Engagement – what stage are you at?

Yesterday was quite a momentous day for me since my Teach 100 badge actually dropped below 500 for the first time. Of course, this didn’t last long and it is back to over 500 now. I did take a screen shot of it and tweeted it as proof though! Your ranking on the site is basically calculated by engagement and that made me think about the ways and stages we engage with blogs, videos and tweets. So here are my very own levels of internet engagement!…So, be honest, which stage did you reach?…


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One of the main problems I have with my research is actually deciding and maintaining a focus. Being a primary school teacher requires you to be almost a ‘jack of all trades’ possessing a very good understanding of most areas coupled with an outstanding understanding of pedagogy. This suited my own personal mind, which tends to flick between ideas and practices. At the moment you will be aware that I am trying desperately to write my PhD proposal but my thoughts constantly change on what I would like to complete this on. One of the areas that interests me, as well as game based learning, gamification, virtual worlds and online discussion forums, is student engagement. Promoting student engagement has been proved to have a positive impact on both learning and outcomes and there are many ways which we, as educators, can encourage this engagement. However, linked to my Teach 100 badge/ranking, I have been considering the types and level of engagement which I think occur while browsing twitter, blog posts, RSS feeds and videos. What follows are my stages of engagement for internet content and, repeating my initial question, which stage did you reach?

  • Stage One – Nothing – This is the basic level of hierarchy of my stages of content engagement. We all engage with some content at this level, including me. If anyone engaged with this blog post at this stage then they will not actually be reading or listening to this. This stage is when you see the title of the post or tweet and just filter it out, considering that it is not of interest to you. There is no engagement apart from the decision not to take any action apart from deleting it from your feed or just moving on. This is an important filtering system that we all use in order to reduce the amount of posts we actually interact with. If you look at the wealth of posts which comes into our information feeds, we cannot possibly interact with them all. Some might consider this stage as our sanity keeper. Trying to get readers (for want of a better word) beyond this stage is the job of the title of the post or the image which accompanies it.

  • Stage Two – Actions – Even if you have reached this stage you might not actually be reading this at the moment. You might do in the future but the chances are the post is currently sitting in Pocket somewhere or the ‘read later’ application of your choice. The title/image did its job and you have decided that the post is worth a read, but time means you can not do it now and so you have saved it. Other limited actions, in this stage, also include liking or rating the post/video. You might not have actually read it, but you have liked it since you think it will be suitable and something you agree with. You might have retweeted it or added a suitable hashtag to it but essentially your own engagement with the post is still limited. You might have even reached this stage because you like the work the person usually produces or it is a colleague or someone you are supporting.

  • Stage Three -Surface Engagement – Got you! If you are still with this post then you have reached what I call Stage Three – Engagement! At this stage, engagement has actually started although this might still be at a superficial level. You have done some or all the previous stages and have actually started to read the post or watch the video. Initially you might skim the post and suddenly go back to stage two but this stage of engagement is all about actually reading and/or watching. Even after this stage, you could return to stage two but from my point of view, your engagement with the information is increasing.

  • Stage Four – Thought Engagement – If you are considering which stage you are at, then you are actually at the thought engagement stage. There is an important step between just reading the content of a post and reading and thinking about it. This is what I would hope would be the stage that all my blog posts get to. People have read the article and it has caused them to think about what they have read. This is quite an ethereal stage as it is intangible and difficult to see let alone quantify. In a recent #LTHEchat the topic was student engagement. This is the stage that I would want my students to be at within my sessions, listening to the content and actually thinking about it. I’m not requiring hands up or challenging discussion just that existing thoughts have been challenged or new thoughts created. If this waffle has given you something to think about, either positive or negative, then you have engaged at this stage -congratulations! Being interested in gamification I have say at this point…but can you progress to stage five?

  • Stage Five – Reactive Engagement – I could split this stage up into two, depending on the level of reaction, although for simplicity, and the fact that I’ve nearly finished my coffee, I’m going to keep it as one stage. The reaction here is beyond thought although I consider that you need to have completed stage four in order to react at this stage, otherwise your reaction would just be at stage two (did you go back and check what stage two was?). Stage five I feel is the ultimate achievement for a blogger/vlogger. It goes beyond simple likes and hits to actual interaction. At this stage, the reader/watcher actually reacts to the post in some way. Although you might think this is like stage two, it is actually a reaction that has some thought and consideration of the content supporting or causing the action. Adding a hashtag to the tweet is still stage two since stage five is all about the depth of understanding and engagement. Some people might promote this stage by being controversial or challenging, others just trust in the quality of their content. It might initial appear that this is a very physical response and indeed comments below post are a valid indication of this stage – if the comment demonstrates depth of engagement. But stage five can also occur without any physical presentation on the post. Engaging with the content within our own research or blog content or even using it within conversations with colleagues are examples of this stage.

  • Tim Clarke retweeted The Running Bug @TheRunningBug 6 signs you're a better runner than you used to be bit.ly/1FyjnCy #therunningbug

    Tim Clarke retweeted
    The Running Bug @TheRunningBug
    6 signs you’re a better runner than you used to be bit.ly/1FyjnCy #therunningbug

    So which stage did you achieve? I consider it a natural human characteristic to appreciate worth in what we do. This morning on my Twitter timeline there was a tweet, retweeted by @tim_jumpclarke that talked about running. In my attempt to get fit – as in healthy – I am trying to run at the gym. The quote – “running is not about being better than someone else, it’s about being better than you used to be” – is relevant since every week I seek to run faster and/or further than the week before – or even, just sweat a little less and not collapse instantly. As a blogger/vlogger, we require the engagement with our content to provide some indication of not only the worth of the blog content, but also our own worth as a blogger. Although likes, views and comments all play an important part in the creation of this worth, my own sense of blogging worth is gained from something which is that unquantifiable analytic of promoting -or provoking -thought and learning. Maybe as well as the Teach 100 badge, views and comments analytics there should also be a sliding scale with all content, whether this be blogs or sessions, that measures the amount of thought which has taken place and, if there is a badge for my website which ranks that, then I would want to certainly achieve somewhere within the top ten…well maybe one hundred…ok, just being on the scale would make me a happy blogger.

    Have fun and I’ll catch you all later.