All posts by George Williams


Open Access Week 2016 Starts Today

Once again, it’s the time of year for Open Access Week, a coordinated worldwide effort to make Open Access “a new norm in scholarship and research.” Check out the Open Access Week site for a schedule of events taking place worldwide, a variety of blog posts, a selection of videos, and some ideas for how to get involved (at the bottom of this page). If you’re on Twitter, look for the #OAWeek2016 hashtag.

Is your campus hosting any Open Access Week events? Is this an important issue for you, your…


Weekend Reading: Hurricane Matthew Edition

Spartanburg, South Carolina — where I live — is closer to the mountains than to the ocean, but we are still getting a great deal of local news coverage of the impact expected from Hurricane Matthew. So far, we’re seeing gray skies and rain here while keeping an eye on the conditions where our neighbors live further to the east. Wherever you are, I hope that you have a safe and dry weekend. Below I’ve selected 5 links to some interesting reads plus one video.

The Luke Cage Syllabus: A Breakdown…


Open Thread: Start Thinking About Next Semester

Now that many of us are at the mid-point of the semester — Wait! How did that happen? — it’s a good time to take stock of how things are going this semester and consider what we might want next semester to be like. What lessons have you learned? Do you want to do some things differently? Do you need to make room by letting go of (or throwing out) certain things?

Please share your thoughts (and plans) in the comments.

[CC-licensed Flickr photo by Robert Couse Baker]


Iced Coffee? Iced Coffee!

I love coffee, and I conveniently generally agree with research that shows evidence of coffee’s positive health benefits (even though said benefits seem to vary widely depending on your genes). However, I don’t drink coffee because I think it might help me live longer or improve my quality of life; I drink it because it tastes good, gives me a boost of energy, and enables a little extra focus. In this way, it’s the perfect academic drink for the slump that can come mid-afternoon.

My favorite co…


Open Doors: A New Take on Teaching Observations


I’ve long been in favor of teachers visiting each other’s classrooms, and not just for the purpose of evaluation. For many of us in higher ed, what we do in the classroom is professional activity observed only by our students, and we seldom (or never) get to see how our colleagues go about the work of teaching. Sometimes we’ll be able to read others’ assignments, if they’re posted online or — as in my department — accidentally left in the photocopy machine. But actually watching and learning fr…


How I Learned to Stop Resenting Blackboard and Start Using BB Grader


I’ve never been a fan of Blackboard, the monolithic learning management system that’s the standard at so many schools. I’ve always found it slow, poorly designed, and very awkward to use. Recently, however, my attitude changed (slightly) when a colleague introduced me to BB Grader, a free iPad app for Blackboard designed to make the grading process in Blackboard mobile-friendly.

As an English professor, most of what my students produce for me are essays. I long ago switched to a mostly paper-fr…


Do Your Students Take Good Notes?

Whether — and how — students take notes in class is an evergreen topic in discussions of teaching and learning. Unfortunately, I often find myself frustrated and annoyed when I’m explaining something in class and look out at a room full of students who are, admittedly, paying attention to what I’m saying but writing down not a single thing in their notes. Frustration and annoyance do not make for good pedagogy, though, and my off-the-cuff comments in response to this particular student behavior…


Haiku Deck Introduces “Classroom” Option

Back in June of 2013, I wrote a brief post about Haiku Deck, which at the time was simply a free iPad app for creating and showing presentations. In the last 3 years, Haiku Deck has evolved to include web-hosted presentations (and the ability to create presentation through a web-based interface). Unfortunately, if you want to be able to create more than 3 presentations you’ll now have to pay. The most affordable option is signing up for a “Pro” account for $10 a month (though teachers and stude…


LibGuides: Best Use Scenarios?

I’ve always been kind of ambivalent about LibGuides (and similar tools for helping people navigate topics in the library). If you’re not already familiar with LibGuides, here’s a quick definition courtesy of the Library Success wiki: “A LibGuide is a content management and publishing system created by SpringShare. Libraries may use LibGuides to create subject guides, course guides, information portals, or research help pages to name a few.” You can find many examples across a wide range of topi…


Re-Thinking Students’ Community Involvement and Education

Recently I’ve been reading about the LEAP (Liberal Arts and America’s Promise) Challenge from the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AACU). Writing in a recent issue of the AACU’s Liberal Education, organization president Carol Gear Schneider explains that “The key concept at the center of the LEAP Challenge is that all college students need to prepare to contribute in a world marked by open or unscripted problems—problems where the right answer is far from known and where sol…