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Getting more than you’d expect from Wordpress.

An evening in the Lanes at the Skiff. 

This is Silicon Valley on the south coast of England. This was a Word Up.

Chris Harding from ‘More Than’ and memorial headstones insurance.

I’ve missed all of this, the casual, bright and open vibrancy of Brighton. Where else in on a Tuesday night do get beer, cake and good crack while talking shop?

Never in Milton Keynes.

Chris used a great analogy on bike riding with all kinds of sensors.

He monitors his performance when road racing to deal with the boredom and to understand what the training is doing for him. His joy is Mountain Bike riding.  Without analytics you don’t know a blog’s performance.

Set some KPIs before you start.

Yoast plugin

Clicktale – add in WordPress

Go squared

NB unique visitors


Referrers
Dwell time now down to 5 seconds
Page impressions – eyes on a page
Bounce rate people leaving within 10 seconds

Keep key content above the fold to disclose as much as possible in the first 250 words.

Find out what people are saying


Reciprocal feedback
Fill yourself in slowly
Like at pub
Weave them in gently

Find niche for yourself

It is very much like a play
Hejaz a degree in theatre

Persona profiling

Real or people you have made up.

When you are writing a piece of content bare them in mind.

Translation packages for WordPress

How to avoid the stale

Recycle posts

Information arch

All in WordPress SEO pack

Use inbound writer

Re Resolving and Google

Your content is you currency

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It’s the ‘now revolution’ for online learning as well everything else

My blogging skills were noticed. The task now it to focus them for a good cause – that cause if the Open University.

My reading and training list includes Facebook, Twitter and Linked in. Various books cover all the ground. As I child I had ‘My very own learning to cook book.’ The equivalent is the ‘Dummies’ series. I read them all ‘Blogging for Dummies’, ‘Facebook for Dummies’, even ‘Twitter for Dummies’. They are written by the people who helped build these platforms and the mix of humour and practical advise is invaluable.
This does it for Social Media

This, introduced in a Hubspot Webinar last week is a worthwhile read.

You could read a chapter a night and put what you read into practice the next day. Sounds like an OU MBA course – practised based learning. From my point of view I am seeking out that relationship where I can be pupil to a Master (Barrister), or shadow a Partner (Solicitor) … even apprentice to a skilled craftsperson.
The skills of social media marketing and just a side step away from ‘e-moderating’ from what I see. My role is to act as a catalyst, to listen, comment and engage in equal measure.

The first time I visited the OU Campus I was gobsmacked by its scale. Today I was once again impressed by the quality of in-house training (on the Open Source Software used here called Drupal).

I took notes … because it gave me some insight into the arguments for using Open Source. (Not so much from in the lion’s den, but my head in its mouth).
I’ve read somewhere that students should look at the kind of organisation they are learning with. I have found already that ‘flexibility’ and support’ don’t just apply to students … but applies to employees too.
New comers into distance learning will find this a difficult reputation to match.


p.s. I heard a great line from an OU academic the other day, ‘it’s as if the Open University was waiting for the Internet to happen’. (Prof. Jonathan Silverton)

Now that it’s upon us can you think of anywhere on the globe better placed to flourish?

Competition in tertiary education is a good thing, but the playing field is both muddled and uneven.

Competition is a good thing, but the playing field is both muddled and uneven.

Remember, funding for higher education isn’t simply from the State, but through corporates and research grants. What is more the UK has a long established history of private education at all stages; many parents plan to pay for their children’s education, and where able set funds aside for tertiary education too through savings schemes.

Online support for learning, either blended or 100% at a distance, has become viable for ALL in tertiary education, so they are doing it. Even undergraduates on campus expect the kind of online facilities and support that may until recently been the sole domain of the distance learning student.

In the private sector, where I came from, creating commercial product at any stage: primary, tertiary and secondary was difficult for one simple reason – both students and institutions expected the resources to be free. One model therefore was to have content sponsored. Indeed that’s how I came to succeed in producing careers materials (video) because it was all financed in advance by sponsors and distributed for free. DVD and online based course materials failed because no one would pay for it.

Ten years ago I prepared a report for my employer regarding the production of commercial learning materials, one offs for specific age groups and subjects. My conclusion was don’t, unless it is all paid for upfront. Even the secondary sector is deeply affected by the BBC and their wonderful, free ‘bitesize’ series to support GCSEs.

