Category Archives: Teaching

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Leaving the LMS to Make Course Remixing Possible

peanut butter truffle

A recurring favorite topic for ProfHacker writers over the years has been alternatives to, or ways to dispense altogether with, learning management systems. No one likes them, no one likes the idea of “managing” learning, and the whole affair feels like a Skinner box designed to teach us the truth of Audrey Watters’s claim that ed tech is basically here to destroy education from within.

A few of us have recently taken a shine to Jekyll, a still-newish way to generate static websites. (In additi…

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Teaching While Learning: What I Learned When I Asked My Students to Make Video Essays

[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…

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Converting Courses for Accelerated Summer Sessions


This summer I’ll be teaching during our accelerated summer session: that means we have six weeks to cover material normally addressed in sixteen weeks of the semester. Compressing a course for summer session isn’t as simple as trying to cram everything into the new box, unfortunately: trying to cover every assignment, project, text, lecture, and activity at breakneck pace doesn’t end well for us or our students. However, it’s essential to still meet the learning objectives of the full semester….

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The Importance of Reflection When Learning Technical Skills

chairs reflecting in the sun

It’s not hard to find books, websites, or videos that will help you learn just about any technical skill you’d like, from making animated GIFs to X. But even with the most hands-on approach, it can be hard to get that knowledge to stick, or to figure out why you’d want to keep with it.

Steven Ovadia, a professor and web services librarian at LaGuardia Community College (CUNY), found himself confronting this problem while drafting his forthcoming book, Learn Linux in a Month of Lunches. Faced wi…

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10 Ways to Make Tech New Again (and Your Soul Shiny)

list of rules
[This is a guest post by Jesse Stommel, Executive Director of Teaching and Learning Technologies at University of Mary Washington, and Sean Michael Morris, Instructional Designer at Middlebury College. They co-direct Digital Pedagogy Lab. Find them on Twitter @Jessifer and @slamteacher]

Will you lose your job to a robot? According to The New York Times a couple of years ago, possibly. And this cute test from Oxford University’s Martin School lets you check whether it’s a real possibility. (As i…

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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…