Medium – A Social Networking Experiment

On a phone call today, my boss mentioned Medium, a social writing platform by Twitter that I had never heard of. I checked it out and found it extremely user-friendly and I was intrigued to see how it functioned. Something my boss said resonated with me: people who use Medium have higher readership than those who publish their blog content to standalone sites.

I love my WordPress site, but let’s be honest – there isn’t a ton of readership.

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So I wondered, what if I took my best post and added it to Medium as an experiment to see what reached the furthest? Would it have more action? Would there be people who commented on the post?

After investigating, my “best views ever” post on this blog was called “Digital Learning? That Might Be Scary…” In that blog, I reference a friend and former colleague, Geoff Krall, who has a massive social media following. This is probably why I had a whole 68 views courtesy of his networking capabilities. Still, as the school year heads back into session, it might not be a bad content to tweak (not being Digital Learning Day and all) and seeing what happens to both his numbers and mine.

Enter the experiment. About an hour ago, I published that same blog piece on Medium. After a conversation with my blogging buddies, I realized that I needed to clarify what exactly I was testing, which in turn, had me thinking about the goals of my writing in general. In the past, I was focused on writing to share my thoughts and opinions on the edu-space, particularly in the blended and digital learning realms. But that really isn’t the purpose of this experiment.

Here, I really want to see the effects of reach, connectivity, and readership.

Medium allows three tags to classify your writing. I chose “EdTech”, “Education” and “Blended Learning”. I can do more than that in WordPress, but I am not sure it gets me the reach I am hoping for. So for reach, how far does one post go based on a limited tagging structure? To determine that, in three weeks, I will check stats by views, reads, and recs. Remember, the goal is to get more than 68 views.

I can also see who has recommended my story and choose to follow them if I’d like. Again, similar to WordPress, but it feels more networky because Medium is letting me know what type of action (including highlights, comments, and shares) that person is doing. I am also curious about the impact that the Medium post has on other social channels – including my blog space, my Twitter account (which I have linked in Medium), my new Medium network, and potentially even the impact it has on Geoff’s blog. How does the same post from my blog where I have to generate the readership compare to the embedded networking capabilities of Medium?

Does Medium spread the message to a wider audience? If so, how far? Could we possibly see the increase for both me and Geoff? What are the advantages and disadvantages of using Medium from a user standpoint as well as from a reader standpoint? Those are the sheer numbers questions I plan to look at as well. Depending on the results, I may be reevaluating where I share content in the future – just my blog, my blog and Medium, or ditch the blog altogether?

Do you use Medium? Sound off in the comments below with your thoughts on the product.

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Working Toward a Purpose

The last week I have spent a fair amount of time lost in thought about what are the goals I am helping my company achieve in my current role. Six months into the job and I am finally starting to see a clear picture of what it could be. It’s a cool role…engagement coordinator. To me, it evokes thoughts of connection, elevating amazing teacher work and bringing together like-minded learners from across the country to share and grow from one another. It also sounds BIG. And a bit challenging. But I am always up for a challenge.

The thing that has me puzzled is about goals. I thought I understood our company and department goals until I was asked to sit down and organize the goals in terms of generating community through social media and determining the metrics involved with those goals. It was extremely challenging to a bit frustrating to realize that I really didn’t know our goals as well as I thought I did. Numerically I understood that I need to help grow community and even have a specific target in mind, but the more I tried to parse out what that meant, the more I realized that I was starting with the metrics, which is a big no-no.

I found this great article that helped me understand I needed to back it up quite a bit and focus on what our department goals actually looked like in practice. I’m not done with that process yet and am sure that it will be revised more times than I can count in the next few weeks before we land on something solid. And I am totally ok with that. It’s the collaborative process that counts in getting a really clear picture of what we are aiming to do.

So what does this have to do with education? It’s pretty simple actually. I think schools and districts are doing exactly what the strategy funnel suggests NOT to do. Instead of starting with the tactics and the metrics, go back to the goals.

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You may be thinking, I know my goals. I need to have X% of kiddos pass my end-of-course test or we need to increase our literacy level by X points this year. But I think those are really metrics of a larger goal…and it’s the larger goal we should be pushing teachers to realize and supporting them to do so in the process.

Here’s what that might look like for an 9th grade ELA class:

 

See what I did there? One of my classroom metrics contains the “goal” that I had previously mentioned which is actually a measurement of what I am doing in my classroom. And while that isn’t the traditional way of looking at a course, if I get clear about my classroom practice goal, then my metrics can flow from that rather than the reverse. The metrics might be the same, but they feel totally different because I am focusing on what I want to accomplish with my students that year. I am giving myself permission to craft a larger purpose to work toward. Backwards mapping the process will help make it very clear how to set up what you do in the classroom so that everything is in service of the larger goal and the metric will be the evidence you have in the end to prove what you did worked without pressuring or over-stressing your learners about those test scores.