2 articles Tag authentic audience

Finding My Audience

Recently at a PD session one of my colleagues asked me how he should promote his website. He had just developed his own website and wanted to know how he could spread the word that he had a meaningful place for educators to come. He wanted people all around the world to see it.

This was a hard question to answer as I feel I’m still searching for the answer to this question myself. My online persona has really developed over the last 12 months but I still feel I have a long way to go. I went from writing a blog that no one looked at, let alone commented on and after a few months, I nearly gave up. I really had reservation about writing and sharing when nobody was actually reading my work. I monitored my traffic using Google Analytics, a very comprehensive and amazingly free tool that helps track everything about the traffic that is coming to your site. You can find out where in the world your traffic is coming from, what platform they are using (Mac is winning for me on 52% of my total traffic), what browser people are accessing my site from (Safari coming in victorious with a 40% share), what percentage of traffic is new traffic, how long the average page view is, what is the most accessed page and the list goes on.

 

My first few weeks of writing on my blog, my traffic peaked at 13 visitors in one day.

 

I find now that slowly, my results are increasing. But why? I post more, which really helps I think. But I also think it’s my other online accounts that I link to and from that also help. Having a Twitter, Flickr, Vimeo, Slideshare, Google+ and Diigo accounts with the same username have all helped drive more traffic to my site in some form or another. I’ve develop an online persona, ‘Mister Norris’ and I think it’s started to help bump up the traffic that comes into my site. Plus now I’m getting comments, retweets and track backs to posts I have created. For me, these are all how I measure the success of my site.

Another way I have found that helps develop more followers on Twitter and more traffic to my site (I think Twitter friends and site traffic go hand in hand) is actual face to face meetings with people. If you have that real world, physical relationship then an online one feels more natural and more likely to comment on what you are saying online. Meeting people at PD sessions, presenting PD sessions, our amazing COETAIL meetings, etc. have all helped me build real world relationships which have stemmed to online relationships, which I find are much more meaningful relationships and authentic audiences.

So this is what I can recommend but I’m curious, how do you reach your audience and drive an authentic, organic audience to your site? Leave a comment below with your experiences. I’m sure I’ve got a lot to learn!

Why Open Online Digital Portfolios?

Going forward this year, onward and upward, I have the very large goal of each student from Grade 3 to 7 having their own online portfolio. I think this is a great way for students to showcase their work as well as reflect on their learning. I also think it is very important for students to have an authentic audience which I hope will also increase the quality of their work. Another benefit is that parents can keep track of their child’s learning and know what is happening in each class and what is being submitted to the teachers by their children. Last but not least, if the student uses it to reflect and not just display, it promotes higher order thinking skills such as analyzing, evaluating and creating.

I was searching to see what other schools and students were doing with their online student portfolios. I managed to find a range of very interesting portfolios that were developed by students in the same age range as the students I plan to develop portfolios with. Here are just a few great examples:

 

www.emilysblog3s.edublogs.org

Emily is a student from NSW, Australia (my home state) who started her portfolio when she was in Grade 3. She is now in Grade 4 and during that time she managed to win the coveted Edublogs prize for ‘Best Student Blog’ which is an amazing achievement, especially considering her competition. It’s also great to see her aunty and grandparents have left comments and are keeping up to date with her learning.

 

www.blogs.isb.ac.th/haleygrey

Hayley is an 11 year old students from the International School of Bangkok. She not only displays lots of her work, but also seems to spend a lot of time developing those higher order thinking skills by including a lot of reflections in her portfolio.

 

www.erich4.edublogs.org

Eric from British Columbia in Canada started his portfolio when he was in Grade 6 and is an avid writer. He shares a lot of his stories on his blog and receives feedback on his stories from all over the world.

 

These are just some great examples of open online student portfolios, you can find many others from many other parts of the world just by doing a simple search. A good place to start looking is the nominated Edublogs entries.

While researching my idea of open online portfolios, it was interesting to read other educators opinions. Jeff Delp, a K-12 administrator wrote a great article outlining the benefits of blogs in education on his portfolio Making Molehills out of Mountains. In the article he outlines six main benefits of open online portfolios including reflection, inquiry, feedback and an authentic audience.

Kim Cofino, a technology and learning coach at Yokohama International School is also an advocate of online portfolios. She sees the organization and easy of use as just a few of the many benefits. She has used them at a range of schools she has taught at. She also outlines her opinions on her digital portfolio, Always Learning.

All in all, I am very excited at the possibilities ahead and have already seen some students take the idea and run with it. Some students have already contributed a lot to their portfolios, all completed in their own time without being ask to by the teachers which I think is amazing. It encourages the notion of life long learners and that education shouldn’t just exist behind school door between nine AM and three PM, learning should always be happening, all day every day for the rest of our lives.