All posts by George Williams

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Shrubs: A Refreshing Summer Drink

On a recent lunch-time pizza outing, I was introduced to a non-alcoholic drink I’d never heard of before: a shrub. The drink served at our table was a mixture of vinegar (stay with me, here), strawberry & rhubarb, sugar, and carbonated water. While a drink with a vinegar base might sound less than appealing, it was really very good! Doing a little research, I discovered that — as the the New York Times explained last year — “[t]he modern American shrub … has roots in England, when vinegar was …

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New WordPress Plugin for Hypothes.is

Back in January, Maha wrote about her use of Hypothes.is, a collaborative web annotation tool that works within your web browser. As Maha explains, this tool gives readers who are all assigned the same readings a choice: they can “do these readings in isolation, or they can read them in asynchronous collaboration with others who had read and annotated them beforehand; they can learn from what others have been saying about those reading.” Hypothes.is has a great many potential uses for education…

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To Test for Accessibility, Try Navigating Without Your Mouse

A significant percentage of those who use your web pages are people with disabilities, and many of those people can’t use a mouse to navigate through the information they find there. For example, for people who are blind or have low vision a graphical user interface is useless, so they rely on their keyboard alone. Those of us who are sighted might find it difficult to imagine what it means to navigate information by keyboard alone, but there’s an easy way to learn: stop using your mouse for an…

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GAAD 2016: Raising Awareness About Accessibility

Today is the 5th annual Global Awareness Accessibility Day. The purpose of this day “is to get people talking, thinking and learning about digital (web, software, mobile, etc.) accessibility and users with different disabilities.” Who is GAAD for?

The target audience of GAAD is the design, development, usability, and related communities who build, shape, fund and influence technology and its use. While people may be interested in the topic of making technology accessible and usable by persons w…

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Open Data Button Aims to Set Data Free

This week, the people who brought you the Open Access Button have released the beta version of their new “Open Data Button,” a browser add-on with a simple but powerful purpose:

Download the Open Data Button for your browser. Next time you’re reading a research paper and you want to investigate the data behind it, push the Open Data Button. The Open Data Button will try to find you the data you need. If that doesn’t work, it’ll start a request to the author asking them to share their da…

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Communicating with Students: A Suggestion About Email

Rendered three-dimensional @ symbol, here used to represent email.

Here at ProfHacker, we’ve written several posts about email over the years. I don’t know about you, but it feels like I receive way more email than I know what to do with. And regardless of who is sending them, a significant percentage of the emails that I do receive are, shall we say, constructed in a manner than is less than ideal: vague subject lines, announcements that include all important information in an image attachment, requests for information that take the sender 5 minutes to ask bu…

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Playing Cards in the Classroom for Student Collaboration

In my courses, I often put students into small, temporary groups for collaborative work that takes place in class or over the course of a few days. This work ranges from analysis of an assigned reading to researching a local issue to creating a digital resource to conducting an interview with a faculty or community member. We cover how to ensure effective collaboration and communication in small groups, including assigning and managing tasks (something for which an online tool like Basecamp can…

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Your Favorite Browser Extensions?

Internet Explorer’s got ’em. Firefox’s got ’em. Chrome’s got ’em. Safari’s got ’em. Just about every major browser’s got ’em: extensions.

What’s a browser extension? I’m guessing you already know this: it’s a free add-on tool designed to supplement or customize the built-in functions of your Web browser. You can use extensions to do such things as

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Why You Should Label Your Stuff

I’m a believer in the power of the simple solution: from 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.

If you’re like me, you probably sometimes forget to pack up some of your essential teaching tools when you leave the room after teaching a class. I have gone through I-don’t-know-how-many project…