Work

Three ways to get more subscribers to your YouTube channel

Having a YouTube channel for your business or (ahem) your ‘personal brand’ is quite the thing. People watch more and more videos online and younger audiences especially are much more likely to watch YouTube than TV.

So being on YouTube is key to your to the prominence of your business (and helps with your search profile too).

And good content is key to that, but what can you do to make sure that, when you spend all that time making the best videos you can, you’ve actually made the most of that and you’ve optimised your channel and

Bear these tips in mind:

 

Develop your audience through a more consistent upload schedule

Having a more consistent upload schedule will allow your subscribers to regularly see your content on their homepage and subscription feed, allowing for a more regular presence and an increased watchtime. In return, this increased watchtime would help the ranking of the content in the algorithm as this is a core metric.

Perhaps could think about tailoring different formats or  series that you could upload on a regular basis – regular interviews or scheduled updates on industry issues.

See also: How to create a YouTube channel

Optimize the thumbnails and titles of the videos

Entice viewers to click on your videos through compelling thumbnails (the small pictures that people see which are supposed to entice . Custom thumbnails are one of the best ways to make your videos stand out and get viewers watching – 90% of the best-performing videos on YouTube have custom thumbnails.

For the titles, remember that YouTube is one of the largest search engines in the world. Creating keyword-rich titles and descriptions can help viewers find your videos through YouTube Search and increase watch time – a video’s title, thumbnail, and description actually work together to tell a story about the content.

Here are some best practices for titles:

  • Include descriptive and relevant terms toward the beginning of a title.
  • Display branding and episode numbers toward the end of a title.
  • Keep titles on the short side so they don’t get cut-off due to high character count.

 

Understand where the audience is coming from to leverage your traffic sources

Knowing where your traffic is coming from is key and making sure you’re using YouTube’s search facility to your advantage. Using a tool like Google Trends, can help you understand what people are searching for on YouTube to be able to tap into these searches and position the your channel as a hub for such content, planning around relevant events and trends to enhance the discoverability of the channel. You can learn search tips here.

 

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Education

The timesaving guide to bringing technology into schools

Consider this your straightforward digital guide that will get any school on the path to effective technology integration.

Getting Started

Any educational organisation is looking to see how digital media will disrupt its organisational model. And it will quickly come to the conclusion that it needs, in part at least, in order to be able to offer education across digital media and, in doing so, create different models for education delivery beyond the classroom. It needs to transform the way it looks at delivering education, not just to offer a digital alternative to the traditional model, but also to give students exposure to mechanisms of learning they will use throughout their adult working lives.

There are a number of models of blended learning, but it’s more a matter of the mindset – to allow different schools to adopt different approaches – than it is about being prescriptive. But there are useful approaches to share:

There will be no one-size model for every school to adopt wholesale – the schools will be on a spectrum of digitisation – from fairly basic adoption to a full-scale blended model. To succeed, digital must be a part of the way you do things, and not a separate team or workstream which is all too easy for the rest of the organisation to ignore. This is, therefore, about embedding digital across the whole school, so that, within, say, five years, your school is an organisation which is digital by default.

 

Photo by Marta Markes on Unsplash

The Ingredients

To create a digital organisation, there must be a number of key ingredients:

Platform: A digital platform that allows for your school to adapt it to your own needs, which is intuitive for the user while containing the functional needs of parents, student and teachers

Content: Content on that platform that meets and anticipates those needs. This content will come from the curation of quality content on the web, the signing of school-wide licencing deals and the creation of bespoke school content (which may have re-sale value)

Format: A policy on formatting which understand the digital habits of pupils, teachers and parents

Digital PD: A program of digital professional development for teachers which encourages them to adopt digital methodologies and encourages them to do so.

IT needs: A program of needs analysis with your IT team to enable them to equip schools with the capacity to deliver digital education and the creation of digital delivery programs for each school.

Digital curriculum: A program to develop a digital curriculum for pupils to set accepted standards across the network (with the provision for different standards for different schools models) on devices, formats, storage, behaviour and so on.

Data: The long-term adoption of better data gathering on attendance, performance, achievement etc to create data profiles of pupils to better personalise and incentivise their education.

