Since joining W&M’s IT department in 2008, I have seen a lot of messed up websites. Some of them are beyond help — old Web applications developed more than a decade ago that need the attention of a dedicated developer. But most errors on William & Mary’s websites are relatively easy to fix even if you don’t have much experience with, patience for, or a desire to learn, HTML. Luckily, finding and fixing these errors doesn’t have to be complicated.
Even though I have used DEVONthink Pro Office for years, I feel like I haven’t really used it beyond its most basic features. Now that I am done with my dissertation (the only thing I used DEVONthink for), I have been starting to explore some of the basic things DEVONthink does that I didn’t previously […]
As high-profile universities and professors set out to “change the world” with MOOCs and deliver courses to thousands of students at a time, they will also develop tools that will help everyone else teach and learn. Software engineers and professors will create new tools to manage large courses, and as they do so, they will change the conventions about what professors need from a learning management system (like Blackboard). While conversations about MOOCs can be about “democratizing education,” they can also be about getting professors better tools.
Since I have been at W&M, we have gone from the relative freedom of the Web left over from the 1990s to the more managed reality of the content management system. Content management systems (CMSs), like WordPress, provide easy ways to build websites and have your students present their work on the Web, but the CMS does have its drawbacks. In order for it to allow for the easy creation of polished-looking sites and let your students focus on writing, the CMS makes many of the other decisions about the website for them. Thinking through what a CMS-based student project often accomplishes may help you better refine your web-based student projects.
As an undergrad at W&M in 2002, I completed my first website for an assignment in an American Studies class. Ten years later, the Web has changed, but I am not so sure if I can say the same for many classroom Web projects. Publishing content on the Web is far easier today than it used to be, thanks to a category of Web applications called Content Management Systems (CMS). A CMS allows people to publish content to the Web without much technical skill. This is great because it allows class projects to focus more on writing and Web publishing. However, I wonder if we have lost something in Web projects as CMSs like WordPress have become more prevalent. I think it is time to reevaluate what a semester-long Web project should look like.
Using DropBox to share drafts of his dissertation chapters helped Evan streamline his writing and revision process. Working on a piece of academic writing that requires multiple readers and commenters can get logistically complicated, especially when working on a multi-chapter dissertation project. DropBox can alleviate some of the frustration when keeping drafts organized, as well as keep your committee members up-to-date on your progress.
Of all the things Massive Online Open Courses (MOOCs) have to offer, their potential to spread digital humanities work beyond a single campus, library, or museum is possibly the most exciting to Evan. In this post, Evan considers three reasons why incorporating digital humanities projects into a MOOC would be an excellent idea.
Thinking about using a Web-based assignment in a class this semester? If so, this post covers the basics of assigning these kinds of projects to students. Evan also lists many resources for writing Web-based assignments using WordPress, as well as tutorials to help you get started.