All posts by Natalie Houston

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From the Archives: All About Games

Sorry board game

From playing games, to teaching with games, making your own games, and even gamifying your email — the ProfHacker archives have a lot to offer when thinking about games.

Games in the Classroom
Anastasia has written a very thorough series of posts on Games in the Classroom:

  1. Part 1 explains that games can help students through exploring content through new or multiple points of view, learning through making, and collaboration.

  2. Part 2 explains how and where to discover games that you might wan…

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Give (and Get) Some Good Advice

So how’s your middle-of-the-semester going? Some of you might be on spring break right now, or have just returned from break, or perhaps are looking forward to one next week. The vagaries of the spring calendar mean that start and end dates vary widely, along with spring breaks. Your midterm season might be over, or just beginning.

But no matter what week of the term it is for you, chances are that you know some things now that you didn’t know at the beginning — things about the particular stud…

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Back to (GTD) Basics: The Two-Minute Rule

two yellow birds

When you’re deciding what needs to be done next on a project, or in response to an email, or about that flashing light on your car’s dashboard, how do you decide if it’s something to do right away or something to put on your list for later? Do you have a bunch of emails sitting your inbox that you keep meaning to respond to but you haven’t managed to get around to them yet? The two-minute rule might help.

In Getting Things Done, David Allen’s now-classic productivity guide, he offered the “two-…

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From the Archives: Using Twitter

robinThe essential ProfHacker introduction to Twitter is Ryan’s appropriately titled post, How to Start Tweeting (and Why You Might Want To). He covers all the basics, including creating your profile, using lists, and following hashtags. But we’ve written quite a few other posts about this popular social media platform:

Making the Most of Twitter

Erin’s primer on Choosing #Hashtags explains how to make the most of this feature of Twitter.

I wrote about Using Twitter Lists to streamline your reading e…

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How to Jump Start a Flagging Discussion Class

jumper cables

If you teach a discussion-based course, you know that sooner or later, there comes a day when you notice that your students’ once-enthusiastic participation seems to have vanished. You can’t know exactly when that day might happen (though flu season and midterms both can be influential factors) so you will have prepared your course material and in-class activities as you always do. And nothing you try to do seems to be working. So what do you do next? Here are a few strategies I think of as aki…

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Tools I Use: Full Year Wall Calendar

wall calendar

Does your current calendar system help you to visualize your fixed commitments and see where your schedule has space or flexibility? Can you think about what you’ll be doing in July in relation to what you’re doing this month?

Although for my detailed daily, weekly, and monthly planning I use a color-coded Google calendar replete with reminders and recurring events, I also use a full year wall calendar to facilitate two key activities in my productivity workflow: long-range planning and habit t…

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Create Your Own ImageQuilt in Chrome

albers imagequilt

Because the human brain is wired for pattern detection, tiled image displays can encourage the discovery of meaningful similarities, differences, and trends within visual information.

A new Chrome browser extension designed by data visualization theorist Edward Tufte and software engineer Adam Schwartz called Imagequilts allows users to easily create and edit a tiled display of images resulting from a Google image search.

The image at the top of this post is the example from the ImageQuilt webs…

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Pick One Thing


So we’re almost at the middle of the month…did you make any New Year’s resolutions? How are you doing with them?

The start of a new calendar year and a new academic semester offer all kinds of possibilities. It’s a hopeful time of year as many people feel empowered to make resolutions or create new behaviors. But without making conscious, repeated choices to do something new, most people quickly fall back into their default habits and routines, especially once confronted with stressful situatio…

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From the Archives: 12 Ways to Wrap up Your Semester

  1. Back up your files.
  2. Back up your website.
  3. Declutter your inbox.
  4. Archive this semester’s email.
  5. Go all the way to Inbox Zero. Think about the zero.
  6. Do a five-minute clean up of your desk.
  7. Order next semester’s books, if you haven’t already.
  8. Consider Jason’s strategies for mitigating textbook costs.
  9. Organize your teaching files.
  10. Update your CV. Archive your old ones.
  11. Update your tenure/promotion/annual review file.
  12. Update your online presence.

[Creative Commons licensed image by flickr user aar…

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Two Months with the Basis

Basis tracker In June of this year I wrote about using the Fitbit Flex, which was the first general-purpose fitness tracker I’d used. I have used heart rate monitors and running watches for specific fitness training for many years, but only for specific activities. An athletic heart rate monitor is a fantastic cardio training tool, as it helps you monitor your exertion level very precisely, especially for interval training. But those kind of heart rate monitors are not designed for continuous use — they usual…