Welcome to (Open Thread Wednesday)

flickr user kbaird / CC licensed

It may seem a bit odd to welcome readers to a blog that’s already got more than 100 posts, or more than 20K page views, but today marks the official launch of ProfHacker, a site dedicated to pedagogy, productivity, technology, and especially the intersection of these, in higher education.  We interpret this mandate pretty broadly, and so you’ll find posts on everything from gearing up for a commute to learning student names to backing up your social network.  Basically, if there’s a fresh way to think about the daily work of university life, you can expect to find it here.  Publishing roughly three times a day (with some supplemental links on Twitter), ProfHacker offers reviews, tutorials, commentary, podcasts, screencasts, and more, in a style that aims to be casual yet informative, friendly and witty without being snarky.

Origin Story

ProfHacker started just after The Humanities and Technology unconference (#thatcamp) at George Mason, in a Twitter conversation between George Williams and me.  Longtime academic bloggers might remember that George kickstarted the teaching carnival several years ago, and so his notion of a website devoted to sharing practical strategies for research, teaching, and service, especially in a technological context, seemed like an obvious fit.  That we’ve been able to get other people to join us, not to mention people to read us, so quickly seems like a minor miracle.

Some Tips for Using ProfHacker

  • ProfHacker is non-disciplinary.  Although each of us teaches and researches in particular disciplines, we’re looking to add faculty from a wide range of fields, such that there will be something for all academics.
  • ProfHacker is rank-independent.  Current contributors range from tenured associate professors to undergraduates, and we’ll draw on that diversity of perspective often.
  • ProfHacker reflects a variety of institutions.  Some contributors are at research-intensive schools, others at teaching-intensive schools, and, again, we aim to capture something useful from that variety.
  • ProfHacker does not offer itself up as an “expert” or “guru” site: Instead, we are all working with, enjoying, or suffering from the very same topics that we write about.  We’re interested in the unspoken or assumed knowledge of the university–all those things that “everyone knows,” but aren’t often stated.
  • ProfHacker is not a site that fetishizes productivity for its own sake.  The point isn’t to do more just to do more, but rather to enable all of us to achieve the kind of work-life balance (or teaching/research balance, or whatever) that one wants. That said, as a group we tend to value experimenting with new approaches to problems over being consumed with stress about them.

ProfHacker in Other Media

ProfHacker also lives on Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, and Zotero.  Pick your social media / cloud computing poison!


George and I would like to thank all of our contributors, particularly Brian, Julie, and Ethan, who were the first to sign on and who made it easier to recruit others, and Marissa Blaszko, who designed our nifty logo and header.  We’d also like to thank everyone’s who’s stopped by this month during our trial run.  (Mostly, this is Boone’s fault.  Which reminds me: Happy Birthday, Boone!)  I’d personally like to thank George, who has deployed an intense amount of WordPress-fu to get this site up and running while also getting his own classes ready.

Later today I’ll link to some of our most interesting posts from this trial period.  We’ll resume our regular posting schedule tomorrow.  In addition to new writers, plus fresh installments by current ones, we’ll have a podcast tomorrow afternoon with a surprise guest, and our first contest–with an actual prize–on Friday!

Consider this an open thread–what would you like to see on ProfHacker?

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