A fantastic discussion on Wired.com, I think they nailed it: yes headlines matter immensely, in marketing, education, or other written content. Highlights:
“The headline is our one chance to reach people who have a million other things that they’re thinking about, and who didn’t wake up in the morning wanting to care about feminism or climate change, or the policy details of the election,” says co-founder Peter Koechley. “The difference between a good headline and a bad headline can be just massive. It’s not a rounding error. When we test headlines we see 20% difference, 50% difference, 500% difference. A really excellent headline can make something go viral.”
“Subject lines matter a ton,” Rospars says. “As campaigns especially, but also organizations and brands more generally, become prolific content producers themselves, they’re paying much more attention… The key is to keep finding new ways to engage people with your content by being playful with the creative and ruthless with the testing.”
Whether it’s headlining material to come or a hook for interest, this is oftentimes the single chance to grab the audience for more. People are increasingly accustomed to saavy headlines, the bar is high… let’s not be boring.
- “I will be outspent,” “Some scary numbers,” and “Do this for Michelle.” (President Obama’s presidential campaign)
- “Who Gives A Crap – toilet paper that builds toilets,” “Ministry of Supply: The Future of Dress Shirts,” “Penny Arcade Sells Out,” “Oculus Rift: Step Into the Game,” and “To Be Or Not To Be: That Is The Adventure.” (crowdsourcing campaigns)
- “Move Over, Barbie — You’re Obsolete,” (an article at Upworthy, which promoted a construction kit to encourage young girls to become engineers. Upworthy is a news aggregator that makes editors write at least 25 different headlines for each post, then plugs top contenders into alternate versions of of its Facebook page and website to test which one elicits the maximum reaction.
From the American Psychological Association:
“…Robinson likes to speculate about crafty real-world manipulation of natural dopamine mechanisms. One idea she has: “Designing classroom activities that may increase dopamine signaling, such as unexpected rewards along the way, may enhance the desire to perform well during and after learning. This could lead to better performance of learned tasks.”
Yep. An understanding of dopamine in this context is so interesting. The trick is understanding gamification and learning well enough to design the experience in a way that treads lightly on potentially manipulative behaviorism hacks (hedonic treadmill, anyone?), and instead perhaps leans hard on a healthy injection of cognitivism (hi, intrinsic rewards.)
Being enrolled in one or two MOOCs at any given time for quite a while now (& even participating here and there! 😉 I can’t help but notice big differences among them in teaching style, design, organization and so on.
Some really stand out, others disappoint. Some are weak or strong on lighting and audio; some need more energy and others don’t; some hook you fairly well while others bore; some are clever yet others feel like a sit-down talking-to … & how does a sit-down talking-to feel as a distance learner? (The answer is that it feels exceptionally lame and boring, and you’d rather claw your eyeballs out and run away screaming.)
Other interesting things include how varying levels of resource utilization such wikis, etc. and communications. Some are exceptional about emailing, in some feel like the teacher is conversational and knows or cares about you.
As a whole, online, free learning requires an extra motivation boost. Hopefully these courses compel learners to stick with them.
I think we’ll see such courses evolve to be so polished we’ll eventually look back and view these like we now do primitive pages of the internet from the mid 90′s. Does this webpage for Apple lure you in?
Broadly speaking, does it not make sense that educational organizations in the online space will promote as presenter the most polished and engaging teachers? Perhaps other teachers will focus less on presenting and more on mentoring and facilitating community guidance. Will creative content developers, perhaps combined as instructional designers, not be increasingly in demand as co-developers to give the needed pizazz?
TED-Ed may be suited for “basic” material but reflecting on these four MOOCS don’t we all really want learnings more like it, that fascinate and engage us and help us want to come back for more? There must inevitably be an educational free-market drive that will squeeze interesting content and interactivity up the chain even into advanced topics we’d never believe today would be “sexied up”.
Udemy.com crossed my radar earlier this year. It’s a slick site that facilitates anybody teaching an online course on anything, and charge for it (or do it free.) Love it.
Interesting is an article from Gigaom today: a quarter of Udemy’s instructors are tracking to make $10K a year. WOW. Udemy seems to have traction in terms of growth too: half a million unique visitors monthly as of last June. Here’s a Top 10 list of their instructors/courses as of May, & an interview with Udemy’s Marketing VP with tons of goodies and stats here.
I’m as fascinated with these guys as I am with MOOCs. I’m curious to see what Udemy does and ushers in.
Tech-media-business site gigaom ran an article on “How Coursera may profit from free courses.”, supplying more evidence that the free model is alive and well! It provides teachers (& in this case learner) content and tools, while private firms are only limited by their imagination of how to provide something for free… yet get paid, as Coursera illustrates.
Chris Anderson of Wired was an early-adopter of these ideas and gave a prescient primer back in 2007 here: Chris Anderson of WIRED on tech’s Long Tail.
Additionally, Eric von Hippel of MIT’s Sloan School of Management defined a user-led innovation model in his book Democratizing Innovation (free ebook on Amazon!) arguing why and when users find it profitable to develop new products and services for themselves, and why it often pays users to reveal their innovations freely for the use of all. He proposes that as innovation becomes more user-centered the information needs to flow freely, in a more democratic way, creating a “rich intellectual commons” and “attacking a major structure of the social division of labor,” which would tie in to educational resources multiplying as a result of volunteerism giving back via “cognitive surplus.”
With the current trend of proliferating free educational resources (even in online education alone such as Coursera as mentioned above, and including others like UniversityNow, Codecademy, 2tor, The Minerva Project, Udacity, Udemy and more) we’d expect the good news of seeing this to continue help both business as well as educators and students.