Why Hyperlink to Your Own Work?

Photo by Flickr user Dennis Skley (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Working in digital spaces – particularly open digital spaces – can help you see connections across contexts.  For example, aggregating student blog posts in a course “bloggregate” (see this from Collaborative Curiosity) can make it easier-faster for you to make connections across your colleagues’ emerging ideas. Capturing all of a your assignments in one digital portfolio (or blogsite) makes it easier-faster for you to see your own improvement, growing sophistication, or connections across your work.

When I think of connected learning as an instructional designer, my mind immediately goes to the DML Research Hub connected learning framework, which encourages instructors to incorporate active, social, digital, and experiential learning  into course design.  Instructors create these sorts of environments so that students might have opportunities to make connections. But what does this actually mean?  Among other things, it’s a way to privilege holistic and social ways of learning and being. Connected learning means examining how new ideas fit into the bigger pictures of personal lifelong learning trajectory as well as their positions within the  learning community.

Connected learning is about more than seeing connections; it’s about documenting connections – making them visible for immediate and future examination.  Vannevar Bush wrote about these as associative trails. Similarly, Seymour Papert spoke about making thinking visible so that it can become sharper through concrete representation and social discourse.

Hyperlinking and embedding materials are great ways to create connections through your work.  Making a hyperlink or embedding an image or video are concrete acts – not just fleeting thoughts. They take time and, in doing so, make you work harder and think longer on exactly what you are trying to achieve.  By hyperlinking and embedding, we have opportunities to reveal patterns, to understand how coursework is relevant to us and our lives, to reflect on how far we have come, and to make plans about where we are going.  We document these paths – not only for ourselves but for our audience so that they might understand our perspectives a little better and comment on our paths.

There are a variety of reasons why a connected learner should take a moment to connect across their own work. Here are some great examples that have emerged recently from Collaborative Curiosity.

1. To draw connections within coursework.

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In a recent blog post Serra De Arment hyperlinks to connect several of her creative make metaphors: community as a tree; community as music; power visualized in terms of human senses.

2.  To draw connections across modalities.

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Anita Crowder embeds an old (but very beautiful) sketch in a blog post to help her define the community process in a novel and very powerful way.


3.  To draw connections across personal contexts.

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In this blog post, Divya Varier hyperlinks to an online description of her current work, making a connection between her academic and professional contexts.


4.  To draw connections across digital platforms.

Finally, here’s an example of Serra hyperlinking in a Twitter chat to her blog post – she used it very effectively to make a point/provide an example; however the act also allowed her to very explicitly make connections between the class conversation on Twitter and her recent work on her blog posts.

4 Comments Add yours

  1. tutormentor1 says:

    Good advice. I embed hyperlinks extensively in the articles I post at http://tutormentor.blogspot.com and that I’ve started to post at https://tutormentorexchange.wordpress.com/blog/ I consider my blog, which I’ve been wring since 2005, as an active archive that others can draw from in 2016 and in future years. I’ve also used the comment section of some blog articles to add new information on the topic. For instance I might write about poverty in the main article, but later might add links to other articles that add depth to my article. It’s another way of aggregating information about an issue.

    With this said, one of the weaknesses of the hyperlink is that as web site platforms change, the hyperlinks are often broken. This is especially true with links to newspaper stories that I point to often to make a case for some learning, or action, via my blog. It’s frustrating to go back to articles written in past years, which still have a relevant message, and find the link to the article that motivated me to write, to be broken.

    Another challenge of hyperlinks is that they take readers deeper and deeper into an issue. While that’s my goal, this actually increases the time people are being asked to devote to the article, which can be a “deal-breaker” to people who don’t have a lot of time, or don’t want to spend a lot of time, in any particular on-line space.

    What’s your perception on this?


    1. Laura Gogia says:

      Thanks so much for your thoughtful comment! I agree that broken hyperlinks are a very frustrating thing, although I try to look at it from the philosophical perspective that life is dynamic and blogging is a living artform…things change, die, move over time. A broken link is a (frustrating) ghost of what used to be. In the context of hyperlinking to your own work, however, I don’t think this is as much of an issue. In the context of hyperlinking to other sources, I believe you bring up an important point…it’s important to consider what you link – not only for content but also for platform. If you have the option of hyperlinking to the NIH database versus a privately posted pdf, you should chose the NIH database. As far as worrying about hyperlinking being a “deal-breaker,” I take an entirely different perspective. Readers only ever read what they want to read – on paper or in digital space. They skim on paper, right? That’s why we use bullet points and pull-out quotes in white papers…so that (hopefully) readers will read what we think are the main points. In digital space, hyperlinks provide in-line additional information. Readers can choose to go down the rabbit hole or not, depending on interest levels, time, or prior knowledge. By hyperlinking to other sources, you are providing them with options on their depth of reading in a neat and streamlined fashion- rather than deciding everything for them.


      1. tutormentor1 says:

        Thanks Laura. I agree with your concluding comment. “By hyperlinking to other sources, you are providing them with options on their depth of reading”. Part of my goal in participating with various cMOOCs is to connect with others and build habits of deeper learning, starting with when youth are in elementary and middle school. The result may be a stronger democracy in the future.

        Liked by 1 person

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