Link Farm

01-link-farm

Overview

Creating a Link Farm that updates all course links with a one-change edit provides a huge time savings. Time saving are huge at semester start up when you must update syllabi, eSyllabi, course modules, course handout, etc.

Introduction

Creating a Link Farm will save time, forever…

Burning Issue

Links change at every turn. Imagine needing to change links in five syllabi. Then, changing links again throughout five courses.

What if you could make a one-line change and the rest take care of themselves?

Link Farms deliver on this promise…

Components

Link Farms contain the following components…

  • A Dedicated Online Directory (or Subdomain)
  • A Way to Place Text Files in this Domain – FTP or a cPanel File Manager
  • A Template and a Text Editor
  • A System for Gathering and Maintaining your Links
  • The URLs that you Reference

Case Study Example: Clase Chevere Links

Why this is Important

Campuses, School Districts, textbooks and organizations change Web addresses…addresses that you place within your syllabi and courses. Personnel assignments change, departments are shuffled…

Students complain if the tiniest item in your course fails to function…maybe lowering your evaluation.

You can make better use of your time instead of changing a few links in several places for each course…each time one of these links changes.


What a Link Farm is…

One Site Fits All Link Farm

You place all the links you reference in your course in one location.

This means that you link to the reference link, instead of directly to the resource.

How it Helps Students…

This Link Farm strategy provides “Up to Date” links for all URL references. And, students are less likely to encounter a link that you overlooked if you sorted through your syllabi, resource materials and course modules.

How it Saves (Protects) Time/ Money

Link Farms save time because, once the Link Farm is online; one change is reflected in every link location.

This saves edits to multiple documents, modules, pages or handouts.

Why you should do it…

You can focus your time on useful, student-centered efforts instead of trivial, busywork editing of multiple documents.

You also eliminate student complaints about links not functioning.

In addition, when you need to look up a link, visit your Link Farm, “Right Click” on the link, and select “Copy Link Location.” Then paste the link where needed.

When not to Use a Link Farm…

Exercise caution if you complete most of your work from your on-campus office. Many organizations block FTP traffic across their network. You might need special permission from your organization’s IT Department to use FTP.

You might also need to choose an HTML link strategy if you need to copy a Link Farm into Canvas™.

You might not want to use a Link Farm if you want to communicate a message when a mouse hovers over the link

(Note: Canvas™ does not allow PHP code to run within its system. You receive a message inquiring if you want to download the PHP file.)


Strategy/ Tactics

Decide which Redirect Method that you wish to use…

  • HTML
  • HTML that hides referring link
  • PHP
  • QR Codes

Choose HTML if you want to test links on your local computer, or if you want to load these into Canvas

Choose HTML that hides referring links if you want to make link information private, and keep the link out of the Browser Address Bar.

HTML also allows you to open another Browser Window

Choose PHP if you want to run the links on a server.

Use QR Codes™ if a large number of students will be using Tablets or Smart Phones. The QR Code™, plus an App, allows the QR Code™ to substitute for typing in a link. YOu can use QR Codes as active images that also launch to a new URL.

Goals/ Objectives

Goals include…

  • Decrease first-year online course development time by 40%
  • Decrease subsequent year course development time by 60%

Note: This strategy takes some up-front time, plus diligence in collecting links during the semester.

Start collecting and converting links now.

Milestones

Here are milestones for implementing a Link Farm strategy…

  1. Link Folder or Subdirectory is Online
  2. FTP or File Manager Program Connects to and Places HTML or PHP files in the Directory
  3. Optional, but Recommended: A Link Directory Program allows Review of (and Copying) of Links
  4. List of links to be replaced in Syllabi, Course Modules, Templates, etc.

Outcome Measures

  • All links added to Link Farm…
  • Speed of redirected link: Faster is better…
  • Time Saving in updating syllabi and course modules when reference URLs are changed

Taking Action

  1. Identify the domain (or subdomain) that you will use to post Links
  2. Build a catalog of links
  3. Arrange links in categories and logical order
  4. Replace links in syllabi and course modules, documents
  5. Make changes (one time) to the link in the Link Farm

All content that references that link will now point to the new location.

Taking-Action: What you Need to Know…

Choose HTML Redirects if you want…

  • The link to open in a new tab
  • To test the links on your local computer
  • To use the same link in a QR Code

Choose PHP Redirects if you…

  • To increase your Search Engine Ranking for your site
  • To hide the link address from

(Note: The PHP Redirect is a Permanent Redirect, preferred by Search Engines.

But, depending on your Web Hosting Server, the PHP redirect can be faster, or slower than the HTML Redirect.


Tools/ What you need…

You need…

  • Website folder or subdomain
  • Text or HTML Editor
  • FTP or File Manager Program
  • Templates for creating HTML and PHP Redirect Files

Software

Text Editor

  • NotePad
  • NotePad Plus
  • TextPad

Note: Do not use MS Office or MS Word unless you save output as “Plain Text.”

HTML Editors also save as Plain Text

FTP Program

cPanel

Use cPanel access to create subdomains or folders. Subdomains are great.

For example: In http://links.domainame.com, “links” is a subdomain.

The other choice is: “http://www.domainname.com/links.”

Which style you use is your preference.

Online Services

In order to use a Link Farm, you need a Domain Name, and you need a Web Hosting Company.

Domain registrars search for available domain names. You lease a domain name…for as long as you want to keep the name.

Web Hosting companies sell a place to install your Website(s) and bandwidth that allows access.

Domain Names and Web Hosting are commodity products, and inexpensive.