All posts by Heather M. Whitney


WordPress Plugin Now Available for JotForm

“>Custom form elements
Looking for a plugin to add form features to your WordPress installation? We’ve written previously about JotForm (here and here), a service which allows you to create forms and link to some collection service, such as Dropbox. Getting those forms on a website was not terribly difficult but took a few extra steps.

But now JotForm has recently announced the availability of a WordPress plugin that streamlines the process. Once you install the plugin (which you can do by downloading it from here


Stocking Up for Lunch in Your Office

095/365 CAs unideal as eating lunch at your keyboard is, it happens. Course and meeting schedules can be unforgiving. Before the semester starts, it can be a good idea to stock your office with food that makes in-office lunch take less thought.

This semester, I’ll be lucky to have fifteen minutes for lunch most days, so I have been investigating what to get. With the help of the always spot-on Alissa Wilkinson (whose work you should check out, including her new project The Glass List) I have compiled som…


Labguru for Life Science Lab Management (and more)

DNA lab
French scientist Louis Pasteur said “chance favors the prepared mind.” In the game of scientific research, organization can be key to creating favorable conditions for the great moments every scientist hopes for. And yet, how many of us in the sciences actually thought of the labs they trained in as a model of organization? How many of us, especially faculty members at small schools who are principal investigator (PI) and lab manager all in one, could improve lab management? And how do we mode…


Digital lab notebooks: what works and what doesn’t?

Notebook collection
This year in the advanced physics course I teach, I wanted to broaden student exposure to lab notebook keeping methods. Students could keep lab notebooks on traditional carbon copy paper, or they could try out a different method, such as Evernote, as long as we kept in discussion about how it was working and how it wasn’t.

The result? Just one student out of twenty one consistently kept lab notes in Evernote. It seemed to work reasonably well, although I felt that the notes lacked the spontanei…


Schedule E-mail on the Go with Boomerang

let's all sit under the big boomerang
Back in 2010, Amy reported on using Boomerang to schedule email within Gmail or Outlook for a later send date. I personally use this email add-on daily, finding it useful to queue up emails to arrive to their recipient at a reasonable time. For example, I often process email on Sunday evenings (a time that works well for me), but in case my colleagues check their email that same evening I don’t want them to feel that I’m pressuring them to respond immediately. So I use Boomerang to send the ema…


Outside-of-the-box Office Hours

Meet Here

Thanks to technology, office hours are no longer limited to drop-in or door sign-up options. As we’ve written about before, digital office hours are now an option, as is by-appointment-only. (You can review here what we’ve covered on that topic before.) Additionally, some of my colleagues are having success with group office hour sessions, in which the professor is available in a large classroom and students are welcome to drop by and work in groups or speak with the professor individually. It …


Updates to ScheduleOnce for Google Calendar Appointments

LateAfter everyone finished gasping at the news that Google was canceling Calendar Appointments, which we reported about last winter here at ProfHacker, many faculty pursued other online solutions for allowing students and colleagues to view available appointment times and make reservations. (And a brief note before the comments start coming in – Google has indeed since stated that they will keep Google Calendar Appointments for Google Apps for Education, Business, and Government users, but many Pro…


Updates to Quartzy: Connect inventory to protocols, and more

logoLast year, I reported on the website Quartzy, which can be used for inventory management. The site is nominally marketed towards use in the life sciences, but we have found it to be very useful in our physics department. Since last September, there have been a number of updates to the website, which might be useful to ProfHacker readers.

First, a major wish-list item of mine has been added to the site: you can now directly link protocols to inventory items. The key here is to think of protocols …


LaTeX in the Cloud

8155665827_61cdd0c562_mLaTeX is a powerful text markup language that allows for document preparation. For some academic fields and subfields, it is the accepted means by which to prepare documents for publication. Like most computing languages, it takes a little time to learn — Bryn Lutes wrote about getting started with LaTeX for us in 2010 — but the effort pays off in beautifully constructed documents.

In the past the learning curve for LaTeX has involved not only the LaTeX language itself but also the platforms tha…


Using Todoist for Task Management

There are a lot of options available for online task management. Here at ProfHacker, we have reviewed several, including Remember the Milk, Things, and GQueues. All have their pros and cons, and are worth taking a look at.

Todoist is another option. If it doesn’t sound completely new, it is because it is not. Todoist was originally started in January 2007, but in the summer of 2012 it underwent a relaunch after being rebuilt in HTML5. The result is a very well-built task system that doesn’t suff…