The Networked Student

This is a worthwhile video for all educators!

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Writing for Your Audience is the Right Thing to Do.

Another article from copyblogger reminded me of how to use the web to get my information to the public.

In the past, I would always hear about using plenty of key words within your site codes so the search engines will have many ways to find you and bring people to you. The article, called Keyword Research: It’s Not What You Think, in copyblogger gave me a bit more insight.

The article suggested that you need to read (and read and read) what is popular on the web. In our case, we would read all of the environmental health information that our target audience reads. First, it is very important to understand what words grab their attention. Also, what kind of articles are attractive to them and what ways do they get their information. This sounds like a lot of time, but studying your audience puts you in their world and in the long run you will have a much more effective outreach program.

I also found interesting the tools to see what phrases people are using to search for environmental health information.

Keyword research tools like Wordze, Keyword Discovery, and Wordtracker estimate the number of times people search for different phrases. For instance, according to Wordze, approximately 11,222 people search for the term “blogging” each month.

It is a bit of a game, and I love games. It seems like if we combined “environmental health” and “blogging”, we would reach more people. You can also gauge the popularity of a topic relative to other topics. This may give us a better idea of what information the “web” community needs in relation to environmental health.

In relation to using a blog for outreach:

  • Businesses with blogs want to make money. We would want to use a blog to build partnerships, create community, and reach target audiences that go beyond borders. Doing this effectively will lead to successful grant proposals and publications. Most importantly, we will have a greater impact and be sustainable with our community education efforts.
  • Knowing what our target audiences read and using familiar and popular phrases will help us find a niche and social network. We can reach more people, and we can post topics that people want to read about. In relation to Center research, we can examine what about the research will be important and valuable to our target audiences. Can we find a niche that others are not covering on the web?
  • We can connect with community organizations and potential partnerships. Most community groups are using the web and social networks to reach audiences.

Copyblogger suggests that before starting a blog, you carefully decide on a niche and angle.

Ok, so we did all this and people are coming to our blog. We can see the interest by the statistics showing us the number of hits, how they find the site, the links they click, and perhaps comments from the public on the posts. But are we doing effective outreach and education? How do we measure effectiveness? Those are questions for continued discussion.

Using Social Media to Improve Outreach Efforts

OSU Marketing sent out an article called, “50 Ways Marketers Can use Social Media to Improve Their Marketing” from the blog of Chris Brogan.  I have adapted it to what I think would be useful for environmental health community outreach.

35 Ways to Use Social Media to Improve Outreach Programs

  1. Add social bookmark links to your most important web pages and/or blog posts to improve sharing.
  2. Build blogs and teach relationship building techniques.
  3. For every video project make sure there’s an embeddable web version for improved sharing.
  4. Learn how tagging and other metadata improve your ability to search and measure the spread of information.
  5. Create educational podcasts and podcasts that market the research and university/program.  Be sure to include an introduction and closing that share the web site address for more information.
  6. Build community platforms around real communities of shared interest.
  7. Help stakeholders participate in existing social networks, and build relationships on their turf.
  8. Couple your email newsletter content with additional website content on a blog for improved commenting.
  9. Learn which bloggers are providing information about environmental health to the public or other stakeholders. Learn how to measure their influence. Could they write a story about your program?
  10. Experiment with Flickr and/or YouTube groups to build media for specific events.
  11. Recommend that staff/colleagues start personal blogs on their personal interests, and learn first hand what it feels like, including managing comments, wanting promotion, etc.
  12. Map out an integrated project that incorporates a blog, use of social networks, and a face-to-face event to build relationships and market your program or .
  13. Start a community outreach and education group on Facebook.
  14. Attend a conference dealing with social media like New Media Expo, BlogWorld Expo, New Marketing Summit.
  15. Collect case studies of social media success. Tag them “socialmediacasestudy” in del.icio.us.
  16. Interview current social media practitioners. Look for bridges between your methods and theirs.
  17. Explore distribution. Can you reach more potential partners, collaborators, and partcipants of your program on social networks?
  18. Don’t forget to market events on early social sites like Yahoogroups and Craigslist. They still work remarkably well.
  19. Practice delivering quality content on your blogs, such that customers feel educated / equipped / informed.
  20. Turn your blog into a mobile blog site with Mofuse. Free.
  21. Learn what other free tools might work for community building, like MyBlogLog.
  22. Ensure you offer the basics on your site, like an email alternative to an RSS subscription. In fact, the more ways you can spread and distribute your content, the better.
  23. Make WebsiteGrader.com your first stop for understanding the technical quality of a website.
  24. Make Compete.com your next stop for understanding a site’s traffic. Then, mash it against competitors’ sites.
  25. Remember that the people on social networks are all people, have likely been there a while, might know each other, and know that you’re new. Tread gently into new territories. Don’t NOT go. Just go gently.
  26. Voting mechanisms like those used on Digg.com show your stakeholders you care about which information is useful to them.
  27. Track your inbound links and when they come from blogs, be sure to comment on a few posts and build a relationship with the blogger.
  28. Find a bunch of bloggers and podcasters whose work you admire, and ask them for opinions on your social media projects. See if you can give them a free sneak peek at something, or some other “you’re special” reward for their time and effort (if it’s material, ask them to disclose it).
  29. Experiment with different lengths and forms of video.
  30. Work with practitioners and media makers to see how they can use their skills to solve your problems. Don’t be afraid to set up pilot programs, instead of diving in head first.
  31. People power social media. Learn to believe in the value of people.
  32. Spread good ideas far. Reblog them. Bookmark them. Vote them up at social sites. Be a good citizen.
  33. Don’t be afraid to fail. Be ready to apologize. Admit when you’ve made a mistake.
  34. Re-examine who in the organization might benefit from your social media efforts. Help equip them to learn from your project.
  35. Use the same tools you’re trying out externally for internal uses and learn about how this technology empowers collaboration.

