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Online Publishing for Scholars, Educators, Publishers, and Communications Professionals

by TC Record - May 18, 2002

These materials accompanied the mini-course on online publishing offered at the 2002 AERA Annual Meeting

Online Publishing

  • For Scholars
  • For Educators
  • For Publishers
  • For Communications Professionals

Course Objective:

To consider the basic issues involved in developing an online publishing program

Major Topics

  1. Planning to Meet the Needs of a Particular Organization or Audience
  2. Conceptualizing Online Publishing as an Educational Activity
  3. Developing Content and a Content Model
  4. Developing or Selecting Publishing and Content Management Tools
  5. Conducting a Program of Research and Evaluation to Guide Improvement


Course Staff

Course Participants

  • Name
  • Organization
  • Online Publishing Goals/Audience


  • 4 Hour Meeting
  • No Pre-Course Activities
  • Post-Course Activities
  • Emphasis on general issues and discussion today
  • Specific information can be shared beyond today

Clear Goals

Online publishing opportunities are very broad and diverse This makes it particularly important to have clear goals

Sample Goals

  • To make my work available to my students and others
  • To represent my organization
  • To meet the needs of my readers


  • To make research available
    • To students
    • To colleagues
    • To members of the press
    • To the general searcher


  • To prepare electronic texts for students
  • Contexts:
    • Courses
    • Programs
    • Workshops
    • Outreach


  • Taking an existing publishing program online -
    • Advantages: content available, development process in place -
    • Dangers: locked into print program, need to satisfy immediate business demands


  • Needs of sponsors vs. needs of audience
  • Sponsor - publicity, authorship, revenue
  • Audience - ?

Defining Your Audience

  • Who?
  • How many are they?
  • What do they do?
  • What will they do with your content?
  • What is the rhythm of their use?


  • What does usability mean for your audience?
  • What is compelling about your content for them?
  • What alternative sources do they have?


  • Utility of your content to your audience has implications for your revenue prospects
  • Moving information into the decision-making flow yields higher value to your audience and greater potential to generate revenue

Design Digression

  • Audience needs - simplicity, predictability, clarity, speed,
  • Web developer needs - complexity, novelty, flash, obsolescence,
  • What do you need?

Sustaining Online Publishing

  • Mothership model
  • Marketing other services
  • Subscriptions
  • Pay Per Item
  • Advertising
  • Sponsorship
  • Content Syndication
  • Hobby

Testing Assumptions

  • Fortunately, online publishing allows you to learn a great deal about your audience with relatively little effort and expense
  • This makes it easy to test the assumptions you are making about your audience
  • You can experiment with different revenue possibilities

Key to Sustainability

  • Minimize operating costs
  • Integrate online publishing operations into other activities
  • Keep technology costs under control
  • Don't over invest
  • Justify costs in terms of services to audience
    • grow the business, not the operation!

Online Publishing as an Educational Activity

  • Why?
    • Education is a powerful technology
    • Education is increasingly attractive
    • You already know how to do this

Online Publishing as an Educational Activity

  • What does this mean?
    • For the way you think about your audience
    • For the way you think about your own activities

Online Publishing as an Educational Activity

  • Consider your audience or readers as learners
    • What are their learning needs?
    • What are their learning styles?
    • What do you want them to learn?
    • What do they want to learn?
  • What lends itself to the online venue?

Online Publishing as an Educational Activity

  • Consider yourself an educator
    • What do you have to teach?
    • Don't overlook the obvious
      • What are you teaching?
      • What are you learning?
      • What are you doing?

Online Publishing as an Educational Activity

  • Employ traditional educational planning strategies
    • Identify learning goals and objectives
    • Specify scope and sequence
    • Consider diverse activities to meet the needs of diverse learners
    • Activate members of your audience as teachers and learners

Online Publishing as an Educational Activity

  • Consider non-traditional possibilities
    • Less complete interaction
    • More continuous interaction
    • Less immediate feedback
    • More detailed feedback
    • Less flexibility to change course
    • More design control

Educational Approach

  • Consider community education approaches for your online community
    • reaching entire online group
  • Include focused formal educational opportunities
    • Workshops, classes, mini-lessons

Curriculum Frameworks

  • Creation contexts - "Join me in my work"
  • Transmission contexts - "We're back in school"
  • Application contexts - "Let me join you in your work"

Convergence Possibilities

  • Teaching
  • Scholarship
  • Publishing


Developing Content

  • Online publishing changes only two things: Space and Time


  • Space appears to be unlimited - a world of abundance without page limits
  • Initially it appears that you can just keep adding
  • But there is something that is limited - attention


  • Placement is also limited
  • Direct access is limited
  • The computer screen is very very small

A Design Digression

  • Page Design
  • Keeping things "above the fold"
  • Scrolling vs. clicking?
  • Standard placements
  • Deep linking - virtues and dangers

Managing Space

  • Managing space is more complex in online publishing
  • The increased power and flexibility of linking mean that you have more power to do things wrong
  • We don't have the hundreds of years of print conventions to count on and neither do readers

Managing Space

  • Planning content with space management in mind is essential
  • Following online trends is important
  • Consistency is key


