SEO for Beginners

SEO for BeginnersI have to thank Daragh Walsh for clarifying quite a few things about search engine optimisation on websites and pages. Each of his lectures was relevant, to the point and easy to follow. By the end of each lecture I knew what the benefit of doing it was and I knew what to do to apply the knowledge to my own situation. I didn’t particularly need the lecture on search engine optimisation for business sites but I learned a lot about how Google sets this up and so how it is working or not working for me when I am looking for a local business online. Daragh actually took the time during the course of the lectures to explain how to use the comments and questions sidebar in the Udemy courses. He is the first of the four lecturers to do that even thought they all invite you to use the question section. It is a good idea to have the sidebar but it is a better idea to explain its use and maybe each of the Udemy courses needs the first lecture to be that and one which is not counted towards the course but a generic explanation so that everyone knows what to do and is consistent in their approach. It might also help to suggest ways of using it effectively. This is my fourth free course so I have one more to do. In the four courses I have had different English language accents. This is great for anyone learning English but it is also great to see that Udemy is drawing on human resources from all over the world. In terms of what Daragh said in his SEO for Beginners , it builds authority and one of the most useful pieces of information I gleaned form this course was how to check and build authority on sites/pages. My next course is going to be Web Design for Web Developers: Build Beautiful Websites! by Jonas Schmedtmann and I am looking forward to it.

Wireframing

Wireframing with Balsamiq I have just completed  Wireframing with Balsamiq on Udemy. It was a shorter course than the others I have done . Leon Barnard was clear, effective and focussed one hundred percent on the content. As someone who delivers online courses , his voice is soothing, he does not clutter the information with anything other than what he is delivering. From that point of view it was very interesting for me to do this course. Balsamiq is the industry standard and traditional software for Wireframing . It is very effective for building mock ups for applications and websites because they are a stripped down version of how the site or app will function. Its built in capacity to make changes across elements would be effective and the fact it is all in a tool or button makes the job easier. It was good he used a music site to demonstrate its effectiveness because most of us are familiar with how we set up our online music libraries and so he could connect the new knowledge to something we knew. I used to build sites with Dreamweaver and that was very good at the time. This is so much easier.

There is other Wireframing software you can use and creativeblog gives an overview of the paid and free ones. The two free ones I really like are the Firefox add-on Pencil which you can read about here on GitHub. It is very easy to install as an add-on. The other one I like is Framebox because it has a very clear interface and you can work very cleanly with it.

Mock ups are the way to go when you want to present things visually. It will give you an idea of how to set things out on your page or slide even if you don’t want to build at app or website. It centres on improving visual literacy.It will also give you an awareness of which sites and apps to use to deliver information because you will understand the notion of clarity of delivery of information. With larger presentation projects it is good to create a mock up of how you are going to organise that information on a screen. That was another thing Leon Barnard was very good at. His screen was never cluttered or confusing. You always knew what he was doing and what he wanted you to focus on.

That is my 3rd free Udemy course so now I am down to my last two. The next one I am doing is SEO on site optimisation. You can never know enough about optimising your online site. This one is by Google so it ought to be valuable.

BCS User Experience Certificate

UX Certificate I have just completed my second Udemy course. I chose the Introduction to the BCS Foundation Certificate. .BCS is the British Chartered Institute for IT because the course not only explains what is in the certificate testing with BCS, it also explains clearly some of the basic ideas behind approaching User Experience. I found the course enjoyable and to reframe my knowledge through an UX lens was both helpful and interesting. In an ICT world then it really ought to be basic knowledge for teachers and anyone who is going to deliver content via technology. I had plenty of ideas as I was doing the course. I found I could manage it, understand it and feel as though I was benefiting from it. David Travis has a very calm, even tempered approach to delivering information and so you always feel like you are in control of the content. By the end of the course I now have plenty of solid things to follow up on and find out about so it’s a course which has inspired more learning.The other Udemy course I did was Coding for Entrepreneurs Basic with Justin Mitchell. He explained everything well but it was a dense , labour intensive course where I learned so much. I would not have called it basic! By comparison the BCS course was like swimming in calm waters. My plan is to do 5 free Udemy courses. By that time I’ll be familiar with the delivery styles, the way the courses are set up, the sorts of instructors they endorse and how content is delivered online. I really like how I can stop and start according to my mood or time availability. I can learn online for 5 minutes or 30. I choose. I like that. My next course is on wireframing which is how you do mock ups for interfaces. I am looking forward to it.

Classcraft

Classcraft is a new generation online teaching and learning experience so that teachers and students can gamify their content and tasks. It is certainly worth a look. There is help on the Net and YouTube videos are starting to multiply as more people are using it. You can never say yes or no to online learning sites until you have had a chance to see what they do, what they represent and how they work with your students. Two things I know from experience :1. Students love trialling apps and software and giving constructive feedback. Nothing engages them more than to be product testers. I’ve used  customised feedback docs or Edmettle to gather feedback but you could use the Google education suite. 2. Students generally respond very enthusiastically to online learning sites especially if they are available across devices which Classcraft is.

Classcraft has been developed by a teacher and trialled by  teachers . There has been some considerable high level educational thinking and consultation which has gone into this. You can use the free version and then the premium content is very reasonably priced. It is a sound idea to allow teachers and students a chance to try before they buy. Even so, the free version appears to be very workable and may be all you need. I can see this suiting some teachers and some content better than others. It is really important for teachers to be able to experience and play with things like this. It would change delivery and classroom operation. It would support flipped learning and it would move us towards allowing people to teach and learn across time and space. We are getting rid of those borders and boundaries so that teaching and learning can just occur anywhere at anytime. The school based lessons are where you pull it all together and personalise it. People need to belong to and connect in the real world and take those skills and experiences and grow them online.

Some teachers would find this approach difficult at first because they are not gamers and not familiar with games. Nor should they be, necessarily. Other teachers will lock right into this and grow it in surprising ways. Everyone, though, should understand the pedagogy of gamifying a classroom because it is literally a game changer with the students now in schools. Like anything , though, there needs to be discussion and a balanced way of utilising and introducing new ideas and theories.

There is a review of Classcraft on edshelf.

Make a good You Tube video

With nearly 95 000 hits on this video alone and nearly 65 000 subscribers to his You Tube channel, then it is probably worth listening to what rickvanman has to say about making basic You Tube videos. My plan for 2016 is to improve my video making skills and work on my coding. Those are the next logical steps for me. Students always appreciate well made videos for learning and they value the time and skills you put into it. It also means you have a bank of resources for students who are absent for whatever reason and for students who want to fast track themselves. It is coming very much to the point where we are personalising learning. Students absorb material very quickly from moving images. The dark back drop on this one makes a point. You focus more on what is being said and it highlights there is a real person talking and sharing information with you. The tips are:

Be concise
Use good lighting
Use an external mic
Keep the music quiet so as not to distract
Avoid camera shake
Cut out the erms and ahhs
Keep it fast moving, fast paced and flowing…get on with it!

It is all practice and awareness raising. It is testing the water and building skills so you can deliver confidently.It is also questioning and assessing whether you actually want to put yourself in a video or just create content videos which are relevant.  Making a good video is something students need to learn too since theirs is very much an online sharing and collaborative world. They need to be able to have a positive, effective online image and style.

I can make videos which, from the feedback I have received, are helpful and useful to students. I want to lift myself up now and get even better at producing video content. It is the direction we are going in and no video can replace a good teacher but  videos are part and parcel of learning and teaching now because there are more and more sites which share video content. We are connected. rickvanman can teach anyone anywhere  in the world if they want to listen.