Dynamic not static portfolios
For some time now, I’ve been interested in creating online portfolios for students. Students could start a blog, they could start a chat room. They could do any number of things.
In the long run though, they don’t just want a portfolio of who they are. Life isn’t only about ‘stock’, it is about ‘flow’.
We want students who are at ease with the interconnected world and who can get things done when and where they need to get this done. Our portfolios need to be organized dynamically, around ‘doing’ and ‘action’.
Jane McGonigle lists the social characteristics of ‘new’ work. Adnan Ali has a list of 6 technical skills which we should all be able to do in a rudimentary way.
6 technical skills for getting the internet on your side in the career of your life
I think it would be reasonable for students to have a course where they do a project on each of these 6 skills. Moreover, they should think up experiments to ‘break’ their work ~ that is, to test its limits. In that way, they learn to think analytically rather than subjectively about what they are doing and move from being amateurs to professionals.
1. Market Identification
Understand the structure of the internet as it lies today.
Which keywords do people use to label their work and how do the keywords vary from one group to another?
2. Conversion Model Development
Understand the actions that are taken on the internet.
What action do they want people to take on their page? How is that action depicted? How is it counted? How is it aggregated to have value to the business?
How are various actions connected onwards, for example, through petitions, paypal, etc?
What proportion of visitors are likely to take these actions?
3. Landing Pages
Understand the ease with which people use the internet
What do visitors see when they arrive and does the page fulfil their needs? What are the different kinds of landing pages (FAQ, blog, profile, etc.) and what solution it is providing? How usable is the page and how does usability affect conversion?
4. Traffic generation
Understand how people find pages on the internet
How do people find a website through Google? How does a page rise to the top of search? How do advertisements draw traffic? How can we compete for advertising space that draws the best traffic (for us) and how much does it cost?
SEO, Pay per Click, Pay per Acquisition are the technical skills here.
5. Conversation Management
Understand the 2 way web and our preference for interaction on sites where we control part of the conversation
How can we stimulate conversation between 2 or more people? Why does bringing them together assist them (and us)? What is our role? Should we host the conversation or take part in a hosted conversation? What makes a good conversation?
6. Analytics Tracking
Understand the mechanics of tracking web traffic and simple experimentation
Track every part of the value chain and run simple experiments to test proposed changes using Google Analytics and other automated tracking mechanism.
Career Psychology and the Internet
One of the principles of career psychology is to train at the ‘level’ that you intend to work.
We want students to manage their entire career, not small parts of it. From the outset then, students should set up a portfolio and ask themselves each week and each month, what did I achieve? How did this portfolio help me achieve and how have I displayed my achievement?
Then each month, they should take one of the six parts and do a focused project to learn more skills. Let’s imagine they have done this 7 times from the beginning of their GSCE curriculum (2 rounds), through university preparation (2 rounds) and through their bachelor’s degree (3 rounds). It is very likely that they will be highly accomplished and goal oriented by the end.
For those of us late to the party, well we can just begin! In a year, we should be as good as a 16 year old! We’ll get there!!