– Digital culture: The creation of a culture of innovation and experimentation to allow the digitally savvy to develop their own digital work, with a network to share that best practice

– Partnerships: Your school is new to the market – to fast-track understanding, you could make partnerships with companies large and small to facilitate speedier delivery of projects

– Profitability: Digital content is unlikely to make huge profits, and that may not be the driving force for your school, but there will be instances where you can re-format content and take it to markets outside of the school network to make some money (to be reinvested) and build a reputation for digital delivery and innovation

– Reputation: A newly digitised school needs to change its external reputation to one of a digitally aware company. Much of this comes from delivering rather than talking about it, but you must look to change the way you present ourselves. This starts with the websites, but also includes your presence at conferences, your range of contacts, your external messaging.

See also: 5 digital tools (and tips) that will help new school leaders

Photo: Unsplash


 
 
 
 
 

Fundamentals To Consider

As with any digital media project, there are certain fundamentals which have to be thought through:

1) Audience – user-centred learning

Both students and teachers will better engage with digital curriculum resources that explicitly address the target audience profile and the intended objectives and that are aligned with curriculum and assessment standards.

To ensure your resource is focused on the target learner:

  • Describe who the target user is (eg background, age, language)
  • Take into account their prior knowledge of the subject
  • Define the learning objectives of the resource, aligning them with the relevant curriculum content descriptions and achievement standards
  • Be aware of the need to be inclusive (eg by taking into account l earning styles, cultures, disabilities, genders)
  • Consider how the resource is likely to be used (eg alone, as part of a group, with or without teacher support)
  • Plan the context, content and behaviour around engaging the target user (eg visuals, interactivity, humour, media types).

2) Interactivity

Effective digital learning design uses interactivity to engage the user in a meaningful activity with a purpose.

Digital curriculum resources offer opportunities for varied interactive experiences, enabling learners to:

  • Make choices and decisions
  • Inquire, investigate and problem solve
  • Gain feedback on progression and achievement
  • Interpret information and apply new knowledge in a range of contexts
  • Develop and present final products
  • Communicate and collaborate.

3) Engagement

Engagement and motivation are achieved through a mix of aesthetic, technical and educational design.

Things to consider that are central to engaging learning design:

  • How to achieve a high level of interaction (for individual learners, between groups of learners and between learners and the teacher)
  • What sort of innovation and creativity will stimulate highly technology-literate learners
  • The needs of teachers or facilitators at all levels and stages of schooling and in different learning areas, including those new to the online environment
  • The requirements of the learning environment itself (online or classroom-based)
  • How the resource is likely to be used (eg alone, as part of a group, with or without teacher support)
  • The type of content likely to engage the target user (eg visuals, interactivity, humour, media types).

4) Structured Learning

In digital curriculum resources, a structured learning approach can help consolidate the process of learning by:

  • Scaffolding student learning
  • Engaging the learner at various levels of complexity
  • Assessing learning as it proceeds
  • Supporting communication and collaboration
  • Using authentic situations.

  5) Education Value

If a digital curriculum resource is not relevant to the content and achievement outcomes identified in the curriculum, teachers and students will not use it, no matter how interactive and engaging it may be.

Where applicable, the resource should be based on an acknowledged pedagogical framework.

Things to consider when planning the value of the digital curriculum resource:

  • What learners will achieve by using the resource
  • Whether the objectives are relevant to a specific curriculum or pedagogical framework
  • How assessment can be embedded in the learning design.

6) Pedagogy

Formalise and share the digital pedagogy with teachers. Don’t restrict it to blended learning schools or the highly digitised, this must (a) come from the top and (b) be shared throughout the organisation. This would also include the systematic delivery of research findings (both ‘for’ digital learning and against

7) Building Skills

Create a series of ICT/digital training modules within the school’s existing PD framework to build skills and confidence in the use and creation of digital materials. This would nee d:

  • A skills audit to assess the general level of understanding of digital and to pick out exemplars amongst the current professionals to use as leaders and examples to the others.
  • Training resources and materials (digital of course), to be used in PD programs. These may even be distributed/sold outside of the the school network, to create revenue streams and show your school as a leader in the field. These may also be created in partnership with other organisations
  • Develop materials especially for non-ICT and non-science teaching to drive digital learning away from the ‘easy wins’
  • ‘Buy in’ digital professional development materials from third party organisations
  • A series of workshops and seminars to create and discuss best practice
  • A series of guest speakers to present and discuss broader digital issues and practices
  • Strong assessment tools to show whether teachers are progressing

8) Sharing Best Practices

Develop ‘lighthouse’ schools that show off the best in breed in digital provision. This could include partnerships with corporations (Apple for example) to deliver such excellence and to do so publicly.

