All posts by Ethan Watrall


Understanding FERPA & Educational Records Disclosure

opened lockThis past semester I had a rather distressing issue with a student that I had never experienced before. The long and short of it is that the student was extremely unhappy with the grade I had given them, and wasn’t content to accept said grade even after much discussion, explanation, and pointing to the pertinent assignment guidelines on the course website (which they had neglected to follow). Unfortunately, the situation became incredibly complex, and eventually escalated up to the office of th…


Developing a Personal Open Courseware Strategy

open access!In 2001, MIT announced that it would be launching an initiative to make large amounts of its curriculum materials freely available online. By 2002, the MIT Open Courseware initiative (OCW) had launched its first pilot website, complete with the course material from 50 classes. At this stage of the game, MIT has materials from almost 2000 of its courses available online. MIT also isn’t the only university jumping on the Open Courseware bandwagon. The Open Courseware Consortium lists about 200 …


Using Open Atrium to Manage Collaborative Academic Projects

Open Atrium LogoAs scholars, we are always involved in one project or another. Whether it is a funded grant project, a writing project, development (as in web/game/interactive/software/etc), or even curriculum/teaching work, it often becomes quite a challenge to manage things (especially if many collaborators are involved).

In situations such as these, many of us turn to tools that can keep our projects well managed and under control—some tools are online, some desktop, some tools are open source, and some are…


Notes on Organizing an Unconference

people at a conferenceWhile the term “unconference” has been applied (or self-applied) to a wide variety of events, it usually refers to a lightly organized conference in which the attendees themselves determine the schedule. In most cases, unconferences attempt to avoid the traditional unidirectional paper model in favor of meaningful and productive conversations around democratically agreed upon topics (organized into sessions). Unconferences traditionally have low registration fees, and therefore run on a much m…


Developing an Electronic Communication Policy

stacks of papersI’m just going to come out and say it: this semester was a doozy. And by “doozy,” I mean I barely hung on by my finger tips. A lot of this had to do with the sheer number of students I had, and the sheer number of assignments (written and otherwise) they had—all of which equated to an an almost daily torrent of of emails which not only took far more time than I would have liked to sort out (thereby taking precious time away from other things—both academic and personal), but became a source of in…


Building an Interdisciplinary Identity in a (Mostly) Non-Interdisciplinary Academic World

Hi there, my name is Ethan and I’m an archaeologist.  Well…maybe not exactly. I haven’t run an excavation in years, and I don’t teach in an anthropology department.  Ok, lets try this again.  Hi my name’s Ethan and I’m a digital historian.  Ok, thats a little better, its got the “digital,” and I also live (mostly) in a history department.  But, my PhD isn’t in history.   Hmmmm…ok, how about digital humanist? Well, its got the “digital,” so that’s good.  I als…


5 Easy Steps (and One Completely Crazy Step) for Surviving a Grant Proposal

For those who are following me on Twitter (@captain_primate) will know that last week (and the week or so previous) was grantspocalypse (grantapalooza, perhaps?) for me.  I was lead PI on 3 big, multi-scholar grants going into the IMLS (Institute of Museum & Library Services).  Despite the fact that they all got in on time (though, one got in with only 30 minutes to spare), I was still running around like a crazy many waving my arms in the air as the deadline approached.  The kicker is, thi…


Tips & Tricks for Effective Lecturecasting

Lecturecasting is all the rage these days.  And whether you are lecturecasting specifically for a class (either online, face-to-face, or any combination thereof), or are putting your lectures out to the wider public on a platform such as iTunes U, it takes a lot of work to get your lecturecasts to the point where they are effective vehicles for your content.

I’ve been lecturecasting consistently for a little less than 2 years now (check out the lecturecasts from my History of the Digital Age


ProfHacker 2009 Holiday Gift Guide

Gifts under the Christmas tree.It’s the Christmahanukwanzaakah season around the ProfHacker offices, and visions of sugar plums are dancing in the heads off all the good little ProfHacker girls and boys.

We’re writing our letters and baking our cookies in the hopes that someone (enter the name of your favorite holiday gift bringing entity here) will leave a shiny present under the tree (or your festive holiday object of choice) to set our little hearts a flutter with holiday joy.

What a perfect time of year for us each to sha…


End of Semester Checklist

Its that time of year – the end of the semester and the holiday season is upon us – when all we can think about is surviving 2 or 3 more days of the grading apocalypse, and then kicking back with a large glass of our favorite adult beverage, cranking Bing Crosby’s White Christmas up to 11 on the old gramophone, and doing our damnedest to forget the previous 4 months (at least for a little while). 

Despite this, however, the end of the semester (and over the break) is the absolute best time to…