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Weeknote 03/2020

I confess to almost forgetting to writing a weeknote this week. Thanks to Mike Cooke for the reminder! It’s funny how, when we’re nudged out of a routine, things can go sideways.


The main thing I did this week was go to Kuwait City to run a workshop for the AMICAL consortium on the strategic development of digital literacies. For a variety of reasons, I flew there on Tuesday, led the workshop on Wednesday, and flew back on Thursday.

Regular readers will know that, despite my efforts to eat well and keep fit, such stresses on my body don’t always end well. And so it was that on Thursday I succumbed to a cold, and then on Friday lunchtime, after a number of meetings for Moodle, I suffered from a migraine that knocked me sideways.

It’s my fault, of course. I should know better than to put myself through these things. It was the lack of sleep that got me, I think, but had I stuck around an extra day, my only option would have been to fly back at 3am local time. That wouldn’t have been ideal either.

The workshop went really well, and I was so pleased to meet such lovely people who were so receptive to the ideas I was sharing. I received some great feedback on everything from ambiguity to managing a workshop of around 25 people.

Kuwait City isn’t a place I’d hurry back to as a tourist, but I will say that the Lebanese food I had on Wednesday night was almost worth the trip in and of itself. Delightful.


I recorded a microcast for Thought Shrapnel about the workshop, as well as publishing an article about hierarchy, context, and ways we approach the question of how we should live. To this week’s roundup of links I added some comments, which I’ll continue to do if I can prioritise it.


Things are looking up for MoodleNet as the feeds (e.g. ‘My MoodleNet’) are now working. There’s still plenty to do, but I’ve worked closely with Martin Dougiamas, Moodle’s Founder and CEO, on the roadmap and resourcing.

We’ve always had the code on GitLab, but now we’ve moved the issues there too. You can view the issue board for the current milestone here. As Product Manager, it’s my job to walk a fine line between idealism and pragmatism when it comes to choosing tools. Everyone seems happier so far.


I’ve responded to a couple of requests for work through We Are Open Co-op this week, both of which sound really interesting. I’m going to start getting stuck into some existing work that my colleagues are doing this next week.

Other than that, it’s ensuring everyone has what they need for MoodleNet, and starting to scope out a new e-book. I was going to revise and expand The Essential Elements of Digital Literacies but, instead, I’m considering one with a similar title as my AMICAL workshop using Leanpub.

The week after next I’m in Barcelona for Moodle meetings and then off to London for a co-op meetup. And no, I won’t be at BETT.


Photo taken by Dimitris Tzouris and shared on Twitter

My ebook, ‘The Essential Elements of Digital Literacies’ is now pay-what-you-want (including nothing!)

As I promised when first making it available for sale, I’ve steadily reduced the price of my ebook, The Essential Elements of Digital Literacies, until it is now effectively zero. I’ve given people the option of paying if they’d like to, but other than adding an email address at checkout, it’s free of charge.

For those not familiar with the origin of this book, it started life as my doctoral thesis, which I then updated and re-wrote in less academic language. People bought into it as I was writing using the OpenBeta process I devised (this was before Leanpub existed!). The earlier people bought into the writing process, the cheaper it was. They got updates all of the way up to version 1.0.

Once it was ready for general consumption, I sold it at full price (£7.99) and then steadily decreased the price around every six months. Although I don’t think it’s ‘dated’, I did have the idea of what George Siemens called the ‘half-life of knowledge’ in his 2006 book Knowing Knowledge. Another reason was that the financial aspect of the book was to motivate me to continue working on it: writing for an already-established audience is a great motivator!

I’ve been delighted that my ebook has been used as a core text in colleges and universities worldwide, including (quite awesomely) the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City. University libraries have also ‘stocked’ it, making use of Creative Commons license I released it under.

So, what’s next? I haven’t really decided, really. I was planning to write a book including classroom activities for improving digital literacies but, for whatever reason, my heart wasn’t really in it. I’m still keen on doing work in the new literacies space, but am thinking of what kind of format would help people most. Perhaps a drip-feed email series? A series of webinars? A course? I don’t know. If you’ve got ideas, please do let me know.

All that remains is to thank those (hundreds) of people who believed in me enough to invest in the book before it reached v1.0, for those (500+) people who have bought it since, and for those who have given me feedback since it was published. If you’ve got comments / suggestions, I’d love to hear them.

If you’d like to use the ebook with your students, you might find the accompanying wiki helpful. It includes the hi-res diagrams I used, as well as space to be able to critique the contents with your students. For a great recent example of this in a Masters-level setting, check out this page on the wiki!

‘The Essential Elements of Digital Literacies’ is now £1.99!

The Essential Elements of Digital LiteraciesI’m delighted to announce that today, in line with my pricing strategy, I’ve reduced The Essential Elements of Digital Literacies to £1.99. The code gimme10 still works, giving you an extra 10% off!