Establish ‘digital champions’ – a teacher (or two) in each school (ideally not the ICT guy) who will be the evangelist and supporter for digital teaching. Allow other teachers to sit in on their lessons to pick up tips to apply within their own lessons.

Establish a communication network across the school to facilitate cross-school professional relationships aimed at building digital capacity.

Embed the best digital work in public facing websites – both the open (marketing) sites and the VLE environment

9) Embedding Skills

You should think about appointing a specialist digital learning coach in your school – training up existing staff but freeing them up to work on the wider brief, and ensuring their skills and knowledge are embedded with the wider school body.

10) Innovation

The key to the success of the digital element of a School of the Future is constant iteration and innovation. The platform that waits for the next version every two years; the formatting protocols which don’t change and the awareness of the possibilities of the innovations brought about by others.

You have to encourage your school – teachers, but also parents and pupils, to use digital to innovate. Innovation is not top-down and is not (always) controlled. You need to give teachers the opportunity to create content, create products and deliver them in new ways. Some will fail, but you need to be more relaxed about that.

11) Embedding a digital culture

You need to set out how you do this in three ways:

i) Encouragement

The best licence to do something is to go ahead and do it. You need to encourage the development of new approaches. You could bring in a series of guest speakers to speak to both the teaching and student bodies; set up ‘hack days’ with local developers to build new teaching tools; contribute and even host conferences on digital learning – become part of an educational digital learning community. This kind of collaboration is also a licence to individual teachers.

ii) Tools & Technical Help

You can’t do a hack day if the wifi doesn’t work, if there’s no in-house APIs or content to work with or if there’s no support. Teachers are there to teach and while some will innovate, you will also need a small enclave of professional and amateur coders and developers to help develop the platform, create or re-format content and so on. These would best be pulled together by a semi-formal group of ICT digital teachers. It already exists and can be put to good use.

iii) Boundaries

Teachers will need to know when they’ve crossed a line – exposing too much pupil data to public view, perhaps, or crossing boundaries on social media. The boundaries are exactly the same on digital as off-line, but a working document about what you expect (including social media policy especially) would be a useful way of making sure that problems encountered are ones of implementation not privacy law…

And finally you need luck, patience, persistence and a little nerve. Good luck…

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Work

How to permanently delete your Facebook account

Recent revelations about the way Facebook data has been used in the past, might make you think again about your happy, innocent use of the social media giant. The increasing understanding that we don’t quite get everything that happens to our personal data means that many are feeling increasingly uneasy about it.

At the very least: Don’t do quizzes on Facebook.

But if you want to get off Facebook, what do you do? Because it’s not exactly intuitive…

How to deactivate your Facebook account:

Doing it this way, means you can return to Facebook when you want, if you can’t cure your addiction to it.

So take the following steps:

  1. Click the downward arrow at the top right of any Facebook page
  2. Select “Settings”
  3. Click “Security” in the left column
  4. Choose “Deactivate your account”, then follow the steps to confirm

If you deactivate your account your profile won’t be visible to other people on Facebook and you’ll be hidden from Facebook search, but some information, such as messages you sent to friends, may still be visible to others.

You can reactivate your account at any time by logging in with your email and password. Your profile will be restored in its entirety.

How to permanently delete your account

If you really want to go, you can request to have your account permanently deleted. But once this has happened, it won’t be possible to reactivate your account or retrieve anything you’ve shared on your profile.

So before you take this step, you may want to download a copy of your information from Facebook:

  1. Click the downward arrow at the top right of any Facebook page
  2. Select “Settings”
  3. Click on the link at the bottom of the main menu that says “Download a copy of your Facebook data”.