Getting a Handle on the Blogosphere

From How to Save the World Blog

WHAT THE BLOGOSPHERE WANTS MORE OF…. I will be working on it.

Blog readers want to see more…..

  • original research, surveys etc.
  • original, well-crafted fiction
  • great finds: resources, blogs,essays, artistic works
  • news not found anywhere else
  • category killers: aggregators that capture the best of many blogs/feeds, so they need not be read individually
  • clever, concise political opinion consistent with their own views
  • benchmarks,quantitative analysis
  • personal stories, experiences, lessons learned
  • first-hand accounts
  • live reports from events
  • insight:leading-edge thinking & novel perspectives
  • short educational pieces
  • relevant “aha” graphics
  • great photos
  • useful tools and checklists
  • précis, summaries, reviews and other time-savers
  • fun stuff: quizzes, self-evaluations, other interactive content

Blog writers want to see more…

  • constructive criticism, reaction, feedback
  • ‘thank you’ comments, and why readers liked their post
  • requests for future posts on specific subjects
  • foundation articles: posts that writers can build on, on their own blogs
  • reading lists/aggregations of material on specific, leading-edge subjects that writers can use as resource material
  • wonderful examples of writing of a particular genre, that they can learn from
  • comments that engender lively discussion
  • guidance on how to write in the strange world of weblogs

Citizen Journalism

As I think about ways to expand the Hydroville Curricula to other audiences, such as community colleges, I also think about how to adapt it to give students technology skills that will help them in their careers.  Since Hydroville is about understanding and solving on real-life enviromental health problems in the community, it seems a worthwhile assignment would be to foster students to share real-life environmental health stories to their communities using video, audio, blogs, and even virtual worlds like Second Life.

Educause has a written a worthy article called, 7 Things You Should Know About Citizen Journalism.

What are the implications for teaching and learning? An important corollary to learning how specific applications work, such as video-capture and online publishing tools, is understanding how the products of those tools can be used to present a particular version of a story. Citizen journalism encourages students to think critically about what it means to be unbiased, to present competing viewpoints, and to earn readers’ trust. It also forces students to consider what separates a mere anecdote from a legitimate news story. Participating as citizen journalists can help students hone their media literacy skills, making those students better able to assess online information and use it in appropriate ways. Citizen journalism gives students the opportunity to receive community feedback on their contributions, helping them gauge their comprehension of a subject, and it provides students with authentic learning tasks, engaging with communities of users beyond the walls of the classroom.

Living Conversations

The Today Show caught my attention today. For Breast Cancer Awareness Month, a site was highlighted to share the voices and experiences of breast cancer survivors, called Living Conversations. It is a nice example of creating a platform for sharing experiences – a learning community.

Visit the site at: http://www.livingconversations.com/

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