people will, just as a matter of course, want to share with their friends because of the content’s intrinsic value.

Link building: is a method of gaining connections via a hyperlink to another web page or site. Increasing the number of links to your site from credible sites is important because it’s one of the ways Google measures the popularity of your site and the position it achieves in search engine results. More good links increases a site’s visibility with Google.

Link/comment spam: In face-to-face conversations, this type of person likely talks highly of himself and what he’s doing while not listening to others. Online, this sort of behavior is called link or comment spam. It’s the frowned-upon practice of a poser saying little or nothing relevant in a comment on a post, but including a link to his site with whatever keywords he deems important. It can leave a bad impression that he’s just doing it to game the system and drive traffic to his site.

As in this funny picture I found, this type of behavior may make you want to tape his mouth closed or glue the keys on his keyboard together. But of course, the first route of link baiting with professional link building are the best options of how to handle things.

However, even more, I like meeting and talking with people face-to-face. I’m so glad it’s a component of my job because then I have the opportunity to build real relationships that have the potential to continue on and on past one blog post. That’s why I wanted to attend BlogHer, the Social Media Soiree, Social Luxe Lounge, and BowlHer last week. It’s inspiring to build relationships with so many savvy entrepreneurial women. If later, we and our companies do more business together, then that’s icing on the cake.

practice

Daniel Anderson posted a quote from Daniel J. Levitin’s text, This is Your Brain On Music : The Science of a Human Obsession, which I’m clipping part of below:

The emerging picture from such studies is that ten thousand hours of practice is required to achieve the level of mastery associated with being a world-class expert— in anything. In study after study, of composers, basketball players, fiction writers, ice skaters, concert pianists, chess players, master criminals, and what have you, this number comes up again and again.

Dan wonders what might be gained by aiming for engagement rather than mastery.

I wonder how this might connect with Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s work on Flow. In Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience, MC states, “Even the simplest physical act becomes enjoyable when it is transformed so as to produce flow” (97). Paraphrased steps in this process are:

1. set goal and subgoals
2. measure progress to goals
3. focus on goals and make fine-tuning adjustments
4. develop skills to match opportunities
5. adjust goals when boredom hits

Do we need to change the language we use when we write assignments? Rather than say something on the order of: For this assignment, you must write an argument that…, would we be better off to say: For this assignment, you need to set a goal and subgoals for this project…, identify the skills you will learn… Would students understand/relate/engage more with ‘goal’ language?

Guest Speaking

Tonight was the night of my talk at Missouri Western State University. My talk was entitled: “No Mean Feat: Taking a Nuanced Response Approach to Digital Tools.” (flyer). There were about 50 people in the audience, which was a nice size. I think I was able to make eye contact with all of the different sections, although I think my voice was a little hoarse when I first started. I felt like I was out of breath until I got into the first couple slides.

I talked about some of the challenges facing teachers, staff, and students because of new media, Web 2.0 tools, especially social networking with MySpace and Facebook. I argued that the adults in students’ lives–administrators, parents, teachers, librarians, and IT professionals–all want to make sure that students are safe, but because there is a shortage of knowledge about social networking, administrators are forced to react to situations when it would really be so much better if we could move to a more nuanced approach to how we address this situation.

More knowledge, learning situations, and community building approaches need to be developed. Teachers and staff can develop their action plans by first acquiring more knowledge about social networking and Web 2.0 tools, then they can help students learn to communicate more appropriately online, before finally developing a more comprehensive approach to the situation.

I talked about assignments and gave lots of examples for using Flickr, Blogs, Wikis, Del.icio.us, RSS and News Alerts with Pageflakes, Podcasts, Videos and Games.

Then, in the last half of the event, a panel with faculty, administration, IT, a student, teacher, and a librarian answered questions from the audience about their opinions and uses of technology. This discussion was really beneficial. I think one of the biggest points to emerge from the discussion is that administrators and IT really need teachers and librarians to come to them with plans (here’s what I’d like to do, here’s how I need to do it and why, and what it will cost). Then, they are much better equipped to make more informed decisions instead of getting all reactionary.

It was really a fun event, and then they took me to dinner! It’s does my self esteem good to be treated as an expert for an evening. Plus, they encouraged me to look for more educational consulting or IT/education opportunities. They said schools need more people like me. 🙂 I don’t want it to seem like I’m talking myself up and all that, but schools really do need people who can focus on emerging technology and literacy issues. For example, one of the panel members said that even in two years she didn’t think curriculum would be able to change as much as was needed because they can’t keep up and/or recognize when something will be significant. I need to think more about that…how to help educators respond more quickly to changes in media and get out in front of the learning curve. The Chair of the Education department said that the processes that students are using with one application can be applied to other learning situations and later on in life. That’s a big part of it, but we need to be able to talk in meaningful ways about what those processes are.

Minor tech issues — I need to figure out how to better work with slides on a huge screen. The screen was so huge that I had a hard time using my displayed powerpoint as a guide as I talked. I could have stayed behind the lecturn and looked at the monitor occasionally, but I hate doing that. Instead, I tried to stand in front and move side to side a bit to engage the audience and then move back to the lecturn to switch slides. They did have a wireless mouse to advance slides, but it was a little awkward to use. I need to invest in a wireless remote that is easy to advance and backtrack as needed. Also, I need to get better at popping in and out of slide view. There were times when I could have jumped to live Internet sites, but instead, I saved all my surfing and showing to the end. Oh, and the YouTube video that I wanted to show was blocked by the site’s filter! It worked out though — there was enough time to answer questions and get feedback from the audience. Next time I’ll put it on a CD or DVD.

On the schedule for tomorrow are two writing and technology workshops. I’ll lead two hour long workshops with an audience of teachers and students in both sessions. It’s a little more challenging trying to develop a plan to work with both teachers and students. Since I only have an hour, and it’s hands on, I need to be very focused. I’ll try and post more about that tomorrow.

Audience Issues and Publishing

In an earlier post, I asked whether it’s feasible for an academic that Book #2 or #3 is written for a different/wider/less academic audience than Book #1. While doing some research this evening, I happened to find an example.

Why Video Games Are Good For Your Soul (Publisher: Common Ground, Apr 2005, paperback, 128 pp) – The text is about pleasure and learning. In the introduction, Gee states that the text is for anyone who is interested in video games even though he will talk about game theory. He is quick to qualify “theory” and promises not to engage in too much jargon.

His earlier text is more for an academic audience. What Video Games Have to Teach Us About Learning and Literacy (Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan; New Ed edition (May 7, 2004), 240 pp)

Other examples?