All posts by Natalie Houston

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Take Notes with a Structured Template

books

As Jason recently reminded us, ProfHackers love to take notes. We’ve covered lots of tools and approaches to recording and searching notes, but few of these posts cover much detail about the content or structure of the notes.

As Lincoln noted in “Take Better Notes by Paraphrasing,” if you paraphrase,

You end up with a record not just of the source but of why it is important to your research. And . . . by paraphrasing while taking notes, you’ve already done some of the work towards producing a…

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Making Time for Deep Work

cat on desk

As Jason noted a year ago in his review of Cal Newport’s book Deep Work: Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World, Newport’s central claim will seem familiar to many academic readers: deep work — extended concentration on challenging problems — is both extremely valuable and difficult to commit to. If you’re used to jockeying among multiple browser tabs and responding to notifications all the time, your brain will crave that extra stimulus when you try to settle down to work more deeply….

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Self Care for the New Semester

oxygen masks

So the new semester has started: your syllabi are done, you’re learning your students’ names, and you’re getting used to your new schedule. You’ve mapped out your goals and your lesson plans for your courses, and you’ve probably set some research goals for the semester too. What’s going to help you achieve all those well-made plans? Taking time to strategically plan for your own self-care.

The familiar reminder during the airline safety talk about putting your own oxygen mask on first before he…

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From the Archives: Closing Out the Fall Semester

sunset

Because of the ways academic calendars are constructed, the dates for the end of fall term classes, exam period, and final grade entry at different colleges can be spread out from late November to late January. Regardless of where you are in that sequence of events, this can be a hectic time of year, particularly if you have travel or holiday plans coming up. So here are a few tips from the ProfHacker archives to help you close out this semester or academic quarter. (You might also want to look…

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Write Collaboratively with Authorea

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Authorea is a new online platform for collaborative academic writing with features that will particularly appeal to scientific and technical users. We’ve written before at ProfHacker about Markdown, LaTeX, Git, version control, and collaboration; Authorea is located at the intersection of those tools and topics.

Upon creating your account, you are asked “How do you normally write documents?” with MSWord, LaTeX, and Markdown as the three choices. (You can change your default user setting, or cha…

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Back Up Your Files Now

fire

Last week, you might have seen the story of a devastating fire in a residential neighborhood in New Orleans, and how Gideon Hodge, who “describes himself as a playwright, novelist, and actor” ran into his burning home “when he realized that his only copies of two completed novels were on a laptop inside.”
Continue reading

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Scheduling 101: Using Calendly for Student Appointments

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Over the years at ProfHacker we have discussed several different tools for scheduling student appointments, including Doodle, Acuity, and ScheduleOnce (as well as some other tools that no longer exist).

When I recently scheduled a meeting with a colleague, I learned about Calendly, which immediately impressed me with its clean, appealing design and simple scheduling process. Like other online scheduling tools, Calendly lets you set times when you will be available for meetings and lets users pi…

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Making Room

empty room

One of my favorite questions for reflection and conversation at this time of year is:

What do you want to make room for this fall?

I like this question because not only does it encourage you to think about what you would like more of in your life, but also about how you can make that happen.

Sometimes making room is literal: clearing a bookshelf for materials for a new project, or decluttering a closet to bring ease to your daily routine.

Sometimes making room needs to happen in your schedule: …

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From the Archives: Preparing for the New Semester

classroom

It’s that time again . . .  here are some tips from the ProfHacker archives.

Designing/Revising Your Syllabi

If you’ve only got a few minutes, check out 11 Fast Syllabus Hacks for useful updates to your course documents.

Konrad’s Citing Syllabi suggests some best practices for citing the work of other instructors whose syllabi you’ve consulted and for ensuring your own syllabus can be shared and remixed if that’s your intent.

Jason’s Creative Approaches to the Syllabus provides links to a numbe…

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Estimating Student Workload for Your Courses

books

As the start of the fall term approaches, many ProfHacker readers are designing or revising course syllabi. Among the challenging decisions that instructors face in creating syllabi is the question of how much reading, writing, and other work to assign each week.

The federal definition of course credit hours assumes a minimum of “two hours of out-of-class student work per week for a semester hour.” According to this metric, a student should assume at least six hours of out-of-class work per wee…