Around 750 people have now purchased the book, including those that invested while I was writing it through the OpenBeta process I devised.

If you decide to go ahead and buy the book at this price point, be assured I won’t be reducing the book again for another six months.

‘The Essential Elements of Digital Literacies’ is now £3.99!

The Essential Elements of Digital LiteraciesI’m pleased to announce that today, in line with my pricing strategy, I’ve reduced The Essential Elements of Digital Literacies to £3.99! The code gimme10 still works, giving you an extra 10% off!

For a specialist, self-published ebook, I’ve been delighted with the number of sales. More than 250 people backed the book as it was being written through the OpenBeta process I devised. Their feedback helped shape the book in a positive direction and around the same number of people have purchased the book post-v1.0.

If you decide to go ahead and buy the book at this price point, be assured I won’t reduce the book further until 2016. 🙂


A quick note on the two other books I planned to write this year. Due to spinning up my full-time consultancy slightly earlier than I’d originally planned, I’ve had to put these on the backburner. I’m still planning to write them – at some point!

My Twitter ads verdict: a waste of time and money

Update: The excellent comments on this post have made me realise that I proved exactly nothing in this experiment due to the poor way I set it up. Thanks all! Will try to do better next time.


I mentioned on Friday that I was going to experiment with Twitter ads for my book The Essential Elements of Digital Literacies. I said I’d report back on my findings.

Well, it’s a pretty stark message: either I’m doing something fundamentally wrong, or they’re a complete waste of time and money.

Here’s my results after spending $50 on three promoted tweets:

Twitter campaign overview

As you can see, not exactly stellar results.

So how did that translate to sales? Remember, I said that, “After Gumroad’s commission and the 10% discount, I need less than 10 additional people to buy my ebook to break even.”

According to my Gumroad statistics, I didn’t even sell one additional copy:

Gumroad customers

As the person who bought my book yesterday bought it at the undiscounted rate, I’m chalking that up as an ‘organic’ sale (i.e. they didn’t purchase it as a result of the advertising).

Happily, sales are going reasonably well anyway. They fluctuate each week, but are never zero. I think I’ll just let things continue as they are and not throw good money after bad. 😉

Towards zero: the pricing strategy for my ebook ‘The Essential Elements of Digital Literacies’

Today I reduced the price of my ebook The Essential Elements of Digital Literacies from £7.99 to £5.99. The code gimme10 still works, giving you an extra 10% off!

I just wanted to take a moment to explain the pricing strategy for this work. As regular readers will be aware, I took a couple of years to write this ebook, starting it shortly after I graduated from my Ed.D. in 2012. My thesis was the academic starting point, with my aim to make my research more accessible and applicable to educators and other interested parties.

The first version of the book, v0.1, was literally the title and an indicative contents page. Those who bought the book at this stage were taking a bit of a punt – but were rewarded by getting every subsequent update for free after a small initial outlay. Each subsequent version (v0.2, v0.3, etc.) increased in price until v1.0 was released for £7.99. Doing it this way meant I got some great feedback from early adopters and meant I could shape the book to be as useful as possible.

The book is already Creative Commons licensed but, eventually, I want it also to be free. I’m going to reduce it in price until, two years after publication (~June 2016), it will be free of charge. I’ll make these price reductions approximately every six months.

I’m itching to write another ebook and so am considering a companion workbook to complement The Essential Elements of Digital Literacies. It would probably take the ‘combination of elements’ approach I started to develop a couple of years ago (see slide 40+ of this presentation). I’d love to know your thoughts on this idea in the comments below. Would it be worthwhile? Is it something in which you’d invest?

A quick update on ‘The Essential Elements of Digital Literacies’

The Essential Elements of Digital Literacies

It’s been three weeks since v1.0 of my ebook, The Essential Elements of Digital Literacies went on sale. 300+ people invested in the book as part of the OpenBeta process and, up to this morning, 121 people have downloaded it via Gumroad (the e-commerce platform).

Last week I met up with former colleague Zak Mensah, now of Bristol Museums at the E-Learning Development on a Shoestring event. He’s quite the ebook guru, and gave me some great tips on how to convert the PDF into ePUB and Kindle formats. I’ll be working on that when I get back from my summer holidays – so from mid-August onwards.

I can’t tell you how much I’ve enjoyed the process of working iteratively and openly on both my thesis (accessed 215,124 times as of this morning) and this ebook. Although important, digital literacies is a bit of a niche subject, so I’m delighted by the interest both have generated.

If you haven’t had a chance to purchase the book yet, the code ‘gimme10’ should still work for a while. Also, I’ve had people contact me about using The Essential Elements of Digital Literacies on a student course, with a MOOC, or with their staff for professional development. If you’re also interested in these kinds of options, do get in touch (mail@nulldougbelshaw.com).

Thanks to everyone who’s invested in the book so far. I very much appreciate your support and feedback – and look forward to seeing the wiki being used increasingly from next academic year onwards!

