I fell off the NET again—and enjoyed every minute.

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Reading with the Newf

After last semester I pretty much dropped off the Net for a couple of months (due to an unreliable home networking situation) and spent time reading printed books, hard copies of magazine subscriptions and paper newspapers. I highly recommend it. I am convinced that online reading is a different experience. I look forward to reading Naomi Baron’s latest thoughts on this.

Here are books I found well worth my having read:

  1. Michel Faber’s The Book of Strange New Thingspraised by several of my favorite contemporary authors David Mitchell, Philip Pullman, and Yann Martel.
  2. John Scalzi’s Lock In: A Novel of the Near Future.
  3. David Mitchell’s The Bone Clocks.
  4. Cory Doctorow’s Information Doesn’t Want to Be Free: Laws for the Internet Age.
  5. Gabriella Coleman’s Hacker, Hoaxer, Whistleblower, Spy: The Many Faces of Anonymous
  6. Andy Weir’s The Martian

I presently am finishing Meg Wolitzer’s The Interestings and am looking forward to reading Ann Morgan‘s The World Between Two Covers: Reading the Globe when it becomes available in the US in May 2015. Before then I plan to read Emily St. John Mandel’s Station Eleven.

Tomorrow, after my classes, I’ll invite my students into my office to take any books I have read. It always pleases me to see them walk off excitedly with some pleasure reading.

What books do you recommend that I read? That I encourage my students to read?

Tool Winnowing 201:Treating APP Affluenza

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*Tools1

Too much stuff. An embarrassment of riches: Books; office supplies; projects; computers; planners for organizing my life:). Too much either wasted or neglected: space; knowledge unshared; time; opportunities; networking.

Inspired in part by the first chapter of Gretchen Rubin’s well written and thought provoking The Happiness Project and in part by my panicking that it is almost time to return to campus to teach, I’m focusing today on (again!) winnowing applications. I doubt that I can change my app-collecting habits (but, reflecting on Patrick Lindsay’s little book of self-help inspirational nudges It’s Never Too Late…172 simple acts to change your life,)—maybe I CAN change. It’s time to reconsider the ideas of “Essentialism“—with a grain of salt. I enjoy too much having many interests, many simultaneous projects, and continuous learning opportunities.

But do I REALLY need so many tools overlapping (or duplicative) in function that as a consequence of their sheer number or my changing interests I never master, I fail to update, or I forget that I possess?:)

Especially with the new Mac Operating system imminent, it’s time for some app-revisiting.

Time to focus.

Today I focus on screencasting/ screen capturing/ video producing apps among them

  • Screenflow
  • Screensteps
  • Skitch
  • Snagit
  • Snapzpro
  • Voila
  • Cantasia
  • Jing
  • Imovie
  • Clarify
  • Pulpmotion3



Still Looking for Ways to Improve Courses After 36 Years of Teaching (Pt.1 of 2)

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Proof of Self-Publishable Book I've talked about in progress for the past 30 years!

Proof-reading ready copy of self-published book I’ve talked about being in progress for the past 30 years!

I’m sitting on the porch attempting to complete the bulk of my Fall semester Carroll University course preparation before intentionally disconnecting from the Internet and enjoying five days of pure vacation in northern Michigan a week from tomorrow. This year I shall be teaching two sections of Psychology 205 (Statistics and Experimental Design) and one section of Psychology 303 (Experimental Social Psychology).

Tonight I am focusing on the Statistics and Experimental Design course—-a course that is particularly meaningful to me. For the past 20 years I have used a traditional textbook enhanced by my handouts. Students also have weekly labs to gain hands-on experience using SPSS (The Statistical Package for the Social Sciences). I’ve been very pleased by evidence that students learn, and I have received consistent positive evaluations across the years about the course both at the course’s completion and from graduates. But, there is always room for improvement—especially improvement attempts informed by thoughtful reflection from former students. So help me out. Are the two ideas below worth pursuing?

Across the years I have repeated heard from students how much they valued handouts I have distributed. These have essentially been a succinct outline of my notes (though I must confess that I haven’t used notes in 15 years!). The handouts are replete with a congery of Carroll-specific data and data collection exercises.

I have been troubled by the high cost to students of textbooks and bothered by what I see as unnecessary inclusions in textbooks (e.g. color, study guides, constant revisions, and electronic ancillaries of dubious didactic value) which drive up costs. Therefore,  I’ve been recently exploring a number of self-publishing mechanisms (especially Lulu.com and ibooks author). One of the best resources about self-publishing I have come across is Rick Smith’s  (self-published!)  CreateSpace and Kindle Self-Publishing Masterclass (2014 edition). I found it very useful and useable.

I’ve recently carefully examined Amazon’s CreateSpace.com. I have been very impressed by its ease of use, pricing structure, and quality of physical book production. I am holding in my hand tonight a hard-copy proof of a very physically attractive book —my book—with a glossy cover which I created using Create Space’s Cover Creator software. If I proceed, the book can be printed on demand and/or, if I choose, it can be converted relatively effortlessly to Kindle format (This i have not yet tried). I can pretty much decide the cost to readers (I’ve toyed with the idea of it being free).

  1. Idea 1: I am tempted to give students the opportunity to buy a copy and to help me improve the book by their adding their own data collection examples. Alternatively, I hold off distribution until 2nd semester when I before which time I add information to the book (perhaps with some student/former student collaborators).
  2. Idea 2: I am also considering building into the course this semester formal instruction in using Survey Monkey software now that I have a Carroll account in addition to my Schneider Consulting account. I envision in my last few years’ teaching creating a Carroll Student Statistical Consulting service and this would be one of the tools the use.

 

 

Preparing for Bloomsday: Reasons for Reading James Joyce

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Abloom with Ideas of What to Read

Abloom with Ideas of What to Read

I recently purchased a five-year journal and I’m using it, as a planning tool for things I want to accomplish in the next five years. Inspired by my sister-in-law who a year ago told me that she might attempt to read my late father-in-law’s copy of James Joyce’s Ulysses, I’ve begun identifying “great books” which I’d like to have read in the next few years. Ulysses is on my short-list at the moment, though I vacillate on whether I should invest the time in READING it. If so, I want to finish reading it by next Bloomsday.

I just finished reading Kevin Birmingham’s excellent The Most Dangerous Book: The Battle for James Joyce’s Ulysses and gained a fuller understanding of the importance of the book. I learned a lot from listening to James A. W. Heffernan’s  Great Courses lectures on Ulysses.  I have explored the James Joyce resources on Openculture.com including a recording of his reading from the book. I’ve read The Odyssey (but almost 50 years ago—perhaps I should read the critically acclaimed Fagles translation). My interest has been piqued by the virtual reality project to create an educational video game of Ulysses, and I have discovered Frank Delaney’s audio podcasts reading of the work.  I passed by the twitter edition! Perhaps I’ll attend Milwaukee’s Irishfest. I’ll definitely add in my five-year journal Ireland as one of the countries I wish to visit.

The question, now, is should I commit myself to reading Ulysses—or instead curl up with Robin the Newf and study my dog-eared copy of  Berke Breathed‘s Classics of Western Literature: Bloom County 1986-1989.