Category Archives: Productivity

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Visualize Your Document Changes with Draftback

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Recently, I was introduced to this cool Chrome extension called Draftback. It works with your Google Docs to track the changes you (or your students or collaborators or whoever) have made in the document and allows you to visualize them.

When you click on the Draftback box now located in the top right corner of your Google Doc, you can generate a playback of the changes. I chose a collaboratively-written document that my students wrote last year. As you can see, there were almost 3500 changes m…

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Pedagogy of Imperfection

Imperfectly shaped strawberry
[This post is co-authored with Autumm Caines and Rebecca J. Hogue. Together we are the co-directors of Virtually Connecting.]

They say perfect is the enemy of done, but there may be more value to imperfection in pedagogy than just getting things done. Learning is an imperfect process and the situation is few and far between where we see someone getting it perfect the first time. Many times perfection is a self-defined construct that we ourselves cannot even precisely articulate, though we know …

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Collecting Student Work with Google Forms

File folders organized in a file boxA good number of us here at ProfHacker prefer to avoid paper whenever possible. When I teach my writing course each fall, I have my students use Google Documents so that it’s easy to see an essay’s development over time.

For classes where it’s not essential that I see a student’s revisions, I prefer that essays be submitted in PDF format, so that I can comment on essays using my iPad. (My current favorite app for this purpose is PDFExpert; Jason and Erin have both made use of iAnnotate.)

What I…

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Hoaxy Visualizes the Spread of Online News

Hoax

As I seem to have become the resident “fake news” writer here at ProfHacker, I feel like I would be remiss not to review the new tool Hoaxy, developed by Filippo Menczer, a professor of informatics and computer science at Indiana University at Bloomington (you can read an interview with him here).

According to the FAQ on the website,

Hoaxy visualizes the spread of claims and related fact checking online. A claim may be a fake news article, hoax, rumor, conspiracy theory, satire, or even an acc…

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Build a Habit Streak With Productive

graffiti of habit

Jerry Seinfeld has a well-known piece of productivity advice known as “don’t break the chain.” The idea is simple: you visibly mark on a calendar every day you perform some task–write a good joke, work on squats, write toward an article, learn TEI, whatever–and make sure you do it for several consecutive days. Then, you rely on the power of momentum: just don’t break the chain of days. Keep the streak going, and you will build a habit of prioritizing what’s really important–such as your academi…

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Academic Resolutions for 2017?

With 2017 upon us, and 2016 thankfully in the rear-view mirror, many of us are making resolutions. Many of us at ProfHacker ponder resolution season: a few years ago, Kathleen Fitzpatrick made some good arguments for making new year resolutions at the start of the academic year rather than the calendar year; George invited readers to reflect on their resolution-making; and Amy Cavender suggested using resolutions as a way to learn from past mistakes. I have a love-hate relationship with resolut…

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Working Over “Break”

Since early November, I’ve spoken with many fellow academics who have been mentioned a decline in productivity and focus. This is always an overwhelming time of year, between the end of the semester crunch, deadlines, various holidays and family obligations, and an increase in administrative burdens with the ticking clock of the coming new year looming over everything. However, 2016 has been a particularly difficult year for many of us, and I’m finding the need for an effective break far greate…

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New Wayback Machine – Beta

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While the adage goes that nothing ever disappears from the internet, anyone who created a Geocities site, or used their old university servers (or forgot to pay to renew domain registration) knows that more often than we’re led to believe, stuff goes away and we can’t find it anymore.

The Wayback Machine has been a go-to for those looking for lost content and sites on the internet, but until now the search feature has required you to know the exact URL for the site you are trying to track down….

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Alphabetizing Books Quickly: QuickSort, Insertion Sort, and Bubble Sort

piles of books

Sometimes, the video that would’ve been helpful for you arrives right after you’ve completed a task. Over the past few months, I’ve been gradually relocating my books from my basement at home to my office at work, thus symbolically completing a move that’s now 3+ years old. Once I got them all to work, they were piled on my shelves, and so I needed to quickly sort them.

Shortly after finally getting them all organized, I discovered that Chand John and Anton Trofimov have a video (via Open Cul…

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What’s your favorite note-taking app?

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Many of us these days use a tablet for taking notes — and for a lot of us, that tablet is an iPad. We’ve explored some note-taking apps for the iPad before:

I’ve also tried two other applications over the last fe…