May 22, 2013, 8:00 am
A constant here at the site is our collective fondness for WordPress, the open-source blogging platform that’s easily adapted to a whole range of needs. Indeed, one of the reasons that we’re so fond of WordPress is that it’s so easily extended and modified. The WordPress backend makes the code for the various themes readily available, and so it’s quite easy to apply some CSS and a little light PHP to make a theme of your very own.
For those new to the platform, or new to the idea of trying out their own changes, this can be as intimidating a process as it is empowering. What if I break something?!?
If you are interested in starting to tinker with WordPress, but are worried about modifying code you don’t understand, Joshua Beckman has your back. Beckman has distributed Naked WordPress, a stripped-down, heavily commented theme that explains what’s going on under the hood. (Freely…
May 10, 2013, 3:00 pm
As people on the semester schedule wrap up their year, I wanted to point to Jack Dougherty, Dina Anselmi, and Christopher Hager’s new project Web Writing: Why & How for Liberal Arts Teaching & Learning. As it says on the tin, the born-digital book aims to explain not only why faculty and students might want to develop this skill, but also how they might get started doing so. In addition to the general call for papers, there are also some small subventions available. Jack has previously co-edited a similarly-structured project, Writing History in the Digital Age. Why not submit a proposal?*
On to this week’s links!
May 9, 2013, 8:00 am
Do you have a favorite assignment? One that may or may not count for much in the grand scheme of the class, but that you always look forward to? Maybe, even, an assignment that never once makes you headdesk as you grade?
This week, I’m collecting finals and related work, which is not exactly a favorite assignment, even though (I think) the questions are useful, and the students (usually) are thoughtful. But I’m also sitting in my office and listening to my students recite the poems they’ve memorized over the semester as part of the British literature survey.
In any class where I’ve taught poetry, I have required memorization. It’s taken various forms: I used to require 40 lines, now it’s 20. In some semesters, I’ve had students memorize 14 lines from each period of the survey (so, romantic, Victorian, modernist, and contemporary). I frequently have students hand in a prose…
May 7, 2013, 8:00 am
A week ago marked the end of my second term as president of the union on our campus. Following the “logic” that if four years are enough to get an undergraduate degree, it’s plenty of time to play this particular role, I did not run for re-election. (And since I’ve argued before that being a good university citizen means self-replacement on committees, I’ll just mention in passing that I took my own advice here.)
I’ve written a fair amount on AAUP and collective bargaining issues here on ProfHacker, and that will continue. But in this post, I wanted to offer four pointers to anyone contemplating a large
servicegovernance commitment of any sort (chair, etc.). Most of these are things I probably should’ve realized four years ago, but, as a great philosopher once said, when I was young and irresponsible I was young and irresponsible.
April 19, 2013, 3:13 pm
So, it turned out to be the wrong week to be teaching a post-apocalyptic novel as a way to lighten things up in the British survey. Yikes. (Former ProfHacker Alex was in the 7/11 the suspects robbed minutes before it all went down!) All our thoughts are with those in Boston and Texas this weekend.
On to this week’s links:
- David Chartier offers a workflow if you want to “screencast iOS apps (and possibly GIF them too),” using Reflector for Mac, Screewnflow, and GIF Brewery. (Handy, but unexcerptable.)
- Katie Floyd shows “How I Organize Documents in Evernote”: Evernote also has the ability to “tag” documents with keywords which I use occasionally, but the practice of tagging never really caught on with me. As a longtime Mac user, I’ve much more comfortable using a nested files and folders system. Evernote uses the concept of “notebooks” to organize documents. Notebooks function…
April 12, 2013, 11:00 am
If your e-mail accounts have zero unread messages, have you won? And who, exactly, is the enemy?
Merlin Mann achieved internet-fame through his honest engagement with productivity talk (and he became internet-beloved, at least in certain nerdy quarters, for how he walked away), especially through a series of articles on “Inbox Zero,” a Getting Things Done-inspired approach to processing e-mail. The Inbox Zero articles became a well-known talk at Google, and even turned, for a while, into a book contract.
Now that it seems clear that there will be no book–certainly, at least, no book of tips and tricks about fiddling with your e-mail–even as Mann continues to be active in the world of productivity, someone recently asked him how he now sees “Inbox Zero,” and his answer is worth reading in full. A taste:
Given that every inbox necessarily represents a source of…
April 10, 2013, 11:00 am
After taking its own sweet time, spring arrived in a hurry in Connecticut this week, with back-to-back days at 70 degrees or better. With the arrival of spring temperatures comes the other great seasonal marker on college campuses: faculty members teaching outside.
As an unyielding admirer of air conditioning and other ecologically dubious benefits of civilization, I never take my classes outdoors. It just seems buggy and probably humid. (Plus, if there were advantages to going outside instead reading dutifully at one’s desk, someone would probably have written a poem about it or something. Clearly that hasn’t happened.)
So, ProfHacker readers! Do you occasionally (or regularly!) take your classes outdoors in good weather? Do you have strategies for making that work? For example, how do you manage acoustics? Or mitigate distractions?
Let us know in comments!
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April 5, 2013, 3:00 pm
Somehow it never ceases to amaze me how little people understand higher education, or have registered the pernicious effects of the shift away from full-time, tenure-track faculty over the past three decades. So, for example, here is Kevin Drum, who is a perfectly reasonable person, arguing that while computers might not be as good as readers at an Ivy League school, that’s not a reasonable comparison:
But the vast majority of grading isn’t done by top notch readers given plenty of time. It’s done by harried, mediocre readers. Can machines do as well or better than they do? Probably.
Harried, I’ll grant. The overreliance on adjuncts makes harried more or less par for the course.
But this notion that there is a wide gap–especially when it comes to teaching–between prestigious schools and more downmarket institutions makes me crazy, not least because it plays into higher…
March 29, 2013, 3:42 pm
This year, spring break has brought a surprise guest, as a variety of factors combined to add a new boxer (from a rescue service) to our house. This is a mostly good thing, but it also makes it hard to get adequately caught up on all the other things. Good thing there’re about 60 hours of break left . . .
On to this week’s links!