All posts by Anastasia Salter

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Productivity Through Accountability

Finding the motivation to persevere through lengthy tasks with no end or reward in sight is a major part of being an academic: the process of writing a thesis is metaphorically compared to training for a marathon for a reason, and both certainly result in plenty of pain before the pay-off. I use running as my main strategy to counteract many hours spent at the computer, and I’ve found that signing up for a race and committing to a training plan is the only way I make any progress. It’s not unli…

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4 Suggestions for Planning a Productive Summer

Depending on your school’s academic calendar, summer might be upon you or at least close at hand. I’m already a week into the summer semester, and looking ahead at several weeks of teaching, grading, and conferencing. Every summer I set out with inflated goals and unrealistic deadlines: three months away from the normal schedule of meetings looks so promising on paper! However, it’s easy to end up with less progress than expected. Here’s a few strategies I use at the beginning of summer to make…

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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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Reflecting on Grids and Gestures

Last week I wrote about Nick Sousanis’s call for an experimental week of comics-esque journaling, Grids & Gestures. Along with many folks on Twitter, I participated in this daily exercise of chronicling a day through a grid and a series of gestures, loosely defined, without trying to “draw” so much as interpret ideas and emotions. There are several reflection posts from the week: check out thoughts from Amy Burvall, Jenny Mackness, Mariana Funes, and Kevin Hodgson. I particularly relate to Yin …

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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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Going Low-Tech with Paper To-Do Lists

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While at ProfHacker we are continually watching for more efficient and helpful technological solutions to the everyday challenges of academic life, sometimes the right pad of paper is better than the most feature-rich app. This year has put more stress on my schedule than any prior, thanks to a combination of progressively larger classes and several online classes, Keeping my projects going against a tide of student emails and grading sent me looking for a digital solution: I’ve tried Natalie’s…

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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…

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Digital Distractions: Interactive Cats

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With my semester hitting crunch time, I’ve been using a number of digital distractions for quick breaks in between grading and editing. The internet is, of course, great at providing cat pictures for those who turn to Facebook or Twitter for diversion — but there’s also a number of recent awesome cat-centric interactive works that can provide both cool models of interactivity and cuteness. Here are three of my current favorites:

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Planning a Successful Virtual Class Visit

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I’ve been fortunate to have opportunities to virtually give several classroom talks using Skype or Google Hangout. I love these types of conversations because they give me a chance to engage with students in other disciplines and institutions, but I’ve been hesitant to invite people to my own classroom. Several concerns tend to hold me back: a desire not to impose on peers for what can become another service commitment, particularly for those who get these requests constantly; fear of technolog…

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Using DataBasic for Simple Data Analysis


I love teaching with visualized data: something as simple as running a text through Wordle (a word cloud tool) can reveal all sorts of fun things about what’s going on in a text through making patterns more visible. However, a lot of the tools for next-level data analysis aren’t particularly easy to use and can be overkill for simple lessons. Northeastern University’s Storybench recently released A set of tools that I find nicely streamlined for classroom use is DataBasic, created by Rahul Bhar…