Category Archives: Reviews

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Review: The Videographic Essay – Criticism in Sound & Image

Film

I have long been interested in assigning alternatives to the standard essay, and so I read Janine Utell’s recent guest-post here on teaching with video essays with great interest. I’ve long admired what Ryan has accomplished with his unessay assignment, and even tried to do my own kind of assignment using the great resource Writer/Designer: A Guide to Making Multimodal Projects. I have yet to be successful in assigning a great not-essay assignment in a traditional literature or writing course, …

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Review: Revisiting Smartwatches with the Garmin Forerunner 235

When Pebble Kickstarted back in 2012, I couldn’t resist jumping in to see what this idea of a screen on my wrist might lead to. While I was enthusiastic about the concept and possibilities when I first reviewed it, I ultimately ended up abandoning it for a number of reasons, with poor ergonomics (it looked and felt ridiculous on my tiny wrist) and a painfully low battery life top of the list. Now, there are a lot of players in the smartwatch game, including Apple and Samsung, and I’ve been lu…

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Text a Lot from iOS? Why You Might Want to Try Google’s GBoard

wall of surfboards

Alternate keyboards in iOS are one of those things that sound helpful, but can quickly devolve into procrastination engines. For every Text Expander keyboard letting you use your full panoply of text expansion options on your devices, there’s a celebrity-sponsored emoji app.

Last week, though, Google managed to release a keyboard that is simultaneously useful and not creepy: Gboard.

GBoard does four things, each of which is in principle a great addition to typing on iOS:

  • Integrated Google se…
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Keeping Track of Bills with FileThis

Bundles of messy files stacked on a deskBills! Sigh.

There’s no getting around it: finances are one of the many things we have to keep track of. Fortunately, there are tools that help keep us organized and on top of things. Heather’s covered personal finance software, Erin’s suggested ways to check in on your insurance, and Adeline’s looked at a helpful tool for reorganizing your finances.

I recently learned about another tool that may be helpful to some: FileThis. Using the service is simple: you connect your online accounts (includi…

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How to Ask Great Coaching Questions

question marks
Over the last two decades, the field of personal and professional coaching has grown and diversified. Today, the International Coaching Federation website

offers a directory of coaches specializing in everything from ADD to leadership to spiritual development. In the corporate world, coaches are frequently employed within organizations as well as hired as outside consultants. Although coaching is less well integrated within academic institutions, a growing number of coaches specialize in worki…

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Attending to Smartphone Apps

food
The app economy, we’re told, is “bigger than Hollywood.” Apple likes to boast of how many jobs its app store has created, and even the president exhorts the young folks to program their phones, not just play with them.

Yesterday, The Verge published a great story by Casey Newton on the collapse of the app store’s middle class, where all those “bigger than Hollywood” dollars go to an increasingly concentrated set of firms, mostly in gaming, messaging, and entertainment, and the vast majority of …

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Data Visualization With Knoema

Colorful network data visualizationAnyone who’s had to deal with large amounts of data will be well aware that sometimes a visual can be extremely helpful in understanding that data. This map of states party to the Convention on the Rights of the Child that I tweeted out last November is a case in point:

Map showing which countries are parties to the Convention on the Rights of the Child

Even if I were particularly skilled at creating visualizations, I might not always have the time available to do so, or to locate the data I need. Having access to a service that already has the necessary data and that can use t…

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An Experiment with Student Portfolio Management

box-graphic

[This is a guest post by Jim Cracraft, an Assistant Director at Vanderbilt University’s English Language Center (ELC), which offers English language support to individuals who have a first language other than English. He can be reached through the center’s website: http://vanderbilt.edu/elc/]

One of the final assignments in a business writing course I teach involves having students write an action plan based on an assessment of their writing over the course of the semester. They create portfoli…

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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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The Storm of Creativity: Meditating, Not (Necessarily) Producing

[This is a guest post by Janine Utell, who is a Professor of English at Widener University in Pennsylvania. She teaches composition and 19th and 20th century British literature; she has also facilitated a number of on- and off-campus workshops on writing, critical thinking, and general education. Previously at ProfHacker, she’s written on “Practical Wisdom and Professional Life”, “How to Study Your Own Teaching (And Why You Might Want To),” “Visualizing Your Promotion Portfolio with Cmap,” an…