Then you need to go to https://www.facebook.com/help/delete_account, click on “Delete my account”, then follow the steps to confirm.

It can take up to 90 days for Facebook to delete all of the things you’ve posted, like your photos, status updates or other data stored in backup systems, but while this is happening, it is inaccessible to other people using the social network.

And remember that some of the things you do on Facebook aren’t stored in your personal account. A message to a friend, for example, will remain even after you delete your account, so you will need to contact the recipients of you want that removed too.

 

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Education Work

How to stop the gender gap in tech and coding

There’s a problem in our education systems, leading to a problem in our tech industry – the continued perception that coding is for boys…

When I was younger I wanted to be a games designer. But I didn’t know anything about engineering or coding and for some reason they seemed like impossible subjects, designed for people with completely different brains to mine. I started to think this career path wasn’t for me at all. I’d never heard of any female games designers or engineers and it felt unlikely that it would ever be possible for someone like me to build games.

Despite the introduction of the new UK computing curriculum and the rise in after-school coding clubs, such as CoderDojo and Code Club most girls’ perception of coding and engineering appears to have stayed the same.

This issue is serious and hasn’t been ignored. A multitude of campaigns have been launched, such as Google’s Made With Code program and the European Ada Awards, and more advice is being provided on science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) focused careers to encourage more girls to code. However, the fact that only 14% of the STEM workforce in the UK is made up of women suggests that these measures aren’t having much of an impact.

Why, in the 21st Century, are interesting, fascinating subjects such as these not appealing to female students? Only a quarter of girls aged 8-12 say they know anything about engineering, and those that do say it’s ‘too difficult’ and ‘more for boys’* – evidence to suggest that there is social stigma attached.

As a society, we seem to be investing far more time and money trying to achieve gender equality for adults when we should be addressing the root of the problem and understanding why there’s a gender equality gap to begin with. Are imposed gender stereotypes from a young age the problem?

Although obvious adult gender biases are seen as outrageous in our society (see the very funny responses to the ‘Bic’ pens for women campaign), the gender biases children experience on a daily basis are considered to be harmless and acceptable.

Why is this? As adults we are sensitive to sexism yet the majority of us don’t see a problem in allowing young children to grow up believing that boys and girls are very different.

Do separate toys and games, and comments such as ‘boys will be boys and girls will be girls’ really make sense in a world where we’re striving to achieve gender equality?

To eradicate sexism and close the gender equality gap we need to do more than invest millions of pounds in ways to make life more fair and equal for adults. We need to try and eliminate centuries of cultural conditioning which has made the vast majority of adults and children alike believe that men and women are essentially a different species with completely different interests, rather than people with very similar needs.

See also: The Game That Saves Kittens and Teaches Coding

I believe we don’t recall being treated differently at a young age – let alone consider it damaging – because for the most part, boys and girls are treated differently without even realising it. An example of this sort of conditioning is often seen when parents and teachers unnoticingly encourage girls to internalise their low expectations – by saying things like ‘don’t do that, you’ll get your dress dirty’ and ‘nevermind, you’re better at other subjects’. Girls are brought up to play it safe, whilst boys are often told to ‘try harder’. This conditioning is also present in children’s toys, books, TV shows, games, and the advertising that surrounds us too. Sadly, it makes more sense financially to market cooking sets and princesses to girls, and superheroes and cars to boys.

All you need to do is type ‘Girls’ Toys’ and ‘Boys’ Toys’ into Google and look at the images in the results, to see how apparent and perhaps disturbing this is. You will immediately notice a sea of pink for the girls – cooking sets, dolls houses, makeup kits and barbies. Replace ‘Toys’ with ‘Games’ and the imbalance is even more obvious. Free online games for young girls include ‘Barbie’s Fashion Dream Store’, ‘Miraculous Hero Kiss’ and ‘My Pretty Pedicure’.

See also: The Answer To The Skills Crisis May be More Obvious Than You Think

What can we do to try and solve this problem? Toys that challenge and encourage children without pandering to gender biases is one way. Some great examples of this can be seen with games such as Technology Will Save Us and GoldieBlox.

