February 19, 2013, 11:00 am
If you’ve been reading ProfHacker for a while, you probably know that one of our primary goals is to talk about those things in academia that people simply don’t talk about. If you’re here–so the logic goes–you must already understand <insert topic of choice here, like which are the prestigious journals in your field>, and so we won’t bother to teach you these things. But these things are important; it turns out that knowing the hidden information of the university is a really powerful way to make yourself more effective in your career.
It also turns out that in some ways academia is very much like the keyboard you’re probably sitting in front of right now. Sure, it’s got those familiar 36 alphanumeric keys. But like academia, the keyboard has hidden information that will make you more effective in your career: keyboard shortcuts.
Keyboard shortcuts can be a great way to get…
February 6, 2013, 11:00 am
As I write this, we’re just a short 36 hours away from the most important weather event of the year: Groundhog Day. And while I know that everyone loves Punxsutawney Phil, I’m a personal supporter of General Beauregard Lee, who lives here in the South with me and has a much higher accuracy rate.
Bill Murray aside, the reason we’re all fascinated with Groundhog Day is twofold. First, now that the winter holidays are over and we’ve slogged through January, we all feel entitled to get to Spring as quickly as possible. Second and more to the heart of the species, weather can have a tremendous effect on us, our ability to get work done, and even our ability to get to or from work. (Fellow ProfHacker Mark Sample was recently stranded at Dulles for more than 36 hours when the January 25 storm came through.) If you want posts about your commute and how to hack it, we’ve got them.)…
January 23, 2013, 8:00 am
Now, you might think that there’s not a lot that you need to know about searching with Google. It more or less does what you want it to: find what you’re looking for on the Internet. But then again, I’m betting that ProfHacker readers know a thing or two more about searching than the…
January 16, 2013, 11:00 am
Recently, I’ve been thinking quite a bit about shame. Some of this comes from the Freakonomics podcast, which I’ve become enamored of. (If you’re looking for something to listen to, ProfHacker readers have previously chimed in about their favorite podcasts.) An episode from January 2012 discussed the problem of hand-washing among doctors who—contrary to what one might guess—tend to have the worst hand hygiene practices at hospitals. The solution to the problem: shame. Public announcements of those who have not been following hand sanitation procedures at staff meetings led to a dramatic increase of hand-washing at L.A.’s Cedars Sinai Medical Center. Shame, as the Freakonomics team likes to point out, is a tremendous incentive to change behavior.
Changing behavior is also something that my wife and I have been thinking about: specifically that of our children during dinner time….
January 9, 2013, 8:00 am
Last weekend, two of the largest academic conferences of the year took place: the annual meetings of the American Historical Association (AHA) and the Modern Language Association (MLA). A good portion of the ProfHacker team was at one of these two gatherings, giving presentations, listening to talks, and tweeting up a storm.
One of the staples of these two conventions (as well as any other that I have ever attended) is the book exhibit. Academic publishers bring their most recent titles to show off, hoping to sell a few copies that might turn into larger course adoptions. The sales are often made more attractive by the inclusion of a discount of 15%, 20%, or even 30% off list price. As Jason and I wandered around the MLA’s book exhibit on Saturday, we not only took in the amazing demonstration of the ChronoZoom beta by Microsoft Research but also shared something like the following …
December 18, 2012, 11:00 am
At the beginning of the semester, I wrote about an experiment that I had underway to grade differently. To recap, I told my students that I would only give “straight” letter grades on the essays that they would write in my first-year writing class—no pluses, no minuses. My reasons for taking this approach were, as I explained, to lighten the feelings of conflict that I get when grading essays that fall between the margin of grades. As I wrote then, “My thinking behind this decision is that while it might be hard to know the difference between an 87 and an 88, or sometimes even between the dreaded B+/A- split, I absolutely do know the difference between an A and a B paper. I expect to see a sharp drop in the amount of stress that I feel as I grade the four essays I’m assigning this semester.”
Today I wanted to report back on how this particular experiment has gone with my…
December 10, 2012, 11:00 am
With the end of classes and the advent of…well, advent…it’s time for that post of all posts: the annual ProfHacker holiday gift guide!
To help you do better than you otherwise might during the Airing of Grievances, we’re here with a boatload of suggestions for your family, your friends, your colleagues, and even (on occasion) for yourself. Given the nature of our blog, you’ll see the expected recommendations for tech tools to increase your productivity. But it turns out that many a ProfHacker loves to read, some of us like to exercise, and a few of us like to cook. (All of us like to eat. You seriously don’t want to get in the way at the ProfHacker family cookouts.)
So when you need a break from grading students participation, just peruse the list and make some really tough decisions. And if you don’t find something you like here, we’ve got lists from 2011, 2010, and 2009 (AKA…
December 4, 2012, 11:00 am
Before I finished grad school, I took a month-long seminar on teaching with technology. Among other things, we talked about how to build an “interactive syllabus” using that Tool of Tools: Dreamweaver. I seem to recall the instructional design team spending two hours talking about how to format tables correctly in order to assure we got proper alignment. Fast-forward a few years, and I almost never build a web page from scratch. Instead, I use blogs in almost all of my classes: it’s a much simpler way to publish to the web.
It turns out many of us here at ProfHacker use blogs in the classroom. That explains why we’ve got posts on creating a printable syllabus from your blog (rather than vice versa), evaluating student blogs, re-using course blogs, moving your blog, and better blogging assignments. Blogs are great, and they help you get your work done, in an online space that…
November 30, 2012, 8:00 am
We’re probably at the point here at ProfHacker where we might not have to tell you that we tend to like all things Google. So I was plenty interested when Gmail rolled out a new interface for writing a few weeks ago that makes it a lot easier to multi-task while writing emails.
In the past, composing email worked in the same way that reading them did: it took up your entire screen. The new writing environment drops a compose window in the lower-right corner of your inbox.
November 29, 2012, 3:00 pm
It can be hard on occasion to remember that we live in a time when everything is amazing. Computers are, of course, one of the most amazing inventions of the last one hundred years, but that doesn’t mean that they can’t drive you crazy as well.
Perhaps one of the most amazing / crazy-inducing parts of using a computer is copy / paste: ”Wait, you mean I don’t have to retype this entire paragraph that I would like to cite in my article? I can just select some of the text and drop it in? OMG!!!” Copy and paste really does feel magical…until you see how that new piece of text will so often screw up the formatting of the document, email, or blog post you’ve been writing: “WAIT. No, why is the text formatted like that? Why is it in a different font and in bullets that don’t line up with mine! GAH!!! I’ll just retype the whole thing!”
Fortunately, there’s a simple and quick cure…