Teaching and Learning Resources by Peter Pappas

How to Market Yourself Online? Freely Share Quality Content

 

Content is everything

This morning I responded to a question on one of my LinkedIn groups. “If you could use only one method to market yourself online, what would do?” After being asked to elaborate on my initial comment, I decided to turn it into a blog post and a demonstration (of sorts). Note: While the question addressed promoting “yourself,” my focus is on promoting your ideas.

Promotion begins with freely sharing quality content. I use the Creative Commons BY-NC 3.0 license. Use it, share it, remix it. Just tell people where you got it, and don’t try and sell it. I’ve never been hesitant to “give my stuff away.” Remember, as the price of commodity drops, consumption increases. Who wants to go back to a site that hides all its content behind a paywall.

Freely sharing your material amplifies and “promotes” it in new ways. One of my most popular posts – Taxonomy of Reflection – has been modified for diverse purposes – from 2nd graders, to the SEC XBRL filing process. I would never have generated all those uses. I don’t even know what the second one is.

Remember, as the price of commodity drops, consumption increases

Each time I publish a new post, I use bit.ly to create a shortened URL along with a tweet pointing back to the new content. (I also send it to Facebook, Linkedin, and Google+). I then add the new post title and shortened URL to an existing text file – a running list of “bit.ly-ized” links to all my posts. I keep that text file on Dropbox, accessible from any of my computers and my iPhone. Your list of “bit.ly-ized” links is a great resource to add to your #edchats, conference backchannel tweets and emails.

I do much of my reading online, focusing on the space where digital literacy, social media, technology and education intersect. If sites offer the option, I’ve registered and created a reader profile – usually with an icon image, info about me and a link back to my blog. If I run across an interesting piece that relates to one of my existing blog posts, I’ll take a moment to leave a comment. I can easily use my text file of shortened URLs to include a link back to one (or more) of my relevant posts. If I happen to be one of the early commenters, I usually will detect a ripple of traffic in from that comment. My analytics show that often, these new visitors will continue on into my site to view a few more of my posts. Please note: I’m not suggesting you use comments as spam to paste a link back to your post. I’m talking about extending the conversation in a meaningful way, and including a link back to you, only if you have a post that’s germane. (I get loads of inarticulate, off-subject “comments” on my blog from sites like FreeTermPapersOnline.com. Does someone really think I’ll approve them?)

To help me find relevant content, I use RSS and auto notifications from a number of sites that steer me towards new material that I might enjoy and comment on. When I’ve written a particularly timely blog post, I sometimes will search on that news item and leave comments on other sites linking back to my post. For example, when the latest PISA test results were released, I placed comments with links back to my post Stop Worrying About Shanghai, What PISA Test Really Tells Us About American Students It was a unique take on the test results that sidestepped the typical “American education Sputnik moment” and drew lots of traffic. Plus the links in didn’t hurt my Google rating on “PISA test” searches.

So answer to the original question – if you could use only one method to market yourself (and your ideas) online – it begins and ends with freely sharing quality content. (And being able to easily access and add to your comments.)

Final note: When I’m done with this post, I’ll illustrate my method by adding a new comment to the Linkedin discussion with a link back.

Hat tip to Chris Wechner for his discussion group question.

Stop Worrying About Shanghai, What PISA Test Really Tells Us About American Students

Sputnik replica
Sputnik replica

The latest results from the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) are public, and already some pundits are declaring it “a Sputnik wake-up.” Others shout back that international comparisons aren’t valid. Rather than wade into that debate, I’d rather look more closely at the questions in the PISA test and what student responses tell us about American education. You can put international comparisons aside for that analysis. 

Are American students able to analyze, reason and communicate their ideas effectively? [Think Common Core standards] Do they have the capacity to continue learning throughout life? Have schools been forced to sacrifice creative problem solving for “adequate yearly progress” on state tests? For more on that last question see my post “As NCLB Narrows the Curriculum, Creativity Declines.” 

