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Posts by Prof. Hacker

August 12, 2010, 03:00 PM ET

How to Rip DVD Clips

DVDs[This is a guest post by Jason Mittell, Associate Professor of Film & Media Culture and American Studies at Middlebury College. Jason blogs at Just TV.]

In my previous post, I detailed how the new DMCA exemption allows all faculty to legally rip excerpts from DVDs for educational purposes, whether in-class lectures, online posting in a digital publication, or at conference presentations. (Anyone interested in the legal issues raised by the ruling should definitely read law professor and fair use advocate Peter Jaszi's commentary.) I have found that even among film & media studies professors, who have had a similar but more narrow exemption in place since 2006, one of the chief obstacles to exercising this right to rip is not legal, but technological. Even faculty who are fluent in video editing software can find the ripping process technically cumbersome and confusing.

It's important to...

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August 6, 2010, 03:00 PM ET

Weekend Reading: Guest Author Edition

radiation[This is a guest post by Gerry Canavan, a graduate student in the Program in Literature at Duke University who is writing his dissertation on British and American science fiction in the twentieth century. He can be found at his blog and on Twitter at @gerrycanavan. Jason B. Jones will be back with more Weekend Reading next week.]

Sixty-five years ago today, the United States detonated an atomic bomb two thousand miles above the city of Hiroshima, Japan. Last year the Boston Globe's Big Picture blog marked the occasion with photographs from that day and its aftermath; I have also always been struck by the Ground Zero 1945 art created by survivors at Children of the Atomic Bomb.

With solemnity, here are some links to start off the weekend:

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July 29, 2010, 11:00 AM ET

Boundin’ = Bound + Rebound

Boundin'[This is a guest post by Aimee L. Pozorski, an associate professor of English at Central Connecticut State University. She is also the president of the Philip Roth Society, and is completing a book on trauma in Roth's later works. Previously, she posted at ProfHacker on "The Secret Link Between Refinishing Furniture and Academic Research."]

Last year, for the first time, I was invited to teach a two-part course to juniors in our university's Honors Program that would help them with their honors thesis, the program's capstone project. The sequence is numbered Honors 440 (Thesis Preparation) and Honors 442 (Thesis Workshop); the former is offered in the fall, and the latter is offered in the spring, along with Honors 441 (Honors Thesis): a one-credit course all students take with an advisor in their academic major. My bit, then, involved supporting students through the process of...

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July 28, 2010, 03:00 PM ET

Nurturing the Mind-Body Connection

biking[This is a guest post by Meagan Timney, a postdoctoral fellow at the Electronic Textual Cultures Laboratory at the University of Victoria. She is also an avid triathlete and has competed both at the national and international level. If she's not at the lab being a computer geek, you'll probably find her in the pool doing laps, on the roads riding her bike, or running on the trails in and around Victoria. You can email her at or follow her @mbtimney.]

"To keep the body in good health is a duty, for otherwise we shall not be able to trim the lamp of wisdom, and keep our minds strong and clear."—Buddha, His Life and Teachings

I've always felt as though I had a split personality. On the one hand, I identify as a scholar, but on the other, I see myself as an athlete. My sporting life has seen variousincarnations: a competitive gymnast, runner, swimmer, and...

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July 27, 2010, 03:00 PM ET

Letting Us Rip: Our New Right to Fair Use of DVDs

DVD[This is a guest post by Jason Mittell, Associate Professor of Film & Media Culture and American Studies at Middlebury College. Jason blogs at Just TV.]

This week saw the release of a seemingly minor bit of legal policy that has a major impact on academic uses of technology, expanding the scope of legal ways to extract video clips from DVDs for purposes of criticism and commentary. (An earlier post by Kathleen Fitzpatrick provided additional information on this ruling with regards to jailbreaking phones and accessing eBooks.) This ruling on DVD circumvention has a potentially transformative impact on faculty and students across a range of disciplines, and can hopefully help spur innovative scholarship and pedagogy. In this post, I'll detail the policy shift and consider some of the ways it can be applied in teaching and research; in a follow-up post in a few weeks, I'll offer a more...