There must be research on perceptions of UK universities. The cache of the long-established Oxbridge and Russell Group institutions must be substantial. From an employee point of view there are those who will divide hundreds (or thousands) of applications for a few graduate positions into two piles: Oxbridge or not.

Unsound and unfair, but if faced with ostensibly the same grade, but from different instituions, how do you differentiate short of seeing everyone for a first interview or reading exam papers for yourself?

The answer from the student’s point of view used to be the CV thick with extra-curricula activities; I wonder if the future student should pack an e-portfolio, evidence of their worth and potential once away from the student ‘desk’.

The last two decades has seen the private secondary sector buy into/ buy up primary sector ‘prep’ schools even establish pre-prep schools. I wonder to what degree this long-term relationship can be maintained into the tertiary sector?

The Eton Brand, for example, as a University, would be a valid offering in a global market.

Blog for your life … and love it.

I thought 500 page views was a landmark, then 1000. There has been steady growth to 10,000. It went crazy for a week in April with 1,000 views a day then settled back to 150-250 day. Whose counting? Basic analytics are a form of recognition, even reward for the blogger. 50,000 is a biggy that has taken 14 months to achieve. 100,000 is unlikely within the Masters in Open & Distance Education, though a MRes, another module in the MAODE (because it interests me so much) or a MBA are all of interest for later in the year and all would be blogged upon right here.

Are you saying something worthwhile to this audience?

Even if I feel the PC Screen is a mirror and I’m writing this for my benefit first as a reference I can return to later: what did I think? Where is that quote? Where was I in the learning process? Aren’t I glad I’ve moved on! Editing old entries, bringing them up-to-date develops this. As Nabokov wrote,

“I think it is all a matter of love: the more you love a memory, the stronger and stranger it is”

Read Backwards

e-Reading ‘A New Culture of Learning’ backwards in a large font isolating interesting gems I may have missed. Also reading it by search word; ‘play’ works and is appropriate with over 160 mentions.

I liken this to panning for gold.

Once I’ve done this a few times typing out notes may be irrelevant; I’ll know it. ‘Play as the new form of learning?’

One final thought. Two decades ago I liken learning to a nurturing process, of an educator/teacher or course designer/principal sprinkling water on the heads of students buried like heads of lettuce emerging from the ground.

This no longer works for me.

What I now see are kids in a large paddling pool having fun and making up games with toys offered to them by supporting parents and older siblings.

The mantra for e-learning is ‘activity, activity, activity’, perhaps it ought to be ‘play, play, play’; that’s what you’ll come away with if you read John Seely Brown and Douglas Thomas ‘A New Culture of Learning; cultivating the imagination for a world of constant change.’


Social Networking is both a creative and a promotional process

I’ve had five nights in a guest house with FIVE OU students/academics: 3 PhD students and one 2 years post doctoral, while I come in a long way behind as I’m yet to complete my MA (though in theory it is my second MA, and I have done TWO post-graduate courses the equivalent of MAs that were not accredited). So I am another natural for life-long learning.

Conversations – who we are, defined by what we do, what we know, what we don’t know and what we think.

Key components missing from online experience are: rapport, facial expressions as we listen or talk, the reciprocal nature of dialogue there is, or should be a natural see-saw of give and receive, of request and response which asynchronous threads struggle to provide.

I have had thought that as someone who kept a diary before blogging came along that this makes me a natural blogger – it helps.

There is another habit or trait that is equally important and may help others get started – the tradition in school of ‘taking notes’ and even ‘call reports’ or ‘minutes’ of meetings. These are starting points for a blog, the trick is to type it all up in real time, as you go along, then edit/censor before you post. Even post into a private page to exploit the affordances of the blog, the date, the place, the tags and categories and how much easier it is to find tagged information than it is to file it, whether on a desktop harddrive or printed out and put into a filing cabinet.

At its simplest level these notes are an aide memoire – they could be an audio record (Tony Benn) and Captain T Kirk – or they coule be a video log (surely you have seen Avatar – ‘this is science’ he says, dismissive of the importance of reflection, and right to be so given what trouble his personal record made public causes). It may even be the case that someone else takes down your every thought (Churchill’s secretaries).