My team and I have created ‘Erase All Kittens’ (E.A.K.) – a web-based, Mario-style platform game designed to inspire both girls and boys to learn practical coding skills, whilst leveraging their creativity and critical thinking skills at the same time.

In E.A.K., children from the age of eight can edit real code that governs the game’s environment, enabling them to build and fix levels as they play, using the languages HTML and CSS. Our aim is to eliminate the fear that many girls initially have of coding, and empower them with practical skills through a highly gamified and story driven approach. Parents can also spend time playing alongside their children, also providing them with an opportunity to learn.

Interestingly, it’s been found that girls’ grades in science and maths correlate directly with the level of anxiety that they have about those subjects. I believe that gender biases in our society are influencing girls to want to look and be perfect – and perhaps as a result they are not as courageous or willing to try and fail in the same way that boys are. This leads to fewer girls taking an interest in STEM subjects which require those characteristics, in turn leading to less women pursuing careers in these fields.

Gender-biased products are always going to exist – but at least now there are more options. If we truly want girls and boys to grow up to have equal opportunities, it’s essential that we place more importance on treating and encouraging them in a similar way from a young age.

See also: Schools Need To Use Code To Empower, Not To Pigeonhole

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Work

Five ways to get Twitter to work for your brand

If you’re using Twitter to promote yourself or your brand, its very difficult to get yourself noticed in a morass of bots, spam and fake news. But there is still worth in using Twitter.

 It’s a way of building awareness of what you’re about and what you do. But proving your worth and your authenticity is tricky in such a space. Like singing sweetly in a pounding nightclub, you risk being drowned out.

But it’s still worth trying to get in nailed, get yourself noticed, so try these techniques…

Use hashtags
People use hashtags as a way of navigating through the mire. If you add the hashtags that are genuinely relevant to your content, then the people you want can find you. Try adding them into the flow of #content by adding the hashtags within sentences, rather than stuffing them all at the end. Doing it right can, by some estimates, boost your engagement by up to 20%.

Add photos
Adding a photo to a tweet can, according to some estimates, increase engagement by 87%, as users see the message visually as well as in writing – converting attention to engagement much more quickly and effectively. Adding gifs or embedded videos can have the same effect, and users watch the videos inside Twitter so don’t leave you to do so.

Encourage re-tweets
The way to spread the message is for it to travel beyond your followers. So encourage them to re-tweet, by producing interesting content with authority. Easier said than done, of course, and have a decent size Twitter following will improve the scalability of that, and having ‘influential’ and supportive followers will help to. But the core remains – have good things to say which people will want to repeat.

See also: 30 Twitter accounts to make you smarter

Always engage
Twitter accounts which simply broadcast their wisdom and do not respond don’t really have impact. Conversation is a much more human prospect for followers – so thanking people for sharing messages, answering peoples’ question, engaging in debates around the industry you are in or the products you deliver are all ways in which people begin to see the people behind your account and which makes them react, engage and re-tweet.

Take notice
There’s any number of Twitter management and analytics tools which will tell you what’s working and what isn’t. Use whichever you like but there’s no tool which stops the need for you to pay attention. Look at what tweets work, and do more like them. Look at which ones don’t work. Do fewer of those. Simple really…

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Work

Is Anchor the best tool to make a podcast?

Anchor says it is “The easiest way to make a podcast. Ever.” Well we will just see about that and also see if it is a good fit for you in the classroom. There are three things that make Anchor a bit different than its competition. One, there is no limit to what is hosted. That means no bandwidth limit, no storage limit and no time limit. Go crazy creators. The second thing is that you can “move” your podcast from one site to Anchor. The third thing is that it is completely free. As an educator who has relied on services before, I am a little skeptical about this one but we can discuss that later.

There are mobile apps for iOS and Android but for this post I am going to focus on the online webservice.

Getting started

Super duper easy. To create an account you can log in with your Facebook or Twitter account or sign up using an email. Before you give any info it asks if this is a new podcast or if you already have a podcast. I’ve chosen to make a new one.

Then you have to give it a name, cover art, description and add its select its category.

Then it wants your details such as email, password etc.

