Selling me softly…

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An oddity.

A link in an online workshop took me to 7 Alternative Technology in the Classroom Presentation Tools, an article by Daniela McVicker posted in TeachHub, a wing of the K-12 Teachers Alliance.

Probably published in March 2017 (that’s when Internet Archive first saved the page), it provides a quick introduction to 7 presentation tools, alternatives to PowerPoint. Some were new to me, some I already knew, one is my presentation tool of choice. McVicker gives us recommendations for Emaze, Google Presentations, Keynote, Prezi, Nearpod, Tellagami, Haiku Deck and Powtoon.

What jumped out at me as I read was her critique of Keynote (that’s my own preference for presentation). It’s the last paragraph which gave me pause.

These tools can only do so much. Let us not forget the quality of contents. If you are too busy to write or research for more information about your presentation, online writing services such as okdissertations can help you out.

Very true – too many presenters seem overwhelmed by the fun (?) aspects of presentation tools that they attend more to these than the content; they ignore one of the cardinal rules of presentation: just because you can do something different with the software does not mean that you have to do it.

But this particular message …

The link takes us to a site called OKdissertations – a site which is definitely NOT OK:

It is a custom essay writing site.

It’s just incongruous. In an article with advice for teachers, there is a link to a site teachers would (we hope) not use themselves and would not want their students to use either.

There are several other links in the course of the article, but this is the only one which takes us off-piste. All other links take us either to the app itself or to a page within TeachHub.

Has the page been subtly hacked? Surely McVicker did not include this in the piece herself?

That’s when I checked the Internet Archive, that’s when I found the first copy of the page, dated 8 March 2017.  And sure enough, the mention of OKdissertations was there from the start.

I wanted to ask McVicker if this was indeed her work or if someone had somehow added to her article. Unfortunately, the author-link at the top of the page does not take us to a mailto: form or contact box. It simply self-refers to this page in TeachHub.

Google! A search for [“daniela mcvicker” presentation] brings up more than 600 hits. Before I contacted her through LinkedIn (hit number one), I scrolled down to sample some of those hits.

She seems quite prolific – and perhaps uses numbers as a prompt. Hits include links such as

Creating Catchy Blog Content – 10 Rules of Engagement
4 Easy Steps to Creating a Successful Facebook Page for Your Business
7 secrets for email marketing
7 steps for creating a business plan
6 Lessons I Learned about Empathy
5 Ways to Look for Factors That are Keeping Your Conversions Down

and so on.

McVicker doesn’t just write about education and technology; she seems quite eclectic. I started skimming through some of her articles. And found more incongruities.

In 7 Gadgets to Make Your Teaching Effective (3D Printing in Education?), in a section on e-book readers,

there’s a link to TopWritersReview, a site which reviews and rates and links to “top-rated” custom-essay writing sites

In another post, 7 secrets for email marketing that you mustn’t forget, in the first section on “Tools and services for email marketing,” there are short reviews for MailChimp, Active Campaign and Get Good Grade.

Get Good Grade? The segment reads

Sometimes editing or formatting won’t be enough to save your marketing campaign from postponed launch. To that end, Get Good Grade offers trustworthy and professional writing services for many types of online content including email.

Get Good Grade features beginner discounts, loyalty programs and a versatile pricing system which can be adjusted to fit just about any pocket. Make sure to check this platform out if you need email content written on a short notice and don’t know how to do it yourself.

and sure enough, it leads to

There is a brief bio at the foot of this page,

About the author: Daniela McVicker is an author and editor at Rated by Students and Supreme Dissertations. She is a firm believer in freedom of information, quality online content and trustworthy news outlets. She loves reading poetry and classic literature pieces which serve as a baseline for her career development as a writer.

Supreme Dissertations is another of those sites…

McVicker does not try to hide herself and she is not blatantly advertising these sites. She just insidiously slips in a reference or two in each piece she writes, and some of the sites she writes for may be respectable indeed (such as the TeachHub site). You just can’t be too careful.

Indeed, on the DivorcedMoms website, McVicker comes clean. We read

She is also a blogger, freelance writer, and editor at TopWritersReview.

On the EmergingEdTech site, she is equally open:

Daniela McVicker is a freelance writer and editor for Essay Guard and All Top Reviews, an online writing help service.

Just a final word – her Selfeducation Tips. Her latest blog post here appears to be Want Your Blog to be Noticed? Step Away From The Keyboard! posted in June 2018.

Here she blatantly promotes out-sourcing. One section is headed “Your Talents Are Probably Better Used Elsewhere” as she suggests that some people are better at writing than you are, so why not give someone else to write for you?

[If you don’t write your own blog, methinks, if you get someone else to do it for you, then it’s not your blog, is it?]

There’s a curious footnote, the bio at the foot of the page

Does Daniela McVicker outsource her material, is she telling us she takes her own advice? Who is Luisa Brenton?

Perhaps it’s split-personality-syndrome. The About Me link on her site takes us to a page headed About us (but there’s no mention of any alter-ego).

If you want to know what others think about McVicker, you are out of luck. Although one of the links on the Selfeducation Tips site is for Reviews,  this turns out to be links to (McVicker’s – or Brenton’s) reviews of custom essay-writing sites, not reviews of the Selfeducation Tips site.

BUT, and here’s the big thought:there is huge difference between (on the one hand) outsourcing your writing, having a ghost-writer write your copy, even if you do not mention that your advertising, your press release and possibly even your blog have been written by someone else and (on the other hand) outsourcing your dissertation, your thesis, your paper, your extended essay or homework to a custom essay site and then submitting this as your own for academic or similar credit – which is just the service which most of the sites which McVicker promotes are there to do.  That’s the line which McVicker crosses, pretending to promote one while encouraging the other.

I have been sparing with my links in this article. If you want to follow my trail or go directly to some of the sites mentioned, it is easy enough to find them. I won’t take your hand and take you there. What I want to do with my hands is wash them, I feel sullied.

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And as a footnote, I’ve suggested to the workshop providers that they no longer promote the McVicker article, if necessary find something else.

2 thoughts on “Selling me softly…

  1. Why am I no longer surprised but rather just saddened by this. It’s part of the zeitgeist of now with the idea that everything can be outsourced, perhaps started with “the four hour work week” movement.
    It’s also an indictment of the research and academic community that many post-docs and other academics are probably driven to being part of this as they can’t make a living wage in academia.

  2. Great article, John. I feel like you that I need to wash my hands. It feels really quite duplicitous and way this person operates. I wonder how many more are out there.

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