Last week, LIS liaison librarians Brenda, Stacy and Carrie attended a 2-day writing and teaching retreat for faculty, organized by the CTLR and held at the Mountain Top Inn in Chittenden. Along with Shawna Shapiro from the Writing Program and Adela Langrock from the Office of Planning and Assessment, we led a session called “Undergraduates as Researchers,” in which we reviewed the results of our 2012 assessment of student research and technology skills and discussed best practices for helping students develop strong research skills.
We also attended workshops on syllabus design, developing and grading writing assignments, peer feedback, and foreign language pedagogy. We each were able to spend a few hours sharing assignment ideas and suggestions in small-group syllabus workshops, and we had plenty of time to talk with faculty and colleagues individually too.
Here are just a few take-aways from the event:
Some faculty expressed interest in community-based, collaborative research projects. It will be interesting to look for models (a few come to mind already!) and elaborate on technology options for these faculty.
If piloting a new initiative, program, or pedagogical technique seems daunting, try starting with a “lite” version. If that’s successful, you can scale up the next time around.
When assigning small group work during class time, ask each group to report out at the end. This could be an effective way for students to share their research success stories and challenges.
Writing is communication. When you write, take the time to imagine, understand, and speak to your target audience; ask students to do the same.
Peer feedback on writing is most useful when it asks questions about sections of a text, or raises big issues such as clarity and purpose. Line-by-line editing (in effect, telling the writer, “this is exactly how I would say it”) is less effective because the writer implements the directed changes without needing to re-envision the paper from the reader’s viewpoint.
Be intentional and design backwards. Think of what you want students to be able to do and then provide the steps or “scaffolding” to develop the skill by sequencing assignments and instruction to achieve the goal. This applies to research as well as writing skills.
New Animated PNG Creation Tools Intend To Bring APNG Into Mainstream Use: While grainy GIF images can have entertaining uses, they aren’t the ideal animated image format due to lack of full color support and an alpha channel [for varied transparency]. Animated PNG doesn’t have these faults and has been available and incorporated in quite a few browsers since roughly 2004.
Touch Laptop Forecasts: Only 10-15% of laptops sold this year will be touch-enabled. Sales of touch-enabled Dell and HP laptops are declining, but Lenovo’s touch laptops will be 50% of their sales in the next 2-3 years.
What to Expect in WordPress 3.7 and 3.8: The 3.7 update will come in October and feature better internationalization support while 3.8 is planned for the end of the year and will include an overhaul of the admin interface and a new Twenty Fourteen theme. If you have thoughts on improving the dashboard take their survey.
The New IE11 Developer Tools: Microsoft has improved the script debugger, added a memory analysis tool, and cleaned up the display of inherited styles in the DOM explorer.
From Cave Paintings to the Internet: Chronological and Thematic Studies on the History of Information and Media
This interesting website from Jeremy Norman “is designed to help you follow the development of information and media, and attitudes about them, from the beginning of records to the present. Containing annotated references to discoveries, developments of a social, scientific, theoretical or technological nature, as well as references to physical books, documents, artifacts, art works, and to websites and other digital media, it arranges, both chronologically and thematically, selected historical examples and recent developments of the methods used to record, distribute, exchange, organize, store, and search information.” (from About the Database). Images and text (with links to wikipedia) are combined with geographical information to allow mapping of the information.
Predatory Publishers Strike Back
Predatory publishing is what happens when open access publishing is subverted by manipulation, exploitation, and spammer mentality. Jeffery Beall is a librarian who uses his blog to expose predatory publishers, and they would rather he didn’t. Beall has written a Nature column piece about predatory publishing, and his blog is Scholarly Open Access.
From Library Journal / The Digital Shift:
“Multidisciplinary Open Access journal publisher PeerJ announced the publication of its first 30 peer-reviewed articles today. Co-founders Jason Hoyt, formerly chief scientist and VP for research and development for Mendeley, and Peter Binfield, formerly publisher of the Public Library Of Science (PLOS), launched PeerJ in June 2012. They quickly garnered support for the project, ultimately assembling an Editorial Board of 800 academics and an advisory board of 20—five of whom are Nobel Laureates…” Full article.
Worldometers: Real Time World Indicators
Watch the numbers change. Everything from current world population, CO2 emissions, to blog posts written today (hope they caught this one). Strange, but no mention of the number of McDonald’s burgers sold?
Marginalia, or The Roger Williams Code: How a team of scholars decrypted a secret language—and discovered the last known work of the American theologian. (via Slate)
Ithaka, the non-profit organization that brings us JSTOR, on Supporting the Changing Research Practices of Historians: This study, funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities, uncovers the needs of today’s historians and provides guidance for how research support providers can better serve them.