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Weekend Reading: Freedom From Edition

bridge

Here’s hoping that, this Presidents’ Day weekend, folks are able to get a holiday from the current administration, in order to get a little freer headspace, or maybe even just some work done or some sleep.

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A Simple Way to Get Student Feedback Regularly

Longtime readers of ProfHackers might remember that I’m a fan of the simple solution: from putting labels on your stuff to carabiners for my keys to rubber bands around my dry erase markers to a multitool on my keyring to velcro ties around everything to a holster for my smartphone. I’m always looking for simple, relatively inexpensive solutions to everyday problems.

Recently, I’ve started doing something new in the classroom. It’s a simple little thing that I do every single time my class meet…

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The Privilege to Write

Girl and boy writing on Blackboard

[This article is co-authored with Chris Gilliard.  Chris (@hypervisible) has been a professor for 20 years, teaching writing, literature, and digital studies at a variety of institutions, including Purdue University, Michigan State University, the University of Detroit, and currently Macomb Community College. He is interested in questions of privacy, surveillance, data mining, and the rise in our algorithmically determined future.

The article is also inspired by public and private conversations…

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Take Notes with a Structured Template

books

As Jason recently reminded us, ProfHackers love to take notes. We’ve covered lots of tools and approaches to recording and searching notes, but few of these posts cover much detail about the content or structure of the notes.

As Lincoln noted in “Take Better Notes by Paraphrasing,” if you paraphrase,

You end up with a record not just of the source but of why it is important to your research. And . . . by paraphrasing while taking notes, you’ve already done some of the work towards producing a…

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Improve your Writing with Expresso

espresso

I write. A lot. But I don’t get edited very often, and I am terrible at revising my own work. I came across this little tool, developed by Mikhail Panko, a PhD student in computational neuroscience, called Expresso. You paste your text into a text box and it gives you a number of metrics directly in the text. It aims to help you find “weak spots” in your text, as well as encouraging you to paste the text of writers you admire to compare styles.

I decided to take it for a spin with my own writin…

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Cemmento Addresses the Problem of Preserving Digital Annotations

Here at ProfHacker, we’re interested in digital tools for annotation. Over the years our authors have covered such tools as Google SideWiki, CommentPress and digress.it, Reframe It and Diigo, Scrible, and Hypothes.is. And as the comments to this post asking “How Do You Annotate in Your Class?” reveal, our readers are very interested in digital tools for annotation, too.

One sticking point with such tools, however, is that the annotations that are made on a published online may become useless if…

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Focusing on Time Management Probably Isn’t Great

Stress management book with broken cup
So, the post I wanted to write for today relied on a link I’ve saved in Instapaper, which at last count has been down for a full day or so. Not great. But sometimes, the gods of Twitter are friendly, and someone will randomly post a link to the month-old article you’d wanted to write about, and all is well with the world.

The article in question is Oliver Burkeman’s excellent “Why Time Management Is Ruining Our Lives.” Burkeman’s article is exactly what it says on the tin: a strong assertion th…

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Firefox Focus Browser Provides Privacy and Content Blocking

For a few months now I’ve been intermittently using Firefox Focus to browse the web on my iPhone. It’s a free web browser for iOS, created by the Mozilla Foundation, the same folks behind the Firefox browser. What makes Firefox Focus different, however, is the fact that it’s designed to be “a dedicated privacy browser with tracking protection and content blocking.

In other words, if you don’t want your Amazon shopping history (to cite one potential scenario) being communicated to the other webs…

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Taking Notes on Primary Sources with Drupal

notebook page

As George noted in September, we’ve had a long-standing fascination with note-taking here at ProfHacker. (Heck, back before ProfHacker was a thing, I’d had a popular note-taking assignment, called Wikified Class Notes.) We’ve had posts on note-taking with AppleScript, paraphrasing as note-taking, note-taking in Zotero, note-taking with iOS, note-taking on a Nook Color … there’ve been a lot of posts about note-taking.

And with good reason! The ability to take good notes is an essential skill for…

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Why have multiple email applications on your phone?

Email applications installed on an iPhoneGiven that it was barely two weeks ago that I recommended decluttering one’s gadgets, it might seem odd for me to keep multiple email applications on my phone, but I do.

There’s a reason for that. In an effort to maintain some semblance of work-life balance, I’ve turned off all email notifications on my phone (even icon badges — I don’t want my email checking me), and I make it a point not to check work email after early evening.

Reading email from family and friends, however, doesn’t feel lik…