All posts by Anastasia Salter

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Digital Distractions: Interactive Cats

catcomputer

With my semester hitting crunch time, I’ve been using a number of digital distractions for quick breaks in between grading and editing. The internet is, of course, great at providing cat pictures for those who turn to Facebook or Twitter for diversion — but there’s also a number of recent awesome cat-centric interactive works that can provide both cool models of interactivity and cuteness. Here are three of my current favorites:

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Planning a Successful Virtual Class Visit

phone
I’ve been fortunate to have opportunities to virtually give several classroom talks using Skype or Google Hangout. I love these types of conversations because they give me a chance to engage with students in other disciplines and institutions, but I’ve been hesitant to invite people to my own classroom. Several concerns tend to hold me back: a desire not to impose on peers for what can become another service commitment, particularly for those who get these requests constantly; fear of technolog…

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Using DataBasic for Simple Data Analysis


I love teaching with visualized data: something as simple as running a text through Wordle (a word cloud tool) can reveal all sorts of fun things about what’s going on in a text through making patterns more visible. However, a lot of the tools for next-level data analysis aren’t particularly easy to use and can be overkill for simple lessons. Northeastern University’s Storybench recently released A set of tools that I find nicely streamlined for classroom use is DataBasic, created by Rahul Bhar…

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Making Games with Browser-Based Flowlab.io

Last semester was the first time I encountered a new challenge for my online class: some of my students were using Chromebooks as a primary computer. Several ProfHackers have tried Chromebooks out with mixed results, but I find the biggest challenge they present is the limitation on development software options. Picking the right game-making tool to assign for students requires careful consideration: many platforms are limited to either Mac or PC, making picking a tool that all students can use…

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Open Thread Wednesday: Conducting Observations in Online Classes

The evidence against the effectiveness of student evaluations as a way to measure instructional success or gather feedback for redesigning courses is mounting. However, while many institutions have established peer or faculty center observation programs for getting more direct feedback on teaching, online courses can feel more isolated. It’s not easy to invite a fellow faculty member to “observe” an online class in the traditional sense, and getting immediate feedback from students can be diffi…

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Digital Scholarship with Scalar 2


Creating a work of digital scholarship can be daunting. Last year I published a piece called “Alice in Dataland 2.0″ (Kairos 20.1) that represented an incredible labor of mapping, organizing, and combining platforms from Twine to Construct 2 to hand-coded HTML5 and JavaScript into a fairly massive hypertext. The task is not one I’d recommend to other individuals setting out on a scholarly project, so as I think about my next work I’ve been investigating platforms that can make digital scholarsh…

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Making Comics as Scholarship

For the last few years, I’ve been collaborating with Roger Whitson on editing Comics as Scholarship, a special issue for Digital Humanities Quarterly. The open-access issue is now available and may be of interest to anyone experimenting with alternatives to the monolithic scholarly essay. The collection includes six comics written and designed by scholars as ways to think about using comics to communicate as part of humanities discourse:

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Scaling Up Courses

With the new semester upon us, many people are getting ready to try out new course preps or revisit familiar classes. The too-brief break of the holiday season doesn’t provide much time for preparation, so I find the last days before the semester begins can be a frantic time for revision and planning. I’ve previously addressed strategies for revising a past course, which can be particularly helpful if the dynamics of the course remain generally the same. However, increasing demands on universit…

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Simple Visualizations with D3plus

I’ve been using D3, a JavaScript library for data visualizations (the three ‘D’s stand for Data-Driven Documents), for my own projects and with my students for some time. It’s a particularly cool tool for working with dynamic data or information from a database and giving it life in a visual format through charts, graphs, and interactive data displays. Information visualization can be a powerful way to represent complex or otherwise inaccessible data. However, the learning curve for it is a lit…

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Open Thread Wednesday: Handling Holiday Wellness


It’s the time of year when parties are abundant, grading and deadlines are looming, and health often goes out the window. As an undergraduate, I was particularly guilty of bad behavior during finals week — I’d often go to the one on-campus shop that took our meal plan points and pick up a bag of Oreos and a carton of milk to fuel paper-writing and coding sessions that meant hours of sitting at my computer without moving. Finals weeks and the holiday season around campus can inspire similar desi…