A writer’s journal – excerpts and ntoes, can only be of practical value to their author – and if they become a successful author, authority or powerful/influential person – then to academics once archived (we love to study the creative process).

A ‘Secret’ Dairy is just that (or in the case of H.G.Wells locked down for 50 years, or Mark Twain 100 years). I hope the genre hasn’t died just because of the compulsion to blog it, and the volume of traffic and interest that such candor, exposure or disclosure can bring. Is that it, bloggers just crave an audience? THey are in fact wannabe lead singers or actors? They’ll say anything if they get an audience, the problem being with a blog to know if that audience is there.

Which is why good stats are vital. Forget comments asa guide to ‘readers,’ and a universal ‘page views’ means little. We need stats on the pages viewed, to know which are or become the hot topics. We need personalised lay-outs and we need to DROP the idea of reverse chronology which by dating an entry also ages it, and by stages gives it a sell by date.

Just because a blog puts you on a soapbox and lets you artificially put up the volume. People get around this in simple ways, they keep their blog locked, or off-line, write under a psuedonym and disguise the main character/location (but risk exposure/scandal) or they buy a hard back notebook/diary and do it that way.

________________________________________________

Note to self:

5:3:1 used to be the north American ratio of promotion, maintaining and creating a website.

1:3:5 was the mistake we said us Brits always made, putting everything into development/creation and little into getting an audience (and therefore customers).

I wonder if the desirable ratio for web 2.0 is more like 3:5:1, whereby the effort to maintain, to be active online, to be engaged in social media networking/social influence marketing is both a form of advertising AND part of the creation process?

Blogging a dead horse – why blogging is like playing a Tuba at a football match and other such analogies

The more I read, the more I research, the more I listen and the more I gush to others about blogging, the more I feel that it is like …‘trying to flog a dead horse to make it pull a load’.

Not the act of blogging, but the actions required to convert people.

People (students) don’t see there value; to read a few well written, apposite blogs, fine. A person that in this environment has something to offering pertaining to their course. Or for entertainment. (Stephen Fry’s Tweats form a micro-blog after all), micro only in the sense that you are restricted by character count per entry. If these parameters are like a letter-box then Stephen Fry is posting plenty himself and garnering a gargantuan response).

I have in front of me ‘Exploring students’ understand of how blogs and blogging can support distance learning in Higher Education’. It was a conference item at ALT-C 2007: Beyond Control: Association Technologies Conference, 4-6 September, Nottingham, UK.

One of its Six authors is Grainne Conole, an OU senior academic, a blogging practitioner and evangelical online chatter-box and good-egg. She wants us all to blog, and understands the magic of a comment … she likes to make new friends and understands the reciprocal nature of reading and leaving salient comments. It’s T.L.C. online.

I just clicked away and posted this in her blog:

I’m faced with the dilemma of having to split my professional, student and blogging personas; I recently joined the Open University Business School. This three-way split has me locking down one diary and ‘friends’ gathered over a decade and tripping over the other two selves, starting afresh with contacts and what I blog wearing my professional hat. I am certain such possible conflicts of interest occur for anyone working in online media communications – broadcasting on behalf of your employer; indeed, my contacts in senior PR and Media roles of various organisations have the weakest of online profiles, even though two of them are published authors.

On the other hand just as I really got going in Facebook to connect with my brother and his family in South Africa and organise my mother’s 80th, I find that living away from home during the week I come online to have some sense of what my family are up to – just a shame our dog doesn’t blog, ‘stick chasing across the South Downs’ would do it.

Currently reading your 2007 paper ‘Exploring students’ understanding of how blogs and blogging can support distance learning in Higher Education’. Are Learning Designers (and those who work with them) ‘flogging a dead horse?’ The analogy I’m about to use in my OU student blog is that I am starting to feel like a Tuba player at a football match – no one is interested, they’re watching the game. Maybe if I could network with the other instrument players in the crowd we could have a jam-session. As another paper on blogging discovered ‘birds of a feather flock together’, we do this and find kindred spirits. The problem in OU student blogging platforms is that we are overly pigeonholed, not just by course, but by module and tutor group (and sub-groups within these).

