These Professionals Review Products for Schwag. Should You Trust Them?

Sorry, I couldn’t help myself. Please accept this ridiculous post as payment for the linkbait title.

The Technology and Learning blog at Inside Higher Ed, has a post “Don’t Trust Tech Bloggers,” which comes across as fairly absolute. The writer received a pitch from a company. If he writes about their product and if that piece produces seven donations to their IndieGoGo campaign, then they’ll give him their product for “free.” It leaves a bad taste in the mouth, because the company is looking for a return on investment. But interesting points are raised. When is it okay for a blog/writer to review a product? Should writers be given the product? Should they send it back after reviewing it? Should bloggers be paid to write about the product? Where are the lines in being true to your readers and creating content that your readers may find useful?

One example of blogs that get it right, is ProfHacker. In the post “Stand (in the Place Where You Work): GeekDesk Max Review,” the writer is totally up front about the review and the outcome. While, yes, there is a lot of cronyism in technology reporting1, I think there are bloggers who do an admirable job of being up-front and honest  with their readers, and who strive to create something that is useful and/or interesting.

Now, to address the linkbait title. Yes, you should trust librarians, but please note that publishers dole out so many free books to librarians at the American Library Association conference. Does that corrupt librarians ability to objectively review material for purchase? Or, is it getting a product in someone’s hands and letting the quality speak for itself?

If you blog, what guidelines do you follow for reviewing products, publishing native advertising2, or using real advertisements for your site?

  1. See Valleywag as a counterpoint to this trend. []
  2. We will never do this at Eduhacker, so please don’t email me. []

Online Scheduling with The Best Day

No one wants a flurry of emails about where and when to meet. And, good old Outlook meeting requests? They thrive in an environment where everyone uses Outlook. In higher education, where there’s a range of devices and calendars in use, meeting requests may not work.

One solution has been to use Doodle, an online scheduling site to send out potential meeting times. However, the aesthetic of Doodle and functionality may leave some users wanting more.

An alternative to Doodle, called The Best Day, works in a similar fashion, but allows invitees to vote on the where to meet, as well as when. Additionally, one is not stuck with just those two options. The meeting organizer can add more points for invitees to vote on. For instance, one could vote on agenda points, or anything else. The example used on the site is going out for drinks before meeting up for dinner.

The look of The Best Day is grounded in a 2014 aesthetic: porthole user images, page-width header images, responsive design, and large font.

Once time and place have been voted on, the meeting organizer clicks to lock-in where and when. Then an iCalendar datafile is ready for download.

In terms of functionality, there are more clicks involved in setting up and managing the meeting than Doodle. However, the other polling options and overall design of the site make up for that. They also have an iPhone app that allows you to schedule on the go.

If you’ve used The Best Day, what’s been your experience? Or, is there a scheduling app you prefer?

Great Resource for Making Instructional Videos

The plan is to make instructional videos about Moodle. I’m the sole instructional technologist and support 120+ faculty members. If I can create videos that demonstrate features, my hope is that it will save us both time and will allow me to be more effective. After creating two videos, I’ve learned the importance of writing a script.

If you’re looking to make some instructional videos, I highly recommend “They Came for the Carbs, and Stayed for the
Collaboration: Engaging Library Workers across
Units to Deliver Meaningful Learning Objects” published in ACRL. The appendices are especially helpful. One thing I learned was the importance of adding a short feedback form after the video in order to improve the videos and/or discover gaps in learning. My first two video are embedded below.

If you’ve made instructional videos, what are some things that made them effective? If you experienced bad results, in terms of learning, what may have caused that?

Required Qualifications: 25 Published Books; Preferred Qualifications: Be This Guy

When is a job description not a job description? How about when it’s describing a specific individual? Enter Santa Clara University and their search for a Quarterly Adjunct Lecturer in the College of Arts and Sciences with a specialty in nonfiction writing. The basic qualifications state:

  • The successful applicant will have at least 25 books on topics ranging from the history of Silicon Valley to the biography of microprocessing to interviews with entrepreneurs to the history of human and mechanical memory;
  • will have been published by presses such as Harper/Collins, Doubleday, Random House, St. Martin’s, and SUNY Press;
  • will also have e-books on topics such as home life in the US, home life in the UK, and water conservation;
  • will have worked as both a journalist for a print newspaper and for magazines; will have hosted television and radio productions for PBS, cable television, and ABC;
  • will have worked in electronic media such as being editor of Forbes ASAP or a weekly columnist for;
  • will have founded or co-founded at least two start-ups;
  • will have professional connections to Oxford University in the UK as well as to numerous media (print, electronic, and television) in the SF Bay Area and beyond.
  • The successful applicant must have demonstrated experience in teaching nonfiction writing and internship classes for undergraduates, must have demonstrated success in helping undergraduates secure internships in public writing that lead to jobs, and must be committed to working with undergraduates.

There are no preferred qualifications listed; though, Santa Clara University could have stated: successful applicants must be this guy.

The posting on Higher Ed Jobs (since removed) blew up on my Twitter feed this morning. While it seems like this is more of a contract renewal or some other administrative mistake, when combined with the equal employment opportunity statement at the bottom of the job ad, the whole thing reads poorly.

What would a tailor-made job description look like for you? Or, more seriously, is this a total farce of institutional policies or is there a problem with shutting out applicants?