Monday, April 27, 2009

Whats a real blog?

I read an interesting post that took a new spin on a question that I've discussed at some length in our How to Blog Course. What is a blog?

We were interested initially (the course has evolved) as teaching blogging as a type of creative writing. For us, it was related to the diary, journal, or confessional but had an episodic or serial structure and most importantly, the writing included elements of audience participation, promotion, and an involvement in the world around us. Our approach to explaining blogs was to create categories saying that there are personal blogs; there are hybrids of personal blogs with either business, advocacy, or non-profit purposes; and there are sites which use blog software as a CMS (content management system) but which aren't blogs at all.

Edward De Leau has a post in his blog Why the whole world is wrong about weblogs in which he makes the distinction between weblogs as a media format and weblogs as the technology or CMS behind a website. He belabors it at some length but his definitions are tight and his cartoons are nice.


Sunday, April 26, 2009


Learning Vocabulary Fun is the number two site on Google for "vocabulary". How to broaden it's appeal while focusing on keywords of real value to customers and advertisers. Watch this!

Vocabulary Flash Cards -
Vocabulary flash cards have traditionally been a key vocabulary teaching tool. Today, vocabulary flash games online are preferred vocabulary teaching tools to traditional vocabulary flash cards. Note that vocabulary went from nowhere on the search engines to number 13 last week by adding this discussion of flash cards versus flash games!

Expand Your Vocabulary

Word Power:-Developing your Vocabulary
GRE Verbal Tips
Improve Through Active Learning


Saturday, April 25, 2009

Craigs List - Bad Writing by a College Student

My company now posts all of our job offers on Craigs List and we do our hiring there. This response made me laugh.

Hello im a college student and have great communication skills computer skills.. i would love for this position.. if you can please contact me nicole (sic).

Pretty nice demonstration of her great communication skills, huh?


Watch me direct google towards a certain image of John Edelson. from this post about john edelson.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009 is my favorite website these days for fun spelling time. Check out these awards:

Parents' Choice Award
The Parents' Choice Foundation, the nation's leading experts on quality childrens' media and toys, recently selected the website as a Parents’ Choice Recommended Award.

Golden Lamp Awards Finalist
The Golden Lamp Awards are one of educational publishing's longest-running and most prestigious traditions. SpellingCity has been recognized as one of the four finalists in the Technology Innovations category. - Top 100 site is the number one site for homeschooling. In January, announced their top 100 websites for homeschooling in 2009. Eleven websites were selected in the language arts area among them,!

Larry Ferlazzo - Top 5 Choice for Best Online Learning Games
Larry Ferlazzo picks SpellingCity as one of the Best Online Learning Games on the web. Larry Ferlazzo is a well-known language teacher and blogger about language arts and ESL websites. He provides two rankings of the best sites: one he ranks sites himself and the other ranking is based on his readers votes. On both rankings, was selected as the second most useful learning games website on the web!

"My recent find is I love straightforward sites like this. The site is focused; it does one thing - and it does it VERY well. I did not have to join to use this FREE site, but I chose to create an account so SpellingCity would save my word lists, making it easier and faster to use the site for daily visits or weekly/monthly reviews. The site has various Spelling uses, like testing or teaching words; it also offers 8 Spelling and Vocabulary games."


Friday, April 10, 2009

Florida in Education

Florida education online is a weird online marketing theme. But oddly, it's one that I now have several lines in the water on. Florida is a big fishing state so that'll be my metaphor for today.

People need information on homeschooling in Florida. Time4Learning has a page of information to help.

People need to study to pass the vocabulary portion of the FCAT. The vocabulary education site has that need nailed.

For all your spelling needs, there is a page to help you find Florida schools on SpellingCity. Is this a page that Google will be able to use?

And while there is not yet a discussion about Florida, there is a great discussion forum for homeschooling parents.


Monday, April 06, 2009

Monetizing Content - The future of media

Newspapers are going out of businesses. Top bloggers are abandoning their industry-leading blogs as not worth the effort financially. Information wants to be free. The outlook for content and journalism is pretty bleak, if the media reports are to be believed.

I think the future is ours to make. Here's my two cents for the media people to think about.

