All posts by Anastasia Salter

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A Failure a Week

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Here at ProfHacker, we’re always looking at new things to try. The options can be overwhelming, and as Michelle Moravec noted in her look at digital humanities tools, sometimes it’s hard to know what to invest time in. Last week, Mark Danger Chen tweeted a link to a post by Adriel Wallick: “Make many games, learn many things.” The approach comes from an article on Gamasutra by Rami Ismail on making “A Game A Week.” The method is more about getting moving than creating anything “good”–on…

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Open Thread Wednesday: Snow on the Internet?

It may be March, but it definitely isn’t feeling like spring in many parts of the country. When I checked the forecast over the weekend, I was shocked to see warnings of up to a foot of snow, potentially just in time for my Monday class.

However, as I’ve been chronicling, my Monday class meets synchronously online. So if the university issues a message to students announcing that “All classes are cancelled,” what happens to my course?

Naturally, I turned to Twitter for advice. Jon Becker pointe…

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Lego and Making Things

I’ve been thinking about making things as a way to “do” scholarship for a while now. There’s an unsurprising obsession among many of those at the border of digital studies and the “digital humanities” with bridging the gap between what we study and what we publish. But there’s always risk involved in making something weird. It’s easy to know what to do with a rejected essay for a journal: there’s always another venue, and revising, while painful, is manageable. Making things is a lot less certa…

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Digital Distractions: Pokemon and the Challenges of Collaboration


For the past few days I’ve run the live video feed of “Twitch Plays Pokemon” in the background while I work. It’s  an incredible opportunity to watch attempted mass collaboration in action. The project is described as a “social experiment,” as it offers a live version of the classic game Pokemon Red. Pokemon Red is a Nintendo Game Boy title that first introduced American gamers to a world where capturing cute creatures and forcing them to battle one another is a popular sport. The franchise is …

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Making Adventure Games in the Classroom

My love of games started outside the classroom when I first discovered wannabe pirates and world-dominating evil tentacles in adventure games. Adventure games are generally story-based games where you take the role of a character on a quest. They almost always focus on puzzles rather than combat or reflex-driven gameplay, which makes them particularly accessible to new gamers. When I talk to educators who are more familiar with current mainstream videogames like Grand Theft Auto or Call of Dut…

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Adventures in Synchronous Online Teaching

A few weeks ago I discussed some of the questions on my mind as I prepared to teach my first online class. I’m now a few weeks into teaching my online-only graduate seminar, and I’m getting used to the quirks that go with eliminating the classroom.

Technology-wise, I’m relying on the university’s hosted Sakai. Our version suffers from lots of problems, including an over-complicated organization system that’s better suited to asynchronous courses than my synchronous model and a tendency to break…

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Open Thread Wednesday: Teaching Online

This semester marks a first for me in teaching: a fully online course. While every course I teach is hybrid to a greater or lesser extent, I’ve always relied on in-class discussions and activities as an anchor. The course is a graduate seminar on Information Culture, so it definitely lends itself to meta-reflection on the very nature of doing this type of work online. It’s also synchronous, so we’ll be using video chat (Adeline just suggested lots of possible systems, I’ll be using GoToMeeting)…

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Alternate Reality Games in the Classroom


A few years ago I attended my first conference with an alternate reality game implemented as a way of engaging participants as a learning community, and ever since I’ve been hooked. Amanda Visconti and I ran several conference games at THATCamps involving escaped video game characters and invading aliens. Alternate Reality Games (or ARGs) are built on the idea of a shared story invading the physical world, and can include scenarios of invading aliens, impending apocalypse, or mysteries waiting…

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Making Things and MLA 2014

I recently returned from an intense week at the Modern Language Association Conference. I’ve been attending MLA for a few years now and every trip feels like a very different conference, thanks to MLA’s scale and the endless supply of options. For someone early-career like me, that means that I try to find a thread in the giant tent of MLA that is most immediately useful to my work. This year, I found myself compensating for several months spent on very traditional writing by attending a number…

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Death Clocks and Motivation

2503766243_68052099cb_oHere at ProfHacker, we’re big fans of timers. I use them for everything from tracking time spent on various projects to reminding myself to get away from the computer every now and then. But recently I’ve noticed a new interest in a more speculative type of timer: the estimated life-countdown. Life countdown timers–or, more sensationally, “death clocks”–are all over the web, and sites like The Death Clock calculator make it easy to share the less-than-scientific results on social media. Steven P…