All posts by Anastasia Salter

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Open Thread Wednesday: Teaching for Night Owls and Early Birds


One of my favorite parts of being a professor is this continual reset. Every semester there are new classes and new students along with a completely new schedule. While this is mentally exhilarating, it can be difficult to rebuild a routine every few months. A few years ago, I found myself teaching classes regularly that met until nearly 11pm at night. As someone who is usually ready for sleep at 10, that took a lot of adjustments and new strategies to keep both the students and myself fully en…

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Examining Design through the Prezi Awards

Prezi, a Flash-based tool for “zooming” presentations, has been divisive among academics since it was first introduced in 2009. The platform has  come a long way over the years–when I first used it for my dissertation defense visuals in 2010, it was impossible to do much to change fonts, colors, or backgrounds outside a few preset themes, but I still thought there was potential in the interface’s ability to juxtapose ideas on what amounted to a virtual whiteboard. It now has a much more customi…

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Weekend Reading: Cyberpunk Future Edition

It’s been a great few days for those of us ready for a cyberpunk dystopia. Microsoft’s Windows 10 announcement came hand-in-hand with a demo of Microsoft HoloLens, their prototype of a holographic platform for computing. The project is only one of many headsets currently exploring augmented and/or reality, with new rumors on Oculus Rift (now supported in the Firefox browser), Google’s MagicLeap, Samsung’s Gear VR, and many others all vying to be the first to take VR and AR from ill-fated ga…

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2014: 5 Games to Learn From

As the year winds to a close, it’s a great time to take a look back at some of the games that stood out in serious and educational gaming. If you’re thinking about picking a new game for a class, keep an eye on the coming game awards season. There are a number of venues that showcase great educational games each year. The Serious Games Showcase & Challenge highlighted several winners this year, including National Geographic’s game The Underground Railroad: Journey to Freedom and University of …

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Hour of Code


December 8th through 14th marked Computer Science Education Week, along with a week-long push for Hour of Code, an initiative in procedural literacy through beginner-friendly tutorials with particular attention to groups that remain underrepresented in STEM. While many of the community events and initiatives are aimed at K-12, the tutorials and resources from the project and the initiative itself can be valuable for us to take a look at in higher education.

Obama kicked off the week of code by

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Open Thread Wednesday: Productivity for the Holidays

For most of us, the end of semester is either at hand or fast approaching, and with it the prospect of a couple weeks of unscheduled time. Of course, this time isn’t truly unscheduled: even if you’re lucky enough not to have any meetings, there are probably many deadlines and projects looming, possibly an annual conference, not to mention family gatherings and holiday fun and obligations. I’ve realized lately that it’s actually easier for me to schedule my life and work when classes are happeni…

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Exploring Interactive Texts through IFComp


Every year, a number of game designers and storytellers share new works through an annual Interactive Fiction Competition, IFComp. Interactive fiction is, broadly put, any type of story that allows the user to take a role or control the narrative experience. There are several interfaces for this type of narrative: parser based IF uses verbs and nouns as a way to enter commands, and parses them into action, while hypertextual IF offers links and is often compared to Choose Your Own Adventure boo…

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Open Thread Wednesday: Harvard, Attendance, and Acountability


Last week, Harvard made the news thanks to a study conducted through secret photographs of lecture halls as a way to monitor attendance. The debate over ethics in the study is ongoing, and of course the reality is that with all the course management tools dominating our education system we’re all subject to much more monitoring than we are aware of. However, this study made me think about something I’ve struggled with in my first semester at a big university: what does a great attendance policy…

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#AcWriMo, #DigiWriMo, #NaNoGenMo and November Writing Sprints


November is, for many of us, a month of deadlines, pre-final anxiety and grading, and the inevitable incursion of the holidays. It is also an incredibly popular month for writing sprints and challenges, which thoroughly embrace the spirit of “fail faster” as a way to try something new or get further in a stalled project. The spirit of November is best expressed through NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month, an event that brings together a huge community of writers telling stories. The same…

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Digital Distractions: ARGs and Endgame

A new book by James Frey and Nils Johnson-Shelton, Endgame: The Calling, launched earlier this month. The book chronicles twelve players representing ancient cultures who are trying to save their societies with the fate of the world at stake. If you picked it up without knowing the full story, it would seem like a disappointment as a book: the players are presented with clues, but the puzzles and mysteries are left unsolved. This is because Endgame isn’t so much a book as the launching point fo…