It is pretty standard but I like that the importance is all about the content right up front. Most places ask for your details and then start asking about what you want to create or do. Nice one Anchor.

Creating a podcast

Now that you have an account and are in Anchor wants you to start creating immediately and this is nice and simple. Check out your choices below.

  • Upload – Upload your own podcast, segment or jingle
  • Record – Record right in the app
  • Messages – People can “call in” using the Anchor app and leave voice mails that you can integrate into your podcast
  • History – A list of all your previous audio files that you create or upload to Anchor
  • Transitions – Royalty free (I’m guessing) jingles and transition sounds you can use to help make the podcast that much more professional sounding

When I first heard about Anchor I thought it was going to be one of those services where the recording has to be done inside of it. In that respect it nice to see that the teacher, students or whoever completely produce their own episodes outside of Anchor and then upload it later.

Very nice.

The record button is expected but I’m just not super excited about it. I’ve long stated that mics on laptops, tablets and smartphones tend to stink. I understand though that recording in the app is fast and easy, but that speed usually comes with a tradeoff of quality. Of course you can use a USB microphone to get some pretty great sound (check out my post Podcast crash course to get a quick overview. You could also get a USB mixer but then you’d probably be better just mixing everything in Audacity, Garageband or another DAW and then uploading the file directly to Anchor.

The history is another interesting aspect. I don’t know how many times I would love to pull in a clip of a past IT Babble podcast right into the show and there simply isn’t an easy way. This fixes this issue and it also gives you a nice overview. I wonder though if you end up with hundreds of uploads how will you find anything?

Then there are transitions. There are a surprising amount of these transition pieces. You cannot mix two or more of these jingles together but hey for a quick transition it is very easy, they sound excellent to boot.

Recording is also pretty simple, when get ready you look at this screen. You can easily select if you want to use your internal mic (please don’t) or an external connected one.

Now when you want to make a show, you don’t have to do it all in one go. You can break it up into segments. This is a good idea. It helps you and your guests distill the information you want and as for planning goes it makes a show a lot less daunting.

Let me say just say bravo Anchor.

So when you make your recordings, add your files and transitions. To do this simply click the + button and then they audio files show up on the far right hand side. You can also preview your show with the preview button. Another nice thing is that it does show you the duration. When you’re done and ready to start publishing click the Save button at the top.

Publish

Now that it is saved it is time to publish your show. This page is also nice. It lets you preview your show, add the episode name and a description. They also give you a chance to add custom artwork, so if you’re like the IT Babble podcast, you have custom artwork for each show.

If you have it saved but maybe you’re not ready to publish it no worries. Anchor offers you a way to save it as a draft or to schedule it which is very, very nice.

Once it is published you get this screen.

The statistics below are a bit misleading. I don’t think anyone can really do podcasting statistics accurately and that includes Apple. It may give you an idea of the popularity but don’t take too much stock in these statistics. You can listen to it, you get the social media buttons, the embed code and you have the option to edit the audio. Very nice.

Here is what it looks like on the web if you bring up the page – very attractive.

And if you want to listen to this ridiculous podcast you may do so below. Here is what the embed code will look like.

WordPress.com strips out most iframes which is why I couldn’t embed the Anchor player.

https://anchor.fm/it-babbles-podcast-2/embed/episodes/Test-Episode-e13dqk

Messages

If other people have the Anchor mobile app they can leave an audio message via the app and it uploads so I decided to try it out. I downloaded the app, listened to my “awesome” podcast and left a message. It must take some time to process on their end because the messages I left haven’t shown up. I am sure they will though it is just a matter of time

Should you use it

Yes! Without a question you should use it. Anchor is one of those rare platforms that lets you make it as simple or as complicated as you like. The interface is very simple and easy to navigate. There is nothing that is intimidating here at all and their support page is quite helpful.

If you want to explore podcasting this is definitely the place to start – hands down! I believe with mobile devices, Chromebooks or laptops you and a class could make podcasts with very little training (if you use USB mics or just the built in mics) and allow students to focus on the content. Don’t focus so much on the process focus more on the content – that’s where it is at.

See also: All You Really Need To Know To Make a Podcast

More from Tony De Prato here.

