Category Archives: Teaching

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5 Ways to Make End-of-Semester Grading More Enjoyable

I know I know. Enjoyment isn’t usually something we think we should be seeking about grading… Right? I had originally titled this post “how to make grading fun” but thought no one would take me seriously.

Let’s backtrack a minute. Don’t most of us do research about our field and sub-specialty because we value and enjoy it? Hopefully yes. Don’t most of us teach a particular subject because we care about it? Hopefully yes. The next logical step for me is that we should be able to enjoy assessing …

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Text Analysis With Voyant 2.0

Voyant Logo

A few weeks ago, coincidentally during Day of DH 2016, it was brought to my attention that Voyant, a web-based text analysis tool, had upgraded to Version 2.0.

Voyant 2.0

This has been a popular tool with ProfHackers (I’ve written about using it as has Brian), and the new version is a great improvement. The list of changes includes:

  • a cleaner, crisper appearance

  • better cross-platform and mobile device support (all tools in HTML5, no Flash or Java Applets)

  • advanced search capabilities, including wil…

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What I Learned from Student-Created Learning Taxonomies

My assignments are often inspired by things I learn about from my Personal Learning Network (PLN), and this particular assignment is inspired by several people. The assignment I recently gave my students (who are largely freshmen learning about educational game design as part of a core curriculum course on creativity) is to develop their own learning taxonomy, in any shape or form, with any items that they feel are important to their learning. The idea of the assignment was inspired by a an act…

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Thinking through Comics with Nick Sousanis’s Grids & Gestures

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This week, comics artist and scholar Nick Sousanis has drawn many into a creative comics-making activity that can be great for thinking about visual communication in and out of the classroom. Nick Sousanis is known for his incredible comic dissertation-turned-book, Unflatteningrecently released from Harvard University Press. This exercise, “Grids and Gestures,” is a type of visual diary-making that encourages playful thinking and mark-making without trying to represent “things” as much as con…

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Showcasing Digital Student Work

Digital projects have been at the center of a number of ProfHacker posts: the easy and free availability of cool tools for making things gives us all sorts of possibilities for the classroom. However, works produced in the classroom often have a very small audience, with peers and the professor serving as the only guaranteed audience. Creating opportunities for showcasing digital student work for outside audiences can provide incentives and recognition for great student work while also creating…

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Experimenting with Specifications Grading

Noted media scholar and friend-of-ProfHacker Jason Mittell has been experimenting with a new way of grading, called “specifications grading,” on the grounds that “figuring out a way to rethink the culture of grades would be the most effective and impactful reform” available at a school such as Middlebury.

Mittell borrows specifications grading from Linda Nilson (also see her book), and in Mittell’s description at least, it sounds very like what many of us know as contract grading (see also), ex…

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Planning a Successful Virtual Class Visit

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I’ve been fortunate to have opportunities to virtually give several classroom talks using Skype or Google Hangout. I love these types of conversations because they give me a chance to engage with students in other disciplines and institutions, but I’ve been hesitant to invite people to my own classroom. Several concerns tend to hold me back: a desire not to impose on peers for what can become another service commitment, particularly for those who get these requests constantly; fear of technolog…

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NearPod for Class/Workshop Polling

Last week, Amy Cavendar wrote about using Google Forms for polling. I agree with the general direction of moving away from “clickers” that need dedicated hardware and instead using software that allows students to use their own mobile devices (phones, tablets, laptops) to respond. However, I use polling often in my classes and workshops I give to faculty, and I prefer NearPod. It is by no means the only good tool with a free option (e.g. Socrative). I give a workshop on technology-enhanced lear…

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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…