  • Like space, time initially appears unlimited
  • You can publish a new "edition" every day or every hour
  • You can run 24/7
  • But in the online world the limits of time are very severe


  • Users have great expectations for the use of time online
  • They are unlikely to give any one site a great deal of time
  • There is more competition for reader time online
  • Any time spent must be repaid

A Design Digression

  • The competition is brutal - Yahoo loads in 7 seconds at 28.8
  • Implications for you
    • avoid elaborate designs that require time to load
    • avoid flash and splash
    • avoid heavy graphics
    • segment content where possible - IHT example

Examples of Good Design

  • News.Yahoo
  • http://news.yahoo.com/
  • A pure news site
  • Easy to navigate, superb organization, loads fast
  • Content from Reuters, AP, NYT, USA Today - all in one place

Good Design

  • International Herald Tribune
  • http://iht.com
  • Superb content presentation
  • Excellent use of JavaScript to enhance the reader's experience

Good Design

  • New York Times
  • http://www.nytimes.com
  • Lots of content handled very well
  • Great job of archiving
  • Note the content collections

Good Design

  • Washington Post
  • http://washingtonpost.com
  • Well organized
  • Less extensive top level display than NYT

Good Design

  • CNET: news.com
  • http://www.news.com
  • Very well organized
  • Great design

Bad Design

  • Slate
  • http://slate.msn.com
  • Great content, terrible design
  • One notable feature - keeping material from past week available from home page

Bad Design

  • Salon
  • http://www.salon.com
  • Difficult to find your way through all of the content
  • Too many places where too many categories are presented to the reader

Bad Design

  • Food TV
  • http://www.foodtv.com/
  • Very poorly organized
  • Search is very effective so the user can ignore the rest of the site

Bad Design

  • Martha Stewart
  • http:/www.marthastewart.com
  • Hides most of the valuable content
  • Looks pretty, but is not functional

Bad Design

  • AERA
  • http://www.aera.net
  • "Where to begin?"
  • "Hard to find content or anything else you might want."

Where does this leave us in terms of content?

  • You needs lots and lots of content that is well structured and well organized to make good use of limited space and time
  • You need a content development process

Content Development

  • The more content you will produce, the more you need a well-structured development approach
  • The more content you will make available to readers, the more you need a content model

Content Development

  • Where will you get content?
  • Write it yourself
  • Invite authors, commission, assign students
  • Engage readers
  • Link to other sites
  • Purchase content services

Structuring Content

  • Developing a content model
  • What is a content model?
  • A standard way to structure content elements

Structuring Content

  • Every article, paper, book, etc. has a set of more or less standard elements
  • Least structured approach - every content item is treated as one element
  • Move toward structuring - identifying more elements and handling them in a uniform way

Content Pyramid

--Publication Info--
---Short Description---
------Executive Summary------
------------Full Text Body------------
--------------Related Materials---------------

Content Model

  • No one correct approach
  • Evolving meta-data standards - Dublin Core, SIF, GEM, DOD, etc.
  • More elaborate models require more overhead o Models should allow you to do what you want to do with the content

Working with Content

  • Present - display in whole or part
  • Analyze - learn how it is being used
  • Archive - store for later use
  • Manipulate - re-configure or re-use
  • Exchange - export, import, share, trade, sell or buy


  • Range from:
    • simple html pages
    • to
    • million dollar plus content management and publishing systems


  • What influences what you will need?
  • Size and scope of your effort
    • from a single scholar's web page to the publishing site of a multi-national publishing company
    • amount of content, frequency of publication, number of actors, expectations of audience, revenue potential, etc.

Tool Options

  • Do it yourself Html pages
  • Home organization services - university, corporation, etc.
  • Commercial free services - isp's etc.

A Digression on IP

  • Ownership of intellectual property is increasingly a concern
  • Be sure to understand the ip implications of using any facility - who owns the content?

Tool Options

  • Build your own or buy?
  • Files vs. database organization
  • Multiple tools vs. an integrated system - content mgmt, publishing, workgroup, etc.
  • Services vs. software (asps vs. run your own)
  • Proprietary vs. open source solutions

Tools Investment Considerations

  • Cost of purchasing o Cost of operating
  • Cost of maintaining
  • Hardware costs
  • Control technology costs
    every dollar spent on technology is one less for content


  • On your audience
  • On your content
  • On your audience in interaction with your content

An Aside on Promotion

"If you build it they will not come."

An Aside on Promotion

  • Strategies to Promote Your Online Publication:
    • Print Advertising/Advertise Content
    • Link to your own print publication
    • Position with Search Engines
    • E-mail newsletter

Special Challenge of the Invisible Web

  • Content in databases is not readily accessible to search engines
  • Design solutions - content collections on your home page to show major themes


  • Who are the members of your audience?
    • Membership models
    • Membership registration
    • Membership surveys
    • Individual movement on your publication site
    • Statistics on traffic - hits, page views, member visits, member visits over time
    • Problem reports, search data, etc.

TCR in 2001

  • A look at one online education journal's audience

Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record, Date Published: May 18, 2002
https://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 10928, Date Accessed: 5/28/2022 7:16:55 AM

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