Announcing the launch of ‘The Essential Elements of Digital Literacies’

The Essential Elements of Digital LiteraciesTwo years and ~20,000 words later, I’m delighted to announce that The Essential Elements of Digital Literacies has now reached v1.0!

Over 300 people have already invested in the book as part of the OpenBeta process I devised. Many of them (too numerous to name individually!) have given invaluable feedback on everything from design to spotting typos.

I’ve put together a dedicated website where you can buy the book, read a sample, and visit the emergent wiki.


Take a look: http://digitalliteraci.es


This Sunday I’m running a live session to celebrate the launch. It will include a brief presentation, some fun activities to try out, a Q&A session, and an opportunity to buy the book at a 20% discount.

Date: Sunday 29th June 2014
Time: 8pm BST (what time is that for me?)
URL: http://goo.gl/hJOA7K

Launch preparations for ‘The Essential Elements of Digital Literacies’

Introduction

Rocket
CC BY Steve Jurvetson

Over the past couple of years I’ve been working on an e-book entitled The Essential Elements of Digital Literacies. While charging for the book, I’ve worked in the open as much as possible using the OpenBeta process I came up with back in 2009. In a nutshell, the earlier people buy into the process of the book, the cheaper it is for them. In return, I get feedback.

So far, and with 18 days until the June 27th launch, some 297 people have bought into the book. I’m incredibly grateful for the encouragement, ideas, and copyediting I’ve received from a good proportion of that number.

In this post, I want to outline briefly my plans for what happens at v1.0 launch and afterwards. I’m very much making it up as I go along, so feedback is welcome!

v1.0 launch

The Essential Elements of Digital LiteraciesI’m launching v1.0 of The Essential Elements of Digital Literacies on June 27th, commemorating exactly two years since the my Ed.D. graduation ceremony in Durham Cathedral. My doctoral thesis, started while a classroom teacher and completed while working in Higher Education, was entitled What is digital literacy? A Pragmatic investigation.

To accompany the launch, I’m planning:

‘Nice to have’ for launch, and definitely available at some point this year:

  • Kindle version
  • ePUB version
  • audiobook version

The tricky question of money

As I’ve said before, the main reason I decided to charge for this e-book was not actually financial. I wanted to further test the OpenBeta model but, even more importantly, asking people to buy into the book led to at least three benefits:

  1. I had an existing audience to write for
  2. I established a means of gaining valuable feedback
  3. People (perhaps) value content more when they have to pay for it

The launch price of The Essential Elements of Digital Literacies will be £7.99. Purchasers – new and existing – will get every version that’s available in DRM-free formats. That includes the audiobook when it’s available, read in my sultry northern accent(!)

After launch, I’m going to reduce the price regularly (perhaps every six months) until, on 27th July 2016, it will be free and the e-book released into the Public Domain. Doing this will make it easier to integrate the book and the wiki in a similar way to the example shown by Yochai Benkler’s The Wealth of Networks.

Finally, on money, it’s worth saying that a proportion of what I’ve made so far – and what I will make – will go to good causes as part of our family’s planned giving.

Conclusion

I’ve very much enjoyed the process of writing The Essential Elements of Digital Literacies and nurturing a small community around it. I’m very much looking forward to the reviews from people like you and finding out how people use the e-book as a resource for practical action.

If you’d like to get involved in the launch, you’re very welcome to do so. Version 0.99 of the e-book will be available until June 20th, and ways you can help with the launch are detailed on this wiki page.

v0.99 of ‘The Essential Elements of Digital Literacies’ now available! [E-BOOK]

The Essential Elements of Digital LiteraciesI’m delighted to announce that the latest iteration of my e-book The Essential Elements of Digital Literacies is now available. This takes us to v0.99! The text is 99% complete, with only a small appendix to write. I also need to work on some design elements.

Those who invested in previous versions have already received their free update, according to the OpenBeta process I devised (or at least they should have done – ping me if not!)

You can invest in v0.99 and then get the update to v1.0 by clicking below:


v1.0 is coming on June 27th!


What’s included in this version?

  • About
  • Preface
  • Contents
  • Chapter 1: Introduction
  • Chapter 2: What’s the problem?
  • Chapter 3: Everything is ambiguous
  • Chapter 4: Why existing models of digital literacy don’t work
  • Chapter 5: The Essential Elements of Digital Literacies
  • Chapter 6: Curiosity created the LOLcat
  • Chapter 7: Remix: the heart of digital literacies
  • Chapter 8: Coding and the web
  • Chapter 9: Conclusion
  • Appendix: What to do next

I’d like to thank Liesl Scheepers (South Africa), Vicky Teinaki (New Zealand via Newcastle), and Penny Wheeler (Australia) for their very quick feedback on this iteration. It’s much appreciated.

Got questions? I might have answered them in this post announcing the e-book! Please note: I’m exploring payment options other than Paypal for v1.0.

Book cover background CC BY pranav

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