Downloadable PDF: Embedding Pro-Tips
The development of this student information/handout was informed by the content analysis of 489 student blog posts from four Virginia Commonwealth University courses that took place in the summer of 2015. The handout emphasizes the qualities of the best student work, while working to alleviate some of the most commonly observed weaknesses in student practice (such as failing to properly credit sources).
Let’s walk through some examples.
All of these examples came from my own blog, Messy Thinking.
In the first column, we have images that impact the aesthetics of the blog – the pretty picture at the top of the post…the clip art next to a section header. These are great – there is nothing wrong with making your blog express your personal aesthetic. HOWEVER, I could have done better. I failed to credit the photographer for the first photo (it happened to be my photo from a recent trip to Barcelona). Furthermore, I failed to explain to you why it was there. Because I’m the author of the post, I know that I wanted a picture that reflected isolation and self-reflection, because that was how I was feeling when I wrote the post. But I did not share that with you. I would have done better to add a descriptive caption: “A Reflective Moment. Photo Credit: Laura Gogia.”
In the second column, we have images that illustrate – in other words, they provide clear connections between the blog content and the picture. In the first annotated photo, I still should have credited the artist (again, it’s my picture – this is my daughter exploring Boston Public Library. I annotated the photo using Canva). However, even without a caption, there’s a clear connection to the post content – the post was about why I teach, and I teach to inspire curiosity, which I said in the post. This is clearly an illustration of what I am writing about. In the second I did a better job of captioning to tell you exactly what the pictures are and how they illustrate things described in the post. Illustrations are good, but there’s something even better.
In the third column, we have an image and video that extend the narration. This is the golden tuna – this is what you want to try to do with some if not all of your images and videos. In the first example, I had created a map of all the places in which I traveled while writing my dissertation. I refer to it frequently throughout the post. In many ways, this picture is the center of post; the post would not be the same without it (and for the record, I did a better job of giving myself and my creative digital platform better credit this time – in the body of the post). In the second example, I used a music video as a metaphor for what I was trying to describe. I refer to it frequently in the post – again, the post would not be the same without it.
Not every image or video you embed is going to extend the narrative, but when embedding for aesthetic appeal, you should be asking yourself, “Can I upgrade this to an illustration or an extension?” And always always credit your source. Images are like text – if you use it, you have to cite it unless it’s public domain.