ProfHacker has been in existence since July 26, 2009. This is our third launch post. The inescapable conclusion? We like a party.
Today marks a new partnership between ProfHacker and the Chronicle of Higher Education. Since George and Jason founded the site, ProfHacker has focused on pedagogy, productivity, and technology, and the various ways these intersect in higher education. Not “We hear Apple’s going to release cloud-based music syncing,” but “Here’s how Dropbox has made my teaching and commuting better.” The Chronicle was interested in the idea of a site that looked at the practical side of academic life, and rather than starting one themselves, they offered to bring us on board. And so while this is our first post on the Chronicle‘s site, if you scroll down you’ll see that the entire archive of ProfHacker content is here—including the comments from our community of readers.
ProfHacker is dedicated to a few different ideas. First, it’s possible to improve all the different aspects of academic life—teaching, research, service, and, well, life. (“Improve” here does not mean “do more of.” No one’s looking to have extra committee meetings, or to ratchet up research expectations without good reasons.) Second, the way to improve these aspects is to talk about them. Talking about them is different from bitching about them—though venting certainly has its place. But we’re interested in finding out what other people are doing that works well for them. The community is smarter than any one of us. And third, as Natalie has said a few times, academic life so often functions on the basis of assumed knowledge (“Everyone knows that you should…” ). As it turns out, not everyone knows, and so ProfHacker has been a site that tries to make visible some of the hidden assumptions of academic life.
We are a unified scene: Contributors are from several different kinds of institutions, at different ranks, different geographies, and from different disciplines. We also have a weekly “Open Thread Wednesday,” which lets readers drive the agenda of what we write about.
ProfHacker‘s origin story differs from the other current Chronicle blogs. We’re not journalists, and so this isn’t really a blog dedicated to chasing the news. We’re not here to provide scoops in any of our core categories. (If that’s what you want, though, we can make recommendations.) Instead, we are simply a group of academics who share the belief that things only ever get better by experimenting and sharing methods and results. It’s that sensibility that keeps us writing, rather than any particular claim to expertise (maybe except for Julie).
For that reason, ProfHacker operates with a different commenting policy than the rest of the Chronicle. We think that there’s a benefit to allowing people a space to say, in effect, “Here’s what I’m struggling with,” or “Here’s what I’m trying.” (Note: They are not telling you, “Here’s why I’m right and you’re wrong.”) In order for that space to emerge, however, people have to trust the goodwill of commenters. You should know that we are prepared to preserve our community by deleting comments. If what you want is a place to vent your unreconstructed id, then you probably want this section of the site.
When we moved ProfHacker to the Chronicle, we brought all 3,142 reader comments along as well. Those of you who participated in conversations at ProfHacker.com will find some differences in the commenting experience within the Chronicle system: comments are closed on posts after 30 days, there is no comment threading, rich text and media can’t be included directly in the comments, and identification of the commenter is limited to the username registered to your free Chronicle account. While we hope this changes in the future, in the meantime please feel free to add a text signature to your comments so everyone knows who you are—include your name or pseudonym, a link to your web site or Twitter username, or whatever works for you. We like to get to know people.
For new readers, welcome! You will find we normally post three times a day (roughly around 10 AM, 2 PM, and 6 PM Eastern time), but during the next two weeks we will be on a transition schedule of two posts per day. During these first two weeks we will introduce new readers to our editors and authors and our content by publishing “Author Introductions” which will include links to examples of the posts you’re likely to see from each of our writers. The featured author on a particular day will then follow up with a brand new post.
As a final point of introduction (you can always learn more about who we are and what we do), we leave you with links to the top 20 posts (by hits) since ProfHacker first launched on 26 July 2009:
- Teacher-Centered vs. Student-Centered Pedagogy (by Billie Hara)
- The ProfHacker Podcast: Merlin Mann and the First Person Transitive (by Jason B. Jones)
- Putting the THINGS in GTD: Managing an Academic Life with Cultured Code’s Things (by guest author Ryan Cordell)
- A Gentle Introduction to Version Control (by Julie Meloni)
- Challenging the Presentation Paradigm (in 6 minutes, 40 seconds): Pecha Kucha (by Jason B. Jones)
- 5 Sites Your Undergrads Need to Know (by Jason B. Jones)
- Working with Creately—happy diagramming (by Julie Meloni)
- Why Students Cheat (and what to do about it) (by Billie Hara)
- Wordles, or the gateway drug to textual analysis (by Julie Meloni)
- Free online tools for images and graphic design (by George H. Williams)
- Challenging the Presentation Paradigm: Prezi (by Ethan Watrall)
- Getting Started with Google Docs in the Classroom (by Julie Meloni)
- Scrivener, Scrivening, Scriverastic (by guest author Ryan Cordell)
- Using WordPress and DevonThink Together (by Amy Cavender)
- Managing Facebook Privacy Settings (by Julie Meloni)
- Scheduling 101: Using Jiffle for Student Appointments (by George H. Williams)
- Using Wordle in the classroom (1 of 2) (by George H. Williams)
- An Introduction to GTD (Getting Things Done) (by Nels Highberg)
- Disruptive Student Behavior (by Billie Hara)
- Podcasting Your Lectures 101: Recording (by Ethan Watrall)
[Creative Commons licensed photo by Flickr user oskay.]