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July 26, 2010, 08:00 AM ET

Celebrating ProfHacker's First Anniversary

number 1From one point of view, ProfHacker is an idea: that you should actively participate in making your work in higher education better—whether that's understood as "less stressful," "more efficient," "more engaging," or any other metric. What "better" means is up to you: ProfHacker simply suggests that "trying things yourself" is likelier to help you get there than "complaining about them."

Of course, ProfHacker is also a website, and one year ago today we began posting at the original site at (that post has since found a new home at the Chronicle, as have we). Ethan was actually the site's first commenter, in a post the next day. From that humble, WordPress-generated post, we quickly added writers (Brian! Julie! Ethan! Jeff! Alex! Natalie! Amy! Nels! Billie! Heather! Erin! Ryan! KFitz!) and readers.

Such readers! It's possible no website has had such friendly, supportive—...

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July 20, 2010, 08:00 AM ET

Using Failure to Reflect on our Teaching

FAIL stamp[This is a guest post by Janine Utell, who is an Associate Professor of English at Widener University in Pennsylvania. She teaches composition and 19th and 20th century British literature; she has also facilitated a number of on- and off-campus workshops on writing, critical thinking, and general education. You can follow Janine on Twitter: @janineutell.]

For a lot of ProfHacker readers, the semester has been over for a couple of months now, and as we get closer to preparation for a new academic year, we might be more ready to look at our teaching with fresh eyes. For some of us, maybe reaching this point took awhile: time, space, decompressing, some journaling, confiding in friends, a lot of hand-wringing, teeth-gnashing, garment-rending, self-loathing...

Or maybe it's just me.

In the past, I've found a lot of generous and useful writing on ProfHacker addressing these impulses...

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June 21, 2010, 08:00 AM ET

'How are you going to grade this?': Evaluating Classroom Blogs

blogging tips[Editor's Note: This post was written jointly by Jeff McClurken and Julie Meloni.]

Several of us at ProfHacker incorporate blogs into our pedagogy, and we have written on a range of course blog-related issues such as "Integrating, Evaluating, and Managing Blogging in the Classroom" (Julie) and "Tools for Managing Multiple Class Blogs" (Amy) among many others. In this post we (Jeff and Julie) will offer a few specific tips for evaluating course blogs and addressing the common question "how are you going to grade this?"

No matter how the evaluation criteria is spelled out on the syllabus and reiterated throughout the course itself, students are likely to continue to ask "how are you going to grade this?" Jeff notes he also receives this question frequently from other professors when they hear about his blog-related assignments.

As with all assignments, Jeff says his method for grading...

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June 15, 2010, 08:00 AM ET

Motivating Students with Application Projects and Poster Sessions

posters[This is a guest post by Derek Bruff, assistant director at the Vanderbilt University Center for Teaching and senior lecturer in mathematics at Vanderbilt. In prior guest posts, he has discussed the use of multiple-choice questions on exams and using WordPress as a platform for pre-class reading assignments. You can follow Derek on Twitter (@derekbruff) and on his blog.]

In recent years, I've taught mostly "applied" math courses like "Statistics for Engineers" and "Linear Algebra for the Social Sciences." The latter course I took over from my colleague John Mackey a few years ago. John suggested that I have students complete end-of-semester projects that would allow them to explore applications of interest to the students. I took him up on his advice, and, after tweaking the assignment over the years, my application project assignment is now an integral part of most of my courses.


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May 25, 2010, 02:00 PM ET

Integrating Digital Audio Composition into Humanities Courses

Edison Phonograph[This guest post is by Jentery Sayers, who is a PhD candidate in English at the University of Washington, Seattle. In 2010-2011, he will be teaching media and communication studies courses in Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences at the University of Washington, Bothell. He is also actively involved with HASTAC. You can follow Jentery on Twitter: @jenterysayers.]

Back in October 2009, Billie Hara published a wonderfully detailed ProfHacker post titled, "Responding to Student Writing (audio style)". There, she provides a few reasons why instructors might compose digital audio in response to student writing. For instance, students are often keen on audio feedback, which seems more personal than handwritten notes or typed text. As an instructor of English and media studies, I have reached similar conclusions. Broadening the sensory modalities and types of media involved in feedback not only...

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