All posts by Amy Cavender


Open-Thread Wednesday: Anything New?

FireworksThe new academic year has arrived (or soon will, for those who start after Labor Day). Though there may be a certain sadness to the end of summer, a new academic year can also bring the excitement of a fresh start. It’s a time for meeting new people and trying new things, for faculty no less than for students.

Some new things may be major: a new course, or perhaps a new project. In my case, the new is something small. I’ve changed the first essay assignment in my writing course. For several year…


Managing Links with Nuzzel

Two parakeets nuzzling

Many’s the time I’ve been known to suggest that the people I engage with on Facebook and Twitter quit posting so many interesting links, because my reading list in Pocket is getting too long. All too often, Pocket is where links that I thought looked interesting go to die.

A few weeks back, I found a much better way to keep track of stories my social media contacts were linking to. I was listening to Fr. Roderick Vonhögen’s The Break podcast, and he mentioned Nuzzel. It’s available on the web, …


Traveling Light

A packed carry-on suitcase and backpackAh, summer, when it’s not uncommon to be traveling. Last year, I had some international travel, and one of the things that helped me survive was a keyboard case for my iPad, which enabled me to leave my laptop at home even though I had a lot of writing to do.

This year, I’m traveling internationally again, though it’s a shorter trip this time (six days instead of three weeks). I really don’t want to fuss with having to check bags, so I’m packing very light, which is something of a first for me (…


From the Archives: At the End of the Academic Year, Looking Back and Looking Forward

A desk with papers and a laptop computerIt’s graduation season; most colleges and universities have finished for the year, or will in just a few more weeks. That provides an opportunity to take stock of the year just completed, and look to the year ahead. It’s also a good opportunity to get caught up on some of the organizing tasks that often go undone in the last frantic weeks of the academic year.

Over the years, writers here at ProfHacker have provided a number of posts about things to do at this time of year:


Open Thread Wednesday: What are Your Summer Plans?

Young woman on a ropes courseWith finals  and commencement just around the corner — or already finished — our thoughts turn toward summer. Some of us will be teaching summer classes; others may be planning travel. Most of us are likely to be working on projects of various sorts, and preparing classes for the fall term.

I’ll be doing some travel, including spending a good part of June in Minnesota for the Collegium Colloquy on Faith and Intellectual Life.

I also have one major project: learning WordPress more thoroughly. I’v…


Open-Thread Wednesday: The End of the Semester Approaches!


Spring has finally arrived in the midwest, and it’s a little more than two weeks after Easter (or only just over a week, if your tradition follows the Julian calendar). For those whose academic calendar follows the semester system, that means the end of the term will soon be upon us, with commencement following.

Between now and then, we’ll be racing to get through the last of our material for our courses, grading assignments and exams, planning for commencement festivities, and saying goodbye t…


Managing Expectations

Dog on roof, asking how we manage expectationsFinding appropriate work-life balance seems to be a never-ending quest in many lines of work, and academia is no exception. It’s all too easy to work far too late into the evening, grading, preparing classes, or (everyone’s favorite!) answering email.

This year, I’ve been reminded of just how important it is to manage both my own and other’s expectations about communications and working hours if I’m to have a hope of attaining something at least resembling balance. There are a few practices I’ve…


Tools That Stay Out of the Way

A drawing showing an assortment of hand tools

Picking the right tools for our work is important. I’ve written about some of my favorite tools in this space before, including in this post from — gulp! — five years ago. (I’m still using Dropbox and Google Documents; I’ve abandoned the Rollabind for my iPad and I don’t use the whiteboard much anymore.)

Others have written about the importance of making prudent choices about the tools we use and about lessons learned from being an indiscriminate tool adopter.

As we choose our tools, it’s good …


What Ideas About Teaching Have Stuck with You?

A list of things kindergartners want to learn.I love the list in this photo. The kindergarten teacher who asked her class what they wanted to learn about got a list of fantastic answers. I’m sure being asked that question so early in their formal educational process is something that will stick with them.

There are things that stick with me, too, as I think about my own education — both as a student and as a teacher. Like many of us, I could give a list of teachers who inspired me. What’s come to mind more recently, though (probably because…


Managing Photos on Flickr

A Flicker (bird) on FlickrA lot of us here at ProfHacker have been using Flickr for quite a while. I like it well enough that I used to subscribe to Flickr Pro for the extra storage space, though I dropped the subscription when Flickr gave everyone a full terabyte of storage. I keep my personal photos there, as well as photos that I use for this blog. Every once in a while I have occasion to take a snapshot of the whiteboard in my classroom and share it with my students on our course website, and Flickr’s handy for that,…