Hyperlinking the traditional: Writer’s Choice Dilemma

Licensed under Creative Commons by Will Montage. http://bit.ly/P8mHjZ
Licensed under Creative Commons by Will Montage. http://bit.ly/P8mHjZ

We read a lot of hyperlinked text nowadays on the Internet, but how can we be on the “creation” end of this process? How can we develop a new culture of hyperlinked writing  with our students? Thinking about High School where there is a considerable amount of formal writing, is it possible to hyperlink such “traditional” text to adapt to the modern world? Or we will just be able to embrace hyperlinked text with a very different type of writing?

I decided to explore this topic with High School students after talking to Silvia Tolisano and reading her blog posts on hyperlinked writing. Silvia talks about blog writing and she mentions an interesting Twiiter dialogue with Terry Heick, where he states that:

“The linking is a kind of art in & of itself independent of the original art of composition. With fluency, can be done together”.

So as High School students are learning different writing styles, in a first step towards creating a culture of hyperlinked writing, is it possible to create links as a second stage of “writing”?

Different teachers in High School have asked me that question about hyperlinked text. This question seems to be more easily answered for student papers that use parenthetical citations. In that case, the parenthetical citation could be replaced by a link to the source using corresponding words in the text. But when you consider creative writing, then is there a place for hyperlinking?

Hyperlinking a Chronicle: Offering possibilities

Licensed under Creative Commons by Ramunas Geciauskas. http://bit.ly/1ma5sgF
Licensed under Creative Commons by Ramunas Geciauskas. http://bit.ly/1ma5sgF

I had an opportunity to try out this idea in a Portuguese as a Foreign Language class where students had finished writing a chronicle. My question was whether it would be possible to  add hyperlinks to “amplify” the reader’s experience in the following areas:

Amplify context

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LIcensed under Creative Commons by The Italian voice. http://bit.ly/1eX4FYT

So as I was reading some chronicles from the students I started to imagine what was in the author’s mind and added the following links to experiment on providing a layer of context:

Original in Portuguese“Luiza se encontra sentada num banco dentro do museu. É o lugar favorito dela, onde pode pensar, relaxar e admirar……  Por que ninguém pode amar estas pinturas como vocês e eu? ela pensa …….    Como eles podiam dizer isso no “templo” da Luiza?… ”

Translation: “Luiza is sitting on a bench in a museum. It is her favorite place, where she can think, relax and admire …..  Why nobody can love those paintings like you and me? she thinks …..   How could they say that at “Luiza’s temple“?

Amplify debate 

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LIcensed under Creative Commons by Filipe Varela. http://bit.ly/1nsAMoj

In the chronicle excerpt below, the student raises issues about excessive use of technology, so I tried linking to sources around the topic to allow the audience to think further:

Original in Portuguese: “Se é sobre todos usando seu telefone celular durante o jantar, sobre o difícil que é usar o computador, ou algo completamente diferente, eles sempre têm alguma coisa contra a tecnologia….. “Wow”, ela pensou, “Desde quando as pessoas são tão dependentes da tecnologia?”

Translation: “If it is about all using the cellphone during dinner, about the difficulties of using a computer, or something completely different, they always have something against technology ….”Wow”he thought, “Since when people are so dependent on technology?”

After sharing these possibilities for hyperlinking a chronicle, students started working, with the option of hyperlinking inside the text or providing “extra” links  at the end of the text to allow continued reflection.

Students’ interpretations about hyperlinking

After showing the two possible ways to hyperlink  for context and information, students still made interesting decisions, which made their misconceptions visible. After intervention, most students changed their hyperlinks. Those misconceptions are listed below and they can be used in mini lessons  to support students in the creation of powerful hyperlinking.

Misconception: Adding mood with music video

musica
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In this situation, students provided links to songs, which added a certain mood related to the theme of the chronicle. This may have happened because students were talking about how stories reminded them of songs. But I don’t know where they have ever seen links being used this way. It seems like an idea related to “background” music to a media product. In the example below, even after intervention and a suggestion to link to a site about Pasadena, the student kept the same link.

Original student text in Portuguese: “Andando pelas ruas, eu senti uma emoção estranha. Eu senti que eu tinha voltado para casa. Mas isso tinha sentido. Esta era minha cidade de origem, Pasadena Califórnia. 

Translation: “Walking on the streets, I had a strange feeling. I felt I had come back home. But that made sense. This was my hometown, Pasadena, California”.

