More on Digital Tools 1


Or, In Which I Use My Blog as a Bookmarking Tool

Mindmapping

Recently, I asked the Twitterverse about collaborative online mind mapping tools. I have used Cmap Tools for a while and I love it, but it’s local and what I really wanted was something that could take advantage of my students with all their individual laptops and the podium computer that can project. So, multiple, simultaneous-editing, collaborative, online tools I sought. And thanks to @roygrubb, I now have quite a list:

Now, of course, I have the problem of having more tools that I can possibly evaluate in a day. Or at least in a day when I have a bunch of other things to do as well!

Tools for working with texts

While I’m here, I’ll aggregate the answers I got last time I asked about Digital Tools, which include:

Teaching with WordPress #wpclassroom

Also, I haven’t really mentioned in this space that I’m working on a WordPress Multisite (sometimes also called WordPressMU, WordPress MultiUser, WordPress Network) for my teaching this semester. I’ve installed the Digress.it plugin which, if all goes well, has the amazing capability of allowing multiple simultaneous commenting per paragraph on posts. I look forward to the medieval gloss enthusiasts taking over the world with WordPress + Digress.it. As it is, I’m hoping that it will revolutionize what I can do in a writing workshop, and really help students collaborate with each other in a workshop setting. We’ll see. When the site is a little less beta (classes start next week) I’ll link to it. Turns out that I’m the first person at this university to deploy WordPress Multisite on a production server. The Academic Technology people are a little nervous, but have been incredibly helpful. I think we’re going to be fine.

As for the hashtag, after a conversation with @feministteacher, we ascertained that we hadn’t seen a consistent hashtag about teaching with WordPress, so we have coined #wpclassroom and are hoping it will catch on.

Citation

I don’t know of any scholar or teacher of a humanities discipline (which something in my brain says should be “teacher of humanity” but I know that’s not right!) who hasn’t struggled with citations. For my own scholarly journal, when I left the “type the bibliography by hand” stage, I moved to Word + EndNote, which seems a pretty common progression. I might still be there if not for some catastrophic failure that caused my entire machine to sieze up and choke every time I used a diacritical mark. And you may remember that my dissertation was in contemporary Puerto Rican literature in English, so, er, there were some diacriticals. See for yourself! This is the bibliography.) I migrated altogether to Mellel + Bookends, a migration usefully facilitated by the deal they give when you buy both together. But my students are mostly running Windows machines, so trying to require MacOS software would be… folly. The Reference Librarians where I teach shill RefWorks, which I dislike for a number of reasons including that it’s clunky. However, it is well supported by the library. I looked again at Zotero as well as at Mendeley as they are both free (or rather Mendeley is free for as much as my students would need). They are both tempting, but neither is as well integrated with the databases my first-year writers are likely to use as I would like to see. I tried importing articles from GaleGroups’s Expanded Academic ASAP database and got citations with titles like “Download HTML” and “Expanded Academic ASAP.” So, RefWorks it probably shall be.

If RefWorks and LibraryThing were to merge somehow, they might be able to rule my world. In fact, if any of the library cataloging software, like Delicious Library, were to merge with any of the citation software, I’d be sold in an instant. Fact remains that right now in the humanities, we still occasionally read books for research. Delicious Library and LibraryThing can extract information about books by scanning bar codes. But neither outputs usable citation information. That’s my digital citations wishlist: a full-library cataloger that handles books, mixed media, electronic and print journals, AND outputs nice citation information and plays with word processors nicely. While I’m at it, it should make me coffee as well.

Share and share alike

Gearing up for the semester has been more technologically intense for me this year than ever before. As always, I look forward to your comments on what teaching tech works for you. And what doesn’t.