June 23, 2010, 3:00 pm
This past semester I had a rather distressing issue with a student that I had never experienced before. The long and short of it is that the student was extremely unhappy with the grade I had given them, and wasn’t content to accept said grade even after much discussion, explanation, and pointing to the pertinent assignment guidelines on the course website (which they had neglected to follow). Unfortunately, the situation became incredibly complex, and eventually escalated up to the office of the President.
One of the many issues in play was the disclosure of the student’s records. One of the student’s parents called me requesting information about the student’s performance in the class. I repeatedly refused to give the requested information, saying that under FERPA (the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act), I was prohibited from disclosing student educational records (even to a…
June 11, 2010, 11:00 am
In 2001, MIT announced that it would be launching an initiative to make large amounts of its curriculum materials freely available online. By 2002, the MIT Open Courseware initiative (OCW) had launched its first pilot website, complete with the course material from 50 classes. At this stage of the game, MIT has materials from almost 2000 of its courses available online. MIT also isn’t the only university jumping on the Open Courseware bandwagon. The Open Courseware Consortium lists about 200 or so member institutions around the world. This number doesn’t include universities that aren’t officially part of the Open Courseware consortium (but have some sort of institutional effort to put course material online) and individual faculty who are putting their own course material online without any institutional support. In the United States alone, some fairly significant institutions such …
May 25, 2010, 10:00 am
As scholars, we are always involved in one project or another. Whether it is a funded grant project, a writing project, development (as in web/game/interactive/software/etc), or even curriculum/teaching work, it often becomes quite a challenge to manage things (especially if many collaborators are involved).
In situations such as these, many of us turn to tools that can keep our projects well managed and under control—some tools are online, some desktop, some tools are open source, and some are proprietary. All are different, with strengths and weaknesses which will ultimately determine their value to your particular scholarly project. Among the vast cornucopia of collaboratively inclined options, I would like to suggest that people have a look at Open Atrium.
The brainchild of Development Seed, Open Atrium is essentially an intranet in a box. It allows for the creation of…
May 17, 2010, 2:00 pm
While the term “unconference” has been applied (or self-applied) to a wide variety of events, it usually refers to a lightly organized conference in which the attendees themselves determine the schedule. In most cases, unconferences attempt to avoid the traditional unidirectional paper model in favor of meaningful and productive conversations around democratically agreed upon topics (organized into sessions). Unconferences traditionally have low registration fees, and therefore run on a much more conservative budget (compared to more traditional meetings or conferences). The other thing that sets unconferences apart from traditional conferences is that they usually have far fewer attendees. It is not uncommon for unconferences to be attended by no more than 75 to 100 people.
Despite the fact that the unconference idea got its start (and is still going very strong) in the tech sphere…
April 30, 2010, 2:00 pm
I’m just going to come out and say it: this semester was a doozy. And by “doozy,” I mean I barely hung on by my finger tips. A lot of this had to do with the sheer number of students I had, and the sheer number of assignments (written and otherwise) they had—all of which equated to an an almost daily torrent of of emails which not only took far more time than I would have liked to sort out (thereby taking precious time away from other things—both academic and personal), but became a source of incredibly irrational stress (one night a couple of weeks back I actually dreamt that every time I answered one email, three more spawned in its place.).
The end result is that, for the first time ever, I’m very seriously considering developing a formal electronic communication policy. When I say “electronic communication,” I’m not only talking about email, but other channels like IM and Twitter…
February 8, 2010, 2:00 pm
For those who are following me on Twitter (@captain_primate) will know that last week (and the week or so previous) was grantspocalypse (grantapalooza, perhaps?) for me. I was lead PI on 3 big, multi-scholar grants going into the IMLS (Institute of Museum & Library Services). Despite the fact that they all got in on time (though, one got in with only 30 minutes to spare), I was still running around like a crazy many waving my arms in the air as the deadline approached. The kicker is, things probably would have been a lot worse if I hadn’t embraced several (relatively) simple strategies designed to manage and mitigate the grant writing process.
Now, to be clear, these strategies aren’t about writing a successful grant, they are about managing the grant proposal process so that you don’t end up in a mental institution. Because, and let’s be completely honest here,…
January 25, 2010, 2:00 pm
Lecturecasting is all the rage these days. And whether you are lecturecasting specifically for a class (either online, face-to-face, or any combination thereof), or are putting your lectures out to the wider public on a platform such as iTunes U, it takes a lot of work to get your lecturecasts to the point where they are effective vehicles for your content.
I’ve been lecturecasting consistently for a little less than 2 years now (check out the lecturecasts from my History of the Digital Age class for examples of me doing my thing), and I’ve found that effective lecturecasts are as much about the little things – the things that might not be so obvious – as they are about the “big issues.”
And in the spirit of “the little things,” here is a list of (relatively) simple tips, tricks, and thoughts that will hopefully contribute to producing better lecturecasts.
December 17, 2009, 2:00 pm
It’s the Christmahanukwanzaakah season around the ProfHacker offices, and visions of sugar plums are dancing in the heads off all the good little ProfHacker girls and boys.
We’re writing our letters and baking our cookies in the hopes that someone (enter the name of your favorite holiday gift bringing entity here) will leave a shiny present under the tree (or your festive holiday object of choice) to set our little hearts a flutter with holiday joy.
What a perfect time of year for us each to share an item or two (or three or four) off of our own holiday wish lists (or one or two items that we already own and get a lot of use out of) in the hopes that they might help all of you, our loyal readers, in your profhacking endeavors of 2010 (and beyond)
I’ve been doing a lot of audio recording and editing (mostly lectures). While I use a wireless lapel mic for recording the …
December 17, 2009, 10:00 am
Its that time of year – the end of the semester and the holiday season is upon us – when all we can think about is surviving 2 or 3 more days of the grading apocalypse, and then kicking back with a large glass of our favorite adult beverage, cranking Bing Crosby’s White Christmas up to 11 on the old gramophone, and doing our damnedest to forget the previous 4 months (at least for a little while).
Despite this, however, the end of the semester (and over the break) is the absolute best time to do one or two little things that will have a big impact down the line (either in the long term or the short term). So, here are a few things that are on my end of the semester checklist.
Backup my Course Websites
I run all of my course websites on WordPress (or WordPress MU). And, as you know, WordPress stores all of data in mySQL. All user data (logins, passwords, account info, etc.), …