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Weekend Reading: Evaluating Digital Projects Edition

The Puppy Stares at a ButterflyAt the risk of being a wee bit meta- this week, I wanted to call attention to George’s request for letters about ProfHacker’s usefulness. While there is increasing support for digital projects when it comes to employability, promotion, and tenure, it is still often difficult for people to understand and properly rate the value of projects that vary widely from the norm. George is thinking about strategies for presenting a site like this one to colleagues who may not be familiar with it, and those strategies might ultimately be useful to the wider community. So, help him out!

On to this week’s links!

  • Therese Huston offers up the first in a series of “Tips for Teaching What You Don’t Know”: First, find five syllabi you like. The Internet makes quick work of such research, and it’s the best 60 minutes you’ll spend in the planning stages. Comparing syllabi from five different professors (presumably professors who do have expertise in the topic) tells you what the fundamental readings and concepts should be, how those concepts are typically sequenced, and where you might turn for additional information. You should look for syllabi that are from institutions similar to your own.
  • Robert Watts decides to put on suits: More than anything, I have felt a kind of relief in my new uniform. The paradox is that wearing a suit allows me to not think about how I look.
  • ProfHacker maintains a quasi-fascist strict commenting policy, which is sometimes a source of some discontent. With that in mind, Anil Dash’s post about owning your site’s comments is important: How many times have you seen a website say “We’re not responsible for the content of our comments.”? I know that when you webmasters put that up on your sites, you’re trying to address your legal obligation. Well, let me tell you about your moral obligation: Hell yes, you are responsible. You absolutely are. When people are saying ruinously cruel things about each other, and you’re the person who made it possible, it’s 100% your fault.
  • Dr. Zen offers 6 things to think about for presenters and audiences before using QR codes in posters (Related: Katy Meyers on “Using Twitter and QR Codes at Conferences”): Why do I care what’s on the other side? What is the carrot for someone to take the picture with their smartphone and download? Most of the carrots I’ve seen offered by QR codes are on par with those “3 secrets of a flat stomach” ads that litter websites. 
  • Prone to Laughter notes the differences between job letters for faculty and administration jobs: tailoring for academic administration jobs requires a lot more tweaking and even writing from scratch. I’ve only sent about six or seven applications, but even jobs that all fall into the same broad category—say, advising—don’t really allow me to re-use base elements.

This week’s video comes courtesy of the blog at Adafruit, which is for my money the best source of DIY/hackable gear and electronics on the web. In it, Maria Andersen (@busynessgirl) asks, “Where’s the ‘Learn This’ Button?”:

Have a great weekend!

Flickr photo by Aimee Pozorski / Used by permission.

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