linking intelligence

One of the advantages of technology in education is the way in which multimedia delivers literacy. This can be as simple as portraying a poem by William Wordsworth, “The world is too much with us.” This is a static rendering, similar to what we might find in a book.

The world is too much with us
by William Wordsworth
The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers;
Little we see in Nature that is ours.
We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon !
This sea, that bares her bosom to the moon,
The winds that will be howling at all hours,
And are up-gathered now like sleeping flowers–
For this, for everything, we are out of tune;
It moves us not. Great God! I’d rather be
A pagan, suckled in a creed outworn,
So might I, standing on this pleasant lea,
Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn;
Have sight of Proteus, rising from the sea,
Or hear old Triton blow his wreathed horn.

A more dynamic use of media to enhance understanding of this poem is to use links. For example, I’ve placed a link in the poet’s name in order to provide biographical background. If you allow the cursor to linger on the link without clicking through, known as a flyover, you’ll get the briefest information about the poet. Once you’ve clicked through, you’ll find a page-long biography written by a university scholar.

The flyover feature provides a very useful function in that it answers a question that may form in the reader’s mind, without the reader having to leave the ‘page.’ [Note: not all linking mechanisms are capable of producing flyovers. Google docs does.] This feature is reminiscent of books of poems that contain word definitions placed in the margins by editors.

Clicking on the link provides a deeper level of information, but it does not stop there. The linked page itself ( provides many further links. Conceivably, you could follow them ad infinitum to receive a wealth of information about the Victorian Age. The point is, depth through linking is almost limitless.

Now, read the poem, allowing the cursor to ‘flyover’ each of the links as you go. Even if you know the definitions, seeing them can help you to understand the meaning of the poem. By clicking through any of the links in the poem, you can gain even greater understanding. Most of the words link to Wiktionary, an online dictionary which provides etymologies and other useful information about each word. The links for Proteus and Triton take you to a discussion of Greek gods in Wikipedia, surely not comprehensive, but a start to knowledge that will help us get through the poem. The word lea is understood better through a visual, so the link takes us to a photo (from Google images).
Has our understanding of the poem been helped by these simple tools? Perhaps. What about comprehension? Probably not. However, if we learn best by answering the questions that come up in our minds as we are reading, then the linking tool certainly provides convenience. We use intelligent linking to answer our most immediate questions.



  1. April 1, 2008 at 3:32 pm

    […] 30, 2008 at 11:45 pm (March 2008) Tags: multimedia, tools Thursday I proposed a lesson in poetry using aspects of multimedia. The convenient thing about using […]

  2. lhuff said,

    April 7, 2008 at 9:13 pm

    I’ve long been fascinated by creating links in a literary work. More specifically, I’ve been searching for a simple way to have students create the links in a given text. I’d love for them to be able to annotate a text via links: include their questions, connections, commentary. I’ve explored several routes for doing so, including <Ann Woodlief’s web text boxes and <CommentPress at Edublogs. Neither–though CommentPress comes close–quite accomplishment the goal of having a simple way for students to publish–in an attractive format–an annotated text they’ve created. Do you know of any other tools/strategies for tackling such a project?

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