Technology

From Homeric Writings to Cellphone Forensics, Some Favorite Online Resources

David Plunkert for The Chronicle

November 06, 2011

The Chronicle asked professors what Web resources they've found most useful in teaching and research. Here are excerpts from some of their answers.

Ari Kohen, associate professor of social justice and political science, and director, Forsythe Family Program on Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs, U. of Nebraska at Lincoln.

I originally purchased my iPad so that I could eliminate paper in my classes and in my conference presentations. Instead of carrying around pages and pages of lectures notes or papers, I could just put everything on the iPad. At the same time, I was also working on a book (which I've just completed and sent out for review) on classical heroism in Homer and Plato.

One of the apps I discovered was called Imaging the Iliad. It combines digital images of the Venetus A manuscript of Homer's Iliad (the oldest complete copy in existence) with an English translation of the text. Having this app allowed me to look closely at the specific word choices that Homer made and then consider whether the translations that are most commonly used best capture the ideas Homer wanted to get across to the reader about heroes like Achilles and Odysseus. What might have taken many hours in a library—or what might have required travel to a library with copies of certain manuscripts—I could now do at my desk, or even on my couch.


Online Learning: The Chronicle's 2011 Special Report

BROWSE THE FULL ISSUE: News, Commentary, and Data
BUY A COPY: Digital and Print Editions at the Chronicle Store


For my contemporary-political-theory course, I created a separate account on Twitter, and I required my students to set up accounts of their own and to "follow" the class account. I post questions there a few times a week, generally before and after each class. And students can then choose to answer the questions, ask one another questions, and generally discuss the readings with one another. No one is required to participate; in fact, after setting up their accounts in the first week, students need not ever use Twitter again. That said, I encourage them to participate because my sense is that there are some very real benefits to doing so. Twitter can break down barriers between people who are generally perceived to be far away from us in some way, like professors might seem to students, by allowing students some access to the thoughts, ideas, or even day-to-day activities of professors. In this way, I hope to become even more accessible to my students.

Additionally, I believe that using Twitter allows quieter students to participate in ways that might seem less daunting to them. It also might encourage them to speak up in class by allowing them to start the discussion before class even begins and by giving them additional insight into the opinions of their classmates.

Mary Spataro, director, Center for Innovative Teaching, Seton Hill U.

Seton Hill University is committed to using technology, especially mobile technology, to advance student learning, in part through the Elite professional-development program for faculty and the Griffin Technology Advantage program for students.

The Elite program teaches faculty members how to maximize educational use of mobile technologies, iPad apps, and Web 2.0 tools. They receive MacBook Pro laptops and participate in training throughout the year, exploring ways to expand the classroom beyond four walls. For example, teachers develop video documentaries about historic buildings and use apps, such as Corkulous, to help teach writing. When they finish the Elite program, faculty redesign a course, integrating technology and interactive learning experiences.

The Griffin Technology Advantage puts a MacBook Pro laptop and an iPad into the hands of every full-time student. Students take advantage of interactive electronic texts, such as those at Inkling. Language students create podcasts with GarageBand.

Students on clinical rotations may record data on their mobile devices and upload the information to a central system. Biology majors use the iPad to record and then analyze lab data. Students across majors have been adding multimedia components, like podcasts or videos, to their assignments.

To make sure the infrastructure can support all these uses, the university upgraded its wired/wireless data system to provide constant gigabit Ethernet capability to each user's desktop, secure wireless connectivity for mobile devices, and traffic prioritization for seamless Voice Over Internet Protocol technology across 25 campus buildings in three locations.

John Bukowski, professor of mathematics, Juniata College.

As a math historian, I have been excited to see the increased availability of original sources online over the past decade or so. Two resources stand out for me. One is the Euler Archive, a collection of the many works of the famous 18th-century mathematician Leonhard Euler. The site contains a searchable database of Euler's works, with translations of some of the papers. I have used the archive for some of my own research, and I occasionally use it in my mathematics classes. The Euler Archive was developed by two graduate students at Dartmouth, and it is now hosted by the Mathematical Association of America (eulerarchive.maa.org). Another site I find very useful is Gallica (gallica.bnf.fr), a digital archive maintained by the French National Library. While this site contains documents from a wide variety of subjects, I find a lot of interesting historical mathematics there.

Darren Hayes, chair, Computer Information Systems, Seidenberg School of Computer Science and Information Systems, Pace U.

 The field of computer forensics is rapidly evolving. On average, there is roughly one new cellular telephone every three days, and Gartner research has predicted that media tablet sales will more than triple in 2011 to 63.6 million units. Because the array of mobile devices is so diverse, for a multitude of diverse technologies, academics have become increasingly reliant on online resources to keep their students apprised of the latest methods of forensic analysis. Every time a new Apple device is released, there are changes in that device's operating system and programs. The Apple Examiner (appleexaminer.com), owned and maintained by the Mac forensics expert Ryan R. Kubasiak, is an excellent resource for finding out the latest developments. Even more invaluable information can be acquired by joining online groups on services like LinkedIn. For those interested in computer forensics, these groups include Cyber Crime 101, Future Crimes, NYC4SEC, and iPhone Forensics. Online digital-forensics organizations like SWGDE (swgde.org) and SANS (sans.org) produce terrific white papers. And students like YouTube and other video tutorials, too.

John Spurlock, professor of history, Seton Hill U.

 Although I have yet to incorporate digital archives into my research, I make use of them in several of my classes. The best example is my course on World War II. Because this course is both online and on a compressed schedule (seven weeks), I give students a choice of preset research topics that come with easily accessed online resources. The unit on Holocaust perpetrators makes use of the Yad Vashem Holocaust Resource Center's site. The unit dealing with the motivation for serving in the armed forces directs students to the Rutgers Oral History site (oralhistory.rutgers.edu).

As part of "New Nation," a course on the Revolutionary era, there's a unit on Native Americans, and groups trace the relations among various tribes and the government using treaties between the United States and the Indian nations. Those pacts are collected in "Indian Affairs: Laws and Treaties," provided by Oklahoma State University, at digital.library.okstate.edu/kappler/Vol2/Toc.htm.