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Preview: Books I’ll Be Reading This Summer

child facing a statute that's holding a book

There are three (open access) books I’ve been meaning to read and review, but I realized if I waited until I finished them, it would take a while, so I thought it would be good to post a “preview” here, of why I hope to dip into these books over summer.

Education and Technology: Critical Approaches

This CC-licensed e-book is edited by Giselle Martins dos Santos Ferreira, Luiz Alexandre da Silva Rosado and Jaciara de Sa Carvalho. The book “brings together texts which question the hypothetical ne…

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Why and How to Make Your PDFs Searchable

An annotated PDF in the iAnnotate app on an iPadAs I noted last week, PDF is my preferred file format for document sharing, for a number of reasons. Not all PDFs are created equally, though. I’ve found that it’s really important for files to be run through OCR (Optical Character Recognition).

Why? There are two main reasons, in my experience:

  1. Searchability. Kathleen wrote about this several years ago, in “OCR Those PDFs.” Increasingly, I find myself working with journal articles and other documents in digital format, and I need to be able…

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Open Thread Wednesday: Online Class and Virtual Attendance Challenges

Like many of you, I’m in a moment of rapid transition, with spring semester grades barely posted and summer classes already underway. For students who are motivated by their graduation pace, funding, or other needs, summer classes are a great way to move forward: when I was an undergraduate I regularly embraced the format. As a faculty member I have more mixed feelings, particularly with the rising popularity of online summer classes.

This summer I’m revisiting a difficult format that I’ve onl…

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How to Make a Time Map for the Summer

comic style calendar

At the start of summer, many academics find themselves on a different schedule than during the academic year. Maybe you don’t teach during the summer, or if you do teach, the schedule is probably quite different from your spring/fall semesters. Some service obligations continue during the summer, but others recede into the background for a couple months.

At the start of summer, it’s easy to feel that you’ve got all the time in the world. The weeks stretch ahead, full of promise. But even only t…

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Review: The Interactive Past

I frequently write here about the potential for using games in the classroom, and I’m always on the lookout for interesting transdisciplinary engagement with this idea. So I was excited to see the recent open-access Sidestone Press release of The Interactive Past: Archaeology, Heritage & Video Games edited by Angus A.A. Mol, Csilla E. Ariese-Vandemeulebroucke, Krijn H.J. Boom & Aris Politopoulos. The project is interesting both as an academic approach (it was funded via Kickstarter) and as a co…

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Openness, Permission, Courtesy and Nuances of Licenses

bee about to land on flower

I don’t know how common it is for folks to have to explain Creative Commons licenses for others, but it often feels like a “continuously negotiated” thing (to use Catherine Cronin’s term). So I recently had a conversation that went something like this, with a professor who wants to create an open textbook (the actual discussion was slightly more complex and with more people involved):

Me: so what kind of license do you want on the book?
Prof: I am happy for people to reuse it as long as they at…

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Open-Thread Wednesday: What’s Your Preferred File Type?

Screenshot of icons representing various file types

Electronic files — many of us receive a few of them every day. Often enough we also find ourselves having to share files, whether via email, shared file storage, or a website or LMS.

Unless it’s something I’ll need to edit extensively, I much prefer to receive documents in PDF format. Whenever possible, I like to work without paper, but I don’t like to carry my computer with me everywhere I go. Most of the time, I read documents on my iPad. PDF format works best for that (and there are plenty o…

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How to Learn Better with Ulrich Boser

Ulrich Boser, a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress, strongly believes that learning more about learning can benefit everyone, no matter their goals or stage in life. Learning how to master new skills and relate new information to existing knowledge is especially important as technological and societal change continually alter the kinds of work we perform throughout our lifetimes.

In his new book, Learn Better: Mastering the Skills for Success in Life, Business, and School, or, H…

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Weekend Reading: Mid-May Edition

Butchart Gardens, Victoria, British Columbia

"Torching the Modern-Day Library of Alexandria," by James Somers in The Atlantic.

On March 22 of 2011 the legal agreement that would have unlocked a century’s worth of books and peppered the country with access terminals to a universal library was rejected under Rule 23(e)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. When the library at Alexandria burned it was said to be an “international catastrophe.” When the most signifi…

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An Easy macOS Script for Converting Images to PDFs

a sheaf of contracts

One of the great conveniences about modern smartphone cameras is that it’s now much easier to submit paperwork of various types. Even if you don’t have a digital copy of the form, you can frequently fill it out, take a picture, and send the photo a long.

Except, as David Sparks explains in this handy post, it’s not quite that easy: images aren’t great to work with, and need to be converted to PDFs. And they typically have a lot of extraneous information, such as color. macOS has a variety of t…