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Work

Six things to look for to improve your website’s SEO

Search remains key to the success of any website. Get on the front page of Google search results for the key search terms for your business, and things start to fall into place. But there’s a lot of nonsense spoken about it by those selling search engine optimisation services (SEO).

The truth is that when you, or your developers, are building your company website, if you keep an eye on these issues, you won’t go far wrong. And if this seems a bit techy, then use it as a cheat sheet to keep your web builders on their toes.

The things you need to think about to keep your website visible in search are:

 

Content
Content is king. It signals a page’s relevance to crawlers (the term given to the process by which Google investigates your page), allowing them to understand what the site is about and what keywords it should be ranking for in search engine results pages (SERPs). Unique body copy for every page is essential.

 

Site performance
The speed and weight of a site can impact heavily on the quality of experience for users and crawlers. Search engine crawlers won’t have time to crawl an entire site if it’s slow, limiting its performance in SERPs and scoring it badly for user experience.

 

Crawler efficiency
You want crawlers to be able to reach all of your pages and gain as much context from the content as possible, in order to position it well in SERPs. Maximising their efficiency when crawling your site is crucial.

See also: The step-by-step guide to making Google love your school website

User experience
Search engine crawlers increasingly attempt to recreate human user behaviour when assessing websites. In order to rank well, sites need to demonstrate logical and engaging usability.

 

Inbound links
Inbound links are still one of the dominant SEO factors influencing a website’s rankings. The quantity and quality of these links are equally significant and can help provide a good idea of your site’s SEO performance.

 

Visibility footprint
An initial look at where your site is currently ranking for keywords/themes found on your website and in its industry space.

 

Get all those right, and you’re well on the way.

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Education

How to do well in multiple choice tests (probably)

Exam time is fast approaching and a ridiculous proportion of pupils’ lives will be directed by an apparently random process of multiple choice questions. Of course, the easiest way to ace any test, multiple choice or not, is to do the revision, but even the best-prepared can come unstuck on occasion, so here’s some tips for those moments when you’re just not sure…
And keep in mind that these are far from foolproof…
 
If it’s a true/false question, favour ‘true’
You’d think that a true/false question would be 50-50, but at least one sampling test has shown that ‘true’ was the answer 56% of the time. A fact is easier to remember than an invented lie so those who devise tests are looking what you know, rather than your knowledge of what is unlikely. They will veer, perhaps unconsciously, to the ‘easier’ way of asking you to confirm something.
 
Answers will skip a pattern
Whether it is true/false or A/B/C/D multiple choice, the answers will alternate more than would be the case in a genuinely random pattern. So a ‘false’ answer is disproportionately more likely to be followed by ‘true’, or a multiple choice letter (D, perhaps) is unlikely to be the answer twice in a row. So, if you’re pretty certain on one answer but guessing the next, you’ll be better off choosing a different answer than the previous known response.
 
See also: Why parents and teachers should let students fail
 
Choose the longest answer
The longest answer on multiple-choice tests can often be the one. The right answer has to be indisputably correct so sometimes that means some qualifying language, not required by the wrong answer.  If one choice is noticeably longer than its counterparts, it’s likely to be the one you need.
 
Avoid the outliers
The examiner’s goal is to hide the right answer by offering up credible alternatives. If the choices are (A) Red roses; (B) stick insects; (C) runner beans; (D) basil. So, ask which doesn’t belong  – stick insects, obviously, as the only non-plant. Three distractions of the same type is unlikely. Of the two remaining answers, two are edible, one isn’t. So roses can be eliminated as an outlier. Of the two left, it’s noticeable that all the answers are two words, apart from basil. So, in that way, basil is an outlier. Which leaves runner beans as the answer.
Now, remember, these are only tips and knowledge is the best way to pass any multiple choice. But at some point, you’ll be stumped, so put some tactics into your guesswork. Good luck…
 

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Work

How to get the most out of a work conference

When you started your career, being sent of a conference was a treat. All those free biscuits, pens and Post-It notes. But cynicism soon kicks in and conferences become a chore. But take heart, there are ways in which that duty-trip to the back-of-beyond can actually turn out rather useful.