I liken the Internet to a digital ocean; currently blogging as an OU student is like blogging in fish tank, in a warehouse full of fish tanks. And every so often someone kindly comes along and divides us up even more, creating barriers, rather than opportunities. Please can we just all be tipped into the same ocean?

I then went off to Facebook, via my external blog My Mind Bursts.

I only sat down to transfer notes from a pad … and am yet to transcribe a single word of it.

I was going to say, anything short of writing directly into ‘the white box’ that you are presented with on your chosen blog platform or platforms snacks of something else: a repository, a writer’s journal, a student’s e-portfolio that they leave open … keep forgetting in the lecture hall, that they photocopy and leave on benches outside the refectory.

Reading ‘Everything is miscellaneous’ David Weinberger I find a like mind a) the idea of miscellany, that each page, each asset, whether ostensibly part of something (like this) is like an autumn leave scattered on the forest floor. These leaves never compost down and those that are tagged stay on the top of the pile, those that people find or are guided too most often, stay on the top of the pile … and did it not long ago reach the stage where the leaves on the forest floor are so deep that they have buried the trees?

I put a slightly inept first draft phrase into Yammer the OU Personnel ‘Twitter-like’ feed about dandelions and pomegranates. I’ve used the dandelion metaphor many times, the pomegranate too, but had never put them together.

My thinking was this, if the seed is this blog entry, or a Tweat or even a message in Facebook i.e. an idea, thought, asset or message, a seed if you were scattered to the wind to find its own fortune then developing social media for an institution, whilst the asset, these words, are still a seed, they are coming from a pomegranate, not a dandelion. The reason being that understandably if you are expressing the views of others, collectively or individually, you cannot just hold you thoughts up to the wind and blow. The opening of the pomegranate is, as it were, the necessary processes and procedures. This analogy falls apart though if you have an image of Jamie Oliver holding a pomegranate half in one hand while smashing it with a wooden rolling pin with the other … the OU are not smashing me on the head to extract words like nasal mucus. Rather, at first at least, I will extract them myself with tweezers.

All this and my 16 pages of notes on blogging handwritten into a Shorthand Pad remain unused.

To overcome my reluctance to write-up what I feel I have already expressed I realise I could just photograph my notepad … in fact, I’ll do this and just see how folk manage with my handwriting.

 

 

(47810)

The Contents of My Brain (TCMB)

Fig.1. Glass Skull by Rudat

The current generation will be able to begin to achieve a fraction of this if they please; all I have to go on are diaries I stared in March 1975 and efforts since then to recall all the events, feelings and dreams of my life to that point.

This alongside photoalbums, scrapbooks and sketch books, with lists of books read and films seen, maps of places visited and a complete extended family tree ought to offer a perspective of who or what I am.

Does any of it impact on how I think and behave?

Without my mind is it not simply a repository of typical memories and learning experiences of a boy growing up in the North East of England?

Blogging since 1999 there are like minds out there, though none have come back with an approximation of the same experiences (its been an odd, if not in some people’s eyes, bizarre, even extraordinary roller-coaster of a ride).

It’s value? To me, or others?

I could analyse it ’til the day I die. My goal is no longer to understand me, but to understand human kind. And to better understand the value of exercises such as this, not simply hoarding everything, but of consciously chosing to keep or record certain things.

For now I will exploit the tools that are offered. In theory anything already digitised on computers going back to the 1980s could now be put online and potentially shared. Can I extract material from a Floppy-disc, from an Amstrad Disc, from a zip-drive? Should I add super8mm cine-flim already digistised on betacam masters? And the books Iv’e read, beyond listing them do I add links even re-read some of them? And a handful of school exercise books (geography and maths) A’Level folders on Modern History. I kept nothing from three years of university, yet this is where the learning experience ought to have been the most intense. But I had no plans to take that forward had I?

My university learning was spent on the stage or behind a video camera.

Should I undertake such an exercise without a purpose in mind?

Do I draw on it to write fiction?

There is a TV screenplay ‘The Contents of My Mind’ that could be stripped down and re-written, even shared.

And all the fiction, the millions of words.

Will this have a life if put online?

Is it not the storyteller’s sole desire to be heard? To have an attentive audience?

The wonderful world of Quora

The wonderful world of Quora.

 

As mentioned by Dr P Kerfoot of Spaced-ed.

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