Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Maybe It's Your Tags and Links! or lack thereof

A colleague on Classroom 2.0 mentioned that he was not getting any feedback, on his blog, when he started a conversation about international educational technology groups. Since many teachers have provided information about these groups, I thought I will help him add to his list.

Doesn't each writer hope that people find their blog interesting and helpful? I thought the answer was yes, so I was curious to discover why he wasn't receiving feedback on this blog posting. I began to investigate the situation so that I could learn from it. Learning from others is a common goal among teachers involved in professional development. Find an interesting question and learn about it.

What started out as a short bypass to help out a colleague, turned into another, excellent learning opportunity for me. I discovered that links need to be accurate, the link in a posting should take you to the exact posting the blogger wants you the reader to access. I also discovered that blogs need to have layers of organization for ease of access, and tag clouds can represent a necessary equivalent of an online bibliography.

At first glance, I looked at my colleague's CR2.0 discussion tags, and I selected a "lack of significant tags" thesis that may be keeping people from his blog post. I know that many of our international edtech friends watch our blogs, just as we watch theirs. I thought maybe his intended audience, international education technology advocates, didn't scope out any relevant tags. To figure out if this might be the case, I looked at the tags he used in his CR2.0 discussion.

The CR2.0 tags for his discussion, Non-US Ed Tech Organizations, were: ed, organizations, tim, blogging, tech, intended, consequences, holt. I believe that the tags: organizations, tech, and ed, were helpful and quite appropriate. The other tags seemed fine for people looking for my colleague's blogs, but didn't relate to the topic at hand, international organizations for educational technology. Therefore, I noted that adding the tags, international, educational, technology, provided in his CR2.0 discussion title might allow improved access to the relevant blog posting, therefore helping him get more comments relevant to his request for names of organizations.

Next, I went to my CR2.0 colleagues' blog link to find the posting he was referencing, so I could reference the tags he used there. The blog link provided did not take me to the relevant blog posting. The link given took me to the front page of his website/blog, so I had to click on it to get to his blog postings. That was alright because I felt confident that I would find the relevant blog posting soon.

After I clicked into his blog postings, I began to look through his current postings and the archives for a title that related to International Educational Technology Organizations. There were two postings that "kinda sorta" looked like a title that related to his CR2.0 discussion topic. I clicked on one of them and read it. This blog posting was not about international educational technology organizations, per se.

Since I always keep a time record for my professional development journal, I looked up to discover that I already spent an hour trying to find the relevant blog posting, so I stopped there. While I was happy to spend this time to help a colleague, it appears that I was not successful. I did not find his original blog, so I could not add to his database he was hoping to build.

While the intended consequence of my initial adventure did not occur, the unintended consequence was more valuable. I received an extremely important aha moment and discovered that some key organizational tools, such as tag clouds or titles with ALL relevant key tags, can make or break the viability of our blog posts. This is knowledge that any of us might use to enhance our own blogs.

Belatedly, I discovered that while my "lack of tags" thesis may be partially correct, the larger concern was appropriate access to the content of his blog. I found a table of contents in the archives, and so I had to click on Archives to access the list of postings. None of the blog postings that I could see mentioned the key words: international educational technology organizations. I looked around for some other way to easily refine my search, for instance a tag cloud for his blog postings. I didn't find one.

It seems that my colleagues' blog is set up to increase click statistics, but accessibility is a more critical concern because it brings people back to your blog. Quick access has special relevance for those bloggers who direct you to read a particular blog posting.

Why do we use links in our postings? I think we use links to improve ease of access to relevant data and keep the reader interested in the topic we are discussing.

In the end, my colleague gave me the opportunity to increase his Technorati rating and include an excellent topic for my own blog posting. BTW, I discovered that the missing tag was world. I did finally find the appropriate blog posting on developing a database for international educational technology organizations....I think;D

What started as a journey to provide a list of international educational technology organizations became a constructivist search for relevance. As a result, I learned some valuable lessons that I will use.

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