Category Archives: Software


When the Technology Changes on You

When we use technology extensively in our teaching (or work in general, really), how do we handle unexpected changes to that technology? Here are some thoughts and workarounds. (note: this was inspired by the recent change on Twitter from stars to hearts)

A Website Disappears

Someone recently tweeted about how a website suddenly disappeared a few hours before she was planning to use it in her class. I pointed her to the Wayback Machine (if you haven’t heard of this, it’s an internet archive – y…


Making a WordPress Site Multilingual

A parade of flags from many different countries.WordPress is a favorite tool of many of us here at ProfHacker. It’s great for running a course website, maintaining a professional portfolio, running a blog (ProfHacker runs on WordPress), or managing almost any other sort of website, really.

Every once in a while, there’s a need to present a site’s material in more than one language. If the material in question is really short, the solution is simple enough: just make the page or post a bit longer by including the additional languages right the…


Managing Macs & PCs in Online Courses

When I was in middle school, the lab was filled with Apple computers, including very early versions of iMacs. I worked with the school’s resource teacher and helped out with hardware in the labs, and we continually argued over the merits of Mac versus Windows PC. Macs were winning out in schools due to a push on educational software and their relative ease of maintenance, while PCs offered an ease of upgrading and access to a world of software rarely ported onto Mac’s smaller market share. I na…


Making Games for Web and iOS with Stencyl

In this series, I’ve looked at a lot of newcomer-friendly tools for making games in the classroom or as projects with and for students, including Twine, Scratch, Construct 2, inklewriter, Inform 7, and Adventure Game Studio. While some of these tools are successfully cross-platform, many of the best tools for making graphical games are PC-only. This year, I’m teaching an online course that includes game development as part of exploring digital narrative. As students aren’t meeting in a universi…


Tweeting with Collaborators: Group Tweet vs TweetDeck Teams


Have you ever worked with a team of different people, all of you needing access to the same Twitter account (representing an organization or project you all work on) at different times? Of course, the intuitive thing to do is to share the password to the account, and to all be logged on to it. However, this is not optimal for several reasons:

  1. If you are like me in a different country from your collaborators (most of mine are in North America), Twitter gets suspicious and will put you through …


Visualizing Your Searches with Trailblazer

I’ve been writing about my use of as a collaborative annotation tool this semester with the students in our introduction to literature class (see my ProfHacker post from this summer on my selection process). The tool so far has been a huge success and the students have been getting a lot out of the process. But one thing that has stumped me is how to help them navigate the process of actually going online and starting to find the contextual and referential materials they need to fin…


Who Speaks at Meetings? Find Out with GenderTimer

Complex Balance

Nobody really likes meetings, but, at the same time, one has to work with other people. (How unpopular are meetings? It looks like US Office of Strategic Services used typical meeting strategies as guidance for how to sabotage enemy organizations.) The fact that nobody likes meetings, of course, doesn’t mean that we don’t like them in quite the same way.

A topic that I’ve tried to become more aware of recently is gendered differences in meeting behavior. Although it frequently comes labeled wit…


Content Blocking in iOS 9 with Adamant

One of the most popular, if controversial, features of iOS 9 is the built-in support for content blockers in Safari. On the one hand, I think most people are probably willing to pay for quality content; on the other hand, a lot of pretty awful stuff goes on in the world of online advertising, especially on mobile devices. Trying to access many mobile sites, especially mobile news sites, can result in massive amounts of data and battery use … just to get to the ads. It’s one thing to agree to wa…


Preparing Lectures for Large Online Classes

This semester, I’m teaching a fairly large (130 at final count) online course in digital media. I wrote last month about some of the strategies I’ve used to prepare the course, including thinking about replacements for in-class activities and planning a highly structured series of content. However, one of my biggest challenges has been planning an alternative to lectures. I’m used to thinking of “lecture” as a dialogue, with opportunities for interaction, connection, and breaking up the class i…


Dropbox’s File Request Eases Receiving Files and Assignments


At a conservative estimate, ProfHacker writers have posted eleventy-billion times about Dropbox, the popular near-ubiquitous service for saving, syncing, and sharing files. And with good reason! It’s a great service, fast, and convenient–especially for people who use several different computers and devices over the course of a day, it’s frequently the glue that makes that work cohere.

This summer, Dropbox released two new features–one of which might be particularly appealing to academics: file …