 

Seek out what you don’t know

You can actually learn something from a conference – the chances are if you tune in to the parts of the conference you already know about, you’ll get frustrated (because you know more). Go and listen to the presentations on things you know little about. You’re much more likely to learn something. And don’t forget, that can quite often happen at the smaller conferences… don’t just hit the big ones.

Don’t waste your time
Aside from duty, what’s the purpose of you going? Are you trying, on behalf of your company, to understand a new industry, to talk about a new product, get up-to-date on big issues? Whatever it is, have a good idea, in your head, of why on earth you’re there.

Don’t waste other people’s time either
If you approach fellow delegates and look like you’re only there for the small talk, they’ll decide they are busy. Approach them and say “I only have a couple of minutes, but I have a very quick question…’ then they’ll find the time and you’ve made contact.

See also: Why you should audit your body language in the workplace

Be identifiable
You are much more likely to have people approach you if they can tell who you are. So don’t take off that lanyard the minute you’re through the door. Keep it on so that people feel emboldened to approach you.

If it’s an overnighter – get some rest
Yes, you’re out of town, but this isn’t the time to drink warm wine at some IT company’s reception (even if it is free). Get some rest – you’ll be much better for it on day 2. And you’ll have no regrets about the things you got up to. No people you need to avoid…

Always follow up

If you meet people at an event, always follow up afterwards. Connect on LinkedIn, by all means but use email too. And explain who you were (‘We talked about selling snow in Alaska’) to avoid confusion. And be brief, the follow-up is just to open up a line of communication – fuller conversations can happen later.

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Education

Using passwords with G suite and Office 365 – in kindergarten

If you use G Suite or Office 365 with your school – those students must have a password. If you work with high school students it is easy – they can manage their own password. Heck even middle school students can manage their own passwords (most of the time). What if you want to use these services with elementary students? Now there are some questions. I’ll let you know what we have done and what seems to work for us.
Early childhood – Preschool – Kindergarten
OK – this is pretty easy. Of these two, we only give kindergarten an “account.” What we have done is made a general account (one per class) that the teacher and the teacher’s assistant use. The account has no Gmail and only access to drive for certain projects (mostly slides) that they work on. When they do work on projects the teacher usually logs into the computer or iPad and then lets them work. It takes a little time but it ensures no one has the password and the students aren’t working on it at home.
We haven’t had any issues about accounts or kids doing anything bad since they only use Google Drive while being supervised. If something does happen (a document deleted or a student working on the wrong document) it is usually caught quickly and remedied.
See also: You can now use Microsoft 365 on Chromebooks. Here’s how.
Grades 3 – 4
Now onto grades three and four. This is different. Each student has their own account. Gmail is still turned off but they have access to Google Drive and they have their own password that they know unlike grades K–2.
We used a simple combination of numbers and words and we recorded the passwords down into a chart and we kept a copy and the teachers had a copy. That way teachers could remind students what their password is or we could. Also, if a teacher ever suspected a student was up to some tomfoolery she/he could log into the student’s account and check it out first hand if they need be.
Things worked fine for a while and then the students started talking to one another and started figuring out the password conventions. Can you guess what happened next? I bet you can.
Some brave students then started to log in as other students, create documents and use these Google Docs as a kind of messaging board. It had some mean stuff about others but it wasn’t as awful as you might guess. Due to revision history we could see who wrote what and when. Those particular students were spoken to by administration and their parents were informed. Of course the file was deleted.
The fix
After the administration and the teachers sat the whole class down and talked about treating others with respect and how their Google account is not actually theirs but the schools and that they should expect no real privacy with it.
I then disabled the entire class’s Google access and rolled in and explained that impersonating another person in Google is illegal and tell them about the story of a student from my university who hacked into a girl’s email account, sent her cryptic messages (from her own account) and was investigated and arrested (true story).
Now it was time for them to create their own and unique passwords. We stressed that the only people they should is their parents, their teachers and the IT people. DON’T TELL YOUR FRIEND! Since then we haven’t really had any issues outside of a few students who have forgotten their passwords.
More from Tony DePrato here.
See also: Office 365 for education: What you need to know and don’t want to hear

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