PISA provides some answers to those questions and offers an insight into the type of problem solving that rarely turns up American state testing. FYI: PISA is an assessment (begun in 2000) that focuses on 15-year-olds’ capabilities in reading literacy, mathematics literacy, and science literacy. PISA assesses how well prepared students are for life beyond the classroom by focusing on the application of knowledge and skills to problems with a real-life context. For more examples of PISA questions and data click here. 

Do American students learn how to sequence or simply memorize sequences

Here’s one insight into what American students can (and cannot) do that can be gleaned from the 2003 PISA test results. We spend a lot of time in school getting students to learn sequential information – timelines, progressions, life cycle of a moth, steps for how to. Typically the teacher teaches the student the sequence and the student correctly identifies the sequence for teacher on the test. Thus we treat a sequence as a ordered collection of facts to be learned, not as a thinking process for students to use.  This memorization reduces the student’s “mastery” of the chronology to lower order thinking. I was guilty of this when I first started teaching history “Can someone give me two causes and three results of WWII?” 

Sample sequencing problem from PISA

The Hobson High School library has a simple system for lending books: for staff members the loan period is 28 days, and for students the loan period is 7 days. The following is a decision tree diagram showing this simple system:

Pisa-1

The Greenwood High School has a similar, but more complex library lending system:
All publications classified as “Reserved” have a loan period of 2 days.
For books (not including magazines) that are not on the reserved list, the loan period is 28 days for staff, and 14 days for students. For magazines that are not on the reserved list, the loan period is 7 days for everyone.
Persons with any overdue items are not allowed to borrow anything. 

Task

Develop a decision tree diagram for the Greenwood High School Library system so that an automated checking system can be designed to deal with book and magazine loans at the library.  Your checking system should be as efficient as possible (i.e. it should have the least number of checking steps). Note that each checking step should have only two outcomes and the outcomes should be labeled appropriately (e.g. “Yes” and “No”).

Student Results

Only 13.5% of US students were able correctly answered the question. Does it really matter if students in Shanghai did any better? (The student results were rated on a rubric scale.) 

When students are asked to observe a process and develop a sequence they have an opportunity to use a full spectrum of higher-order thinking skills – they must recognize patterns (analyze), determine causality (evaluate) and then decide how they would communicate what they’ve learned to others (create). Sequencing can be taught across the curriculum at a variety of grade levels – we simply have to ask the students to observe and do the thinking.

In case you’re wondering,  correct response should look like this.
Click image to enlarge.

pisa answer
pisa answer 
 

Image credit/ NASA
 

Are students well prepared to meet the challenges of the future?

Try a sample PISA question on my update post: 
“Stop Worrying About Shanghai, What PISA Test Really Tells Us About American Students”

Are they able to analyze, reason and communicate their ideas effectively? Do they have the capacity to continue learning throughout life? Or have schools been forced to sacrifice learning for “adequate yearly progress” on state tests?

The Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) provides some answers to those questions and offers an insight into the type of problem solving that rarely turns up on state testing. PISA is an assessment (begun in 2000) that focuses on 15-year-olds’ capabilities in reading literacy, mathematics literacy, and science literacy. PISA studied students in 41 countries and assessed how well prepared students are for life beyond the classroom by focusing on the application of knowledge and skills to problems with a real-life context. PISA website

NCLB has narrowed our curriculum and forced many schools into the test prep mode. PISA offers a better picture of the independent thinking and problem solving our student will need to be successful. PISA defines problem solving as “an individual’s capacity to use cognitive processes to confront and resolve real, cross-disciplinary situations where the solution is not immediately obvious… and where the literacy domains or curricular areas that might be applicable are not within a single domain of mathematics, science, or reading.”

A competitive workforce is made up of people who can think independently in complex and ambiguous situations where the solutions are not immediately obvious.  Educators need resources and training to craft a rigorous learning environment where students can function as 21st century professionals – critical thinkers who can effectively collaborate to gather, evaluate, analyze and share information.  You can download PISA sample questions, answers and comparative data:
Executive report 3.4MB pdf
Mathematics items 534KB pdf
Mathematics scoring guide and international benchmarks 624KB pdf
Science items 503KB pdf
Science scoring guide and international benchmarks 461KB pdf
Reading items 835KB pdf
Reading scoring guide and international benchmarks 923KB pdf

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