So, I read two weeks before writing this blog entry that I had to do this blog post about hyperlinks and how I use them… and after two weeks of thinking, I still found it really hard to answer! The reality is that the question of how do you use hyperlinks almost feels like asking “How do you use oxygen?” Now I’m back to editing this post a month later, and I am still finding it really challenging. Sometimes the things we use the most in technology seem to be the hardest ones to actually articulate. The same way my résumé may have included a line about “skilled at using email” if I were teaching in 1997, now that skill is such an obvious one to have that I can’t even imagine my life without it. To articulate how I use email…. or in this case, the importance of hyperlinks to my online life… feels a bit like explaining the obvious. It is important because I live in 2014, not in 1994, or even 2004. I live in a hyperlink saturated world.
I don’t think about hyperlinks; I use them automatically. I follow links within blogs all the time. I follow links within news articles. I also have been linking to other sites within this blog (for example, in my previous blog post I included two hyperlinks). My friends send me links to articles. Hyperlinks are used all the time online because they are useful. They direct us to other potentially relevant or interesting material, and we often follow them for that reason. Yesterday a friend here in Chennai posted a link to an article in the NY Times about the 52 Places to go in 2014. Chennai is #26 on that list! Within about 3 hours, I had over a dozen friends repost that same hyperlink. They linked to the article because it was relevant, because they thought their friends near and far may be interested, and they posted it out of a feeling of pride to have our city included on the list. I also had two friends in the US email me a link to the article. Within the article itself, are a plethora of links to information about these 52 places. I followed some of them, for example, the one to learn about the Tren Crucero in Ecuador, which was still under construction during my trip there last winter.
In my classroom, I use links often to find relevant teaching materials and ideas, and I also send them to my students. For example, I may send my 8th grade students to Radio France Internationale to listen to a portion of the news in simple French or to read an article. I have never had a student ask why words are blue and underlined; our students know when they see a hyperlink that it is there to take them to further information. Clicking those links to access new information is as easy for them as it is for me. The beauty of the hyperlink is in the simplicity.