About Marcus O'Donnell

Head, Digital Pedagogies, Learning Teaching and Curriculum, University of Wollongong

Make sure your YouTube videos are public before embedding

To begin with YouTube will upload your videos with private as the default setting.  This means only you can view them. Unfortunately you only get the “This video is private” message once you attempt to watch it.

This is also true if you embed a private video on WordPress. YouTube will let you capture the embed code and publish the video to WordPress where it will look like it has published correctly but when you click to play it you will get a “This video is private” message.

Always check that your videos play even if they look right.

The screen cast below explains how to change the privacy settings on YouTube.

 

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Making good comments

Blogs can be used for a range of different things but their nature as web-based publications is that they are always part of a larger web ecology. Linking to others is a key practice of good blogging.

One way to build connections – link your blog to other blogs doing similar things – is to leave good quality comments with on other blogger’s posts. We will sometimes be doing this as part of class activities but it is also a very valuable thing to do as part of your own blogging practice.

Grammar Girl who is a wealth of information and tips on so many things, has a a great set of tips about how to make your comments count. As she says: “comments are a new art form” and increasingly from Facebook, to blogging, to YouTube commenting and interacting with quick responsive thoughts is a key skill we need to practice.

I think her two most valuable insights are “Provide Context” and “Make a point”. And they are related.

Comments should be short (another of GG’s points) so don’t analyse the whole post cut to the chase about something where you can really provide insight and add value. Become part of the value adding set of connections the web creates.

Which is why adding context to your comment is important – say what you are commenting on – is it a point in post, is it a point made by a fellow commenter. If it is a tangential point briefly explain your connecting thought process. We know that people scan when they read web copy, – i.e. run through thinks quickly picking out bits –  so make it easy for people coming to your comments to make sense of how they fit into the flow.

Read the whole article (both pages!) it’s a good resource.

 

Resizing photos in WordPress

Making sure your images are the right size can make a big difference to the impact of your blog

It’s clear in the example’s below that the second version looks a lot cleaner and more professional than the first.

In the first version:

  • the subjects faces are barely discernible;
  • it too much blank space surrounding it; and
  • the caption extends over too many lines because of the width.

The second version matches the theme’s standard column width and sits comfortably in the frame.

Some themes insert smaller images by default but you can change this very easily – either when you upload the image (generally choose “Large”) or after you have inserted the image into the post.

The video at the bottom of this post explains how.

IMG_1617

The University of Wollongong Team at the recent Transforming Promotion Practices Conference in Melbourne…13 Universities gathered to talk about reward and recognition

Lorem Ipsum is simply dummy text of the printing and typesetting industry. Lorem Ipsum has been the industry’s standard dummy text ever since the 1500s, when an unknown printer took a galley of type and scrambled it to make a type specimen book. It has survived not only five centuries, but also the leap into electronic typesetting, remaining essentially unchanged. It was popularised in the 1960s with the release of Letraset sheets containing Lorem Ipsum passages, and more recently with desktop publishing software like Aldus PageMaker including versions of Lorem Ipsum

IMG_1617

The University of Wollongong Team at the recent Transforming Promotion Practices Conference in Melbourne…13 Universities gathered to talk about reward and recognition

Lorem Ipsum is simply dummy text of the printing and typesetting industry. Lorem Ipsum has been the industry’s standard dummy text ever since the 1500s, when an unknown printer took a galley of type and scrambled it to make a type specimen book. It has survived not only five centuries, but also the leap into electronic typesetting, remaining essentially unchanged. It was popularised in the 1960s with the release of Letraset sheets containing Lorem Ipsum passages, and more recently with desktop publishing software like Aldus PageMaker including versions of Lorem Ipsum

 

The importance and versatility of hyperlinks

An excellent use of Storify

The Guardian are using Storify to collect links and tweets about Facebook’s billion dollar acquisition of Instagram. It’s a great way to collect a continuously updated set of links to a question that is sure to generate a lot of web commentary in the next 24 hours.

Facebook’s Mark Zuckerburg has announced that his company will acquire photo-sharing app Instagram for a whopping $1bn in cash and shares. Why did Facebook pay such a massive price? We’re collecting insights and observations from industry observers, reporters and readers. Tweet us @GuardianUS, or toss in your thoughts in the comments below (Why did Facebook buy Instagram for a whopping $1bn? | Technology | guardian.co.uk.)

Creating in-text hyperlinks

Linking to other blogs, media reports, videos, images and references is at the heart of what blogging is all about.

Blogging is at a fundamental level hyperlinking.

Creating a link in WordPress is easy – in the post window, highlight the text that you want to represent the link then click on the little chain link icon in the toolbar as shown above. This will bring up a pop-up window. Paste the “url,” the web address copied from your browser, of the destination link into the field marked “Url” leave the “Title” field blank and click “add link”. WordPress creates the necessary code without you having to worry. If you make a mistake and want to remove the link: highlight the linked text and click on the broken chain link icon next to the icon circled in the image above.

Always use this way of embedding a link in a phrase of the text NEVER put a URL in your blog post as unformatted text.

The main rule about creating a good link is that the linked text should be a brief (usually 2-3 words – never more than five) phrase that can be read and understood independently from the rest of the text and that conveys something about the information at the other end of the text.

This is because research shows that users scan web pages rather than read them thoroughly so key elements that stand out – like coloured or underlined linked text – should convey as much as possible independent of adjoining text.

So for example in the above text I have linked to a report by web usability expert Jacob Nielson on how people read on the web – I have linked to the phrase which indicates the take home message of that page, rather than to the generic phrase “research shows”.

For example if I was linking to this post from somewhere else I would write:

Marcus O’Donnell has some useful tips about creating effective hyperlinks in your blog posts.

NOT

Marcus O’Donnell has some useful tips about creating effective hyperlinks in your blog posts.

This link text effectively tells the reader what information they will get when they click on the link but it is too long therefore it is distracting and can’t be scanned and comprehended quickly by the reader.

NOT

Marcus O’Donnell has some useful tips about creating effective hyperlinks in your blog posts. Click here to read more

This is a classic mistake. It gives no information when it is read alone and cannot be scanned by a quick reader.

NOT

Marcus O’Donnell has some useful tips about creating effective hyperlinks in your blog posts.

Again the information in the link text is none specific when read in isolation. Useful tips about what?

ABSOLUTELY NOT

Marcus O’Donnell has some useful tips (https://uowjournalism.wordpress.com/2012/04/02/creating-in-text-hyperlinks/) about creating effective hyperlinks in your blog posts.

This is just messy and does not utilise the capacity of hyperlinking code.

Be careful of the text you choose as the link text. There are no absolute hard and fast rules about this but there are some good general principles:

  • Links text should be between one and four words;
  • Your link text should should tell the reader something about where they are going so don’t use generic “click here” commands;
  • Try to make the link text as specific as possible;
  • Always link to the original if you are including a quote or making a comment about an online article or blog post;
  • Don’t over link: ask what links will really help your reader understand your post;
  • Don’t link to the obvious, or the non-specific such as the home page of a mainstream media website – link directly to the article concerned.