1. Education is a very very profitable industry.
2. Journalism as supported by advertising and subscriptions is failing.
Think about it.
I'll add a third point of departure for my suggestion.
3. The classic concept of education, running from K-12 followed often by college, sometimes by advanced degrees, is pretty out-dated. There's huge opportunities for new models of education.

Rather than proceed with a macro-industry meta-discipline analysis, I'll switch to the mode of some personal advice.

If you are a journalist or blogger with a good following but a shakey business model, pay me $700 and in a three hour one-on-one seminar, I'll teach you how to keep doing what you love (assuming that's journalism or blogging), build your following, and make it into a solidly renumerative business with control in your own hands.

Sound impossible, keep reading.

Actually, I'm kidding about the $700 and the seminar. I'm too busy to do that. Although, now that I've opened up the question, it might make a good business. Here's what I'd teach you in that seminar.

1. You have an audience that admires you. They listen to you and they read from you. They think you know more than they do about something of interest to them. They read you not because they want to click on ads, they read you because of your expertise and writing skills.

2. In your fans eyes and hearts, you are a celebrity.

3. If they had a chance to learn directly from you, to take a course, many of them would like to. Not all would but many would.

4. My point is that while your routine blogging and journalism might not make enough for you to live on, you can supplement it by selling your expertise in courses to your following. This will deepen your relationship with your audience and allow you to repurpose your expertise as courseware. Frankly, writing and teaching are very closely related. Not identical but they are close.

5. Todays tools for pulling together courses using public domain or cheap learning management system and online community sessions makes the creation of these mini courses practically available to anyone. It's not quite as simple as blogging yet but within maybe 12 months, with a little effort from the right groups, it could be made that easy.

6. Depending on your following and their level of involvement with you, you should structure an online or in-person course in which you charge them a significant amount of money and they get to interact directly with you. How about:

A three week $199 course for groups of twenty with two one hour sessions each week each plus email etc. This could gross $4K each time it runs and could run 12 times per year. That's $48K of revenue. Or, how about charging $499 per student? Or $999? Selling courses at these prices in the abstract sounds very hard. But, if you have a following who already admires, respects, and follows you, I think that it's likely that there is a significant demand from your audience for more than just your regular writing.

A friend of mine (kenny) had asked me a few days ago to write up something about how journalists should get into training. I had intended to write this but then forgot until I looked at my email today. From a group who "gets it", the search engine marketing group, I got an invite to have them train people at their next show. Are they expecting people to pay up? Check out these rates: Workshops $1,345/$745 Cost 8:00-5:00pm. If I had more time, I'd write up about the seminars and conventions that the NYT and Economist seem to run sometimes. And how colleges are beginning to wonder if the future of education is not so much a four year involvement but a lifetime opportunity to sell education to someone.

Journalists and bloggers should think of their writing efforts as the media and rather than accept lots of other advertisers selling things that your audience doesn't care about, sell them what they want. More from you. Cut out the middleman. Journalists should be educators with education being the profit center.

just a thought.....john


Thursday, April 02, 2009

USA Geography

If this isn't one cool implementation and tour de force of seo and marketing prowess, I don't know what is. It's from a Geographic US & World Search Function.

Alaska,Arizona,Arkansas,California,ColoradoConnecticutDelawareDistrict of ColumbiaFloridaGeorgiaHawaiiIdahoIllinoisIndianaIowaKansas

KentuckyLouisianaMaineMarylandMassachusettsMichiganMinnesotaMississippiMissouriMontanaNebraskaNevadaNew HampshireNew JerseyNew MexicoNew YorkNorth Carolina

North DakotaOhioOklahomaOregonPennsylvaniaRhode IslandSouth CarolinaSouth DakotastateTennesseeTexasUtahVermontVirginiaWashingtonWest VirginiaWisconsin
» United States Military
Armed Forces Americas (AA)
Armed Forces Europe (AE)
Armed Forces Pacific (AP)
» United States Overseas
American Samoa
Northern Mariana Islands
Puerto Rico
Virgin Islands
» Other Countries
United Kingdom
New Zealand
Other Countries


Dental Games

Yes, we have created a new genre. Games with Teeth!!!!

I'm not kidding. A few people in my office worked on a project when I wasn't paying attention and now we have a page of dental games. Go figure.

Does anybody have any ideas on how to market such a thing?

Actually, i just checked google and found:
Results 1 - 10 of about 11,200,000 for dental games. (0.21 seconds)