Misconception: Illustration with static image

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LIcenses under Creative Commons by Arnold Chao. https://www.flickr.com/photos/arnisto/1715332001/

In this case students chose to link to a static image that could have been used as an illustration to the text. Even though students had the choice of not using hyperlinks within the text, several chose to do so with an image that could have been an illustration. In this case, after intervention, the student decided to remove the link.

Original student text in Portuguese:  “Caminhando devagar em suas pernas fracas e frágeis não é difícil observar que ela é quase a única entre estes corredores sagrados. Por que ninguém pode amar estas pinturas como vocês e eu? ela pensa.”

Translation: “Walking slowly with her fragile and weak legs it is not difficult to observe that she is almost the only one around these sacred corridors. Why can nobody love these paintings like you and me? she thinks”.

Misconception: Hyperlink words and connection to meaning

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LIcensed under Creative Commons. http://bit.ly/1mNDsg2

The student in this example chose a video to illustrate the power of music in movies, using the word “horrible” as the hyperlink to indicate that he would not like that to happen. After clarifying the importance of the choice of words and their association with the hyperlink content, the student changed the hyperlinked word to “movie without music”.

Original student text in Portuguese:”Eu acho que a vida sem música  seria muito simples. Também, perderíamos uma maneira de nos expressar e nada seria divertido sem a música. Imaginem assistir a um filme sem música ou dançar sem música, eu realmente não quero pensar nisso porque isso seria horrível.”

 Translation: “I think that life without music would be too plain. Also, we would loose our ways of expression and nothing would be fun without music. Imagine watching a movie without music, or dance without music, I really do not want to think about it because it would be awful“.

Correction: I think that life without music would be too plain. Also, we would loose our ways of expression and nothing would be fun without music. Imagine watching a movie without music, or dance without music, I really do not want to think about it because it would be awful“.

Writing challenge: Predict hyperlinks

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Licensed under Creative Commons by xyrcon. http://bit.ly/1ifuCmy

Here the student provided a link to a great video about third culture kids, but only at the end of the text as a “Know More” option. That was indeed an alternative students had, so they were not forced to hyperlink within the text. But this link could have been embedded in the text if the student had thought about it while writing, or revising, by including the words “third culture kids”, for example.

Original student text in Portuguese: “Tudo o que eu aprendi na Guatemala sobre as novas culturas, idiomas, escola, amizades, etc., foi uma vantagem para quando eu mudei para o Brasil. Eu cheguei neste país preparada, pronta para todos os futuros obstáculos da vida. .. Eu posso dizer que eu sou muito afortunada de viajar pelo mundo e nunca vou esquecer o que meus pais fizeram por mim. Eles me deram um presente que ninguém poderia conseguir na loja mais cara do mundo: uma vida cheia de aventuras internacionais.

Mais sobre isso: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V3yG3hpJvL0

Translation: “All I learned in Guatemala about new cultures, languages, school, friendship, etc, was an advantage when I moved to Brazil. I arrived in this country prepared, ready for all future obstacles of life… I can say I am very fortunate for travelling the world and I will never forget what my parents have done for me.  They gave me a gift that nobody could get on the most expensive shop in the world: a life full of international adventures.

More about this topic:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V3yG3hpJvL0

Now what about the reader?

A concern voiced by the teacher was about the reader’s experience of the chronicle. For her, reading a chronicle is about how it impacts the reader to think further into the issues presented, and hyperlinking could distract the reader’s focus and deeper thinking. That is a good point and my suggestion to the class was to experiment reading with hyperlink and without hyperlinks, then debate the impact of such different experiences.

Here are some questions about hyperlinked reading that I proposed to the students for  feedback (I would love to learn about your perspectives as well!):

  • Do hyperlinks distract the reader of a creative writing piece?
  • Can liner reading followed by hyperlinked reading of the same text expand the reader’s experience?
  • How do readers react to hyperlinked visualization of the context of a story? Would they go deeper into imagination than readers of the same non hyperlinked text?
  • How readers differ in their hyperlinked reading experiences?

The students feedback on the experience of reading hyperlinked chronicles from their friends was mixed. Some liked hyperlinks within the text, others preferred links only at the end, and a couple thought it was distracting. Here are some highlights of students’ thoughts:

  •  Hyperlinks provided focus on keywords.
  • Hyperlinks provided explanations for terms.
  • Hyperlinks within the text were better because they were in context.
  • Hyperlinks were a distraction because the tendency was to open the links before continue the reading.
  • Hyperlinks after the text were better as extra information.

So here is the eMagazine for Portuguese readers, created from the students’ chronicles!

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