My latest at ProfHacker: What Are You Reading These Days?

Reading a bookRead, read, read.

It’s what most of us spend a lot of time doing, whether it’s our students’ or colleagues’ work, books that we’re teaching in class, or books for leisure reading.

We don’t necessarily talk much about what we’re reading, though — at least, I don’t — which is unfortunate, I think. I’ve been the lucky recipient of some good reading recommendations in the past when others have shared what they were reading, and those recommendations have often been for books I might not have discovered on my own.

So, for this Open Thread Wednesday, I thought we might start a list of current reading materials from those willing to share.

For class (Politics and Religion), I’m currently reading Stephen V. Monsma and J. Christopher Soper’s The Challenge of Pluralism: Chruch and State in Five Democracies. It’s a good comparative approach to Church-State arrangements in liberal democracies.

For evening leisure reading (I try to read something not work-related for about an hour before bed, as I’ve learned that if I work right up until bedtime, I don’t sleep well), I’m working my way through Susan Cooper’s The Dark is Rising series. I’m just about halfway through the fifth and final book, Silver on the Tree. I think I first read the series in junior high school. It’s not exactly highbrow literature, but it’s entertaining, and it’s been fun to read back through it.

The next leisure book for me is likely to be Tolkien’s The Fall of Arthur. I enjoy Arthurian literature, and I like Tolkien, but I’ve not read this one before.

What about you? Are you reading anything particularly good right now? What are you hoping to read in the near future? Let us know in the comments.

CC-licensed photo by Flickr user Kamil Porembinski

from ProfHacker » Amy CavenderProfHacker – Blogs – The Chronicle of Higher Education

My latest at ProfHacker: Evernote and Markdown: Two Tools that Work Great Together

Evernote and Sublime Text togetherSometimes, I come across ideas for posts quite by accident.

Early this afternoon (November 6), for instance, I was looking at the wiki that we use for scheduling our posts, trying to figure out my posting schedule for the next few weeks. I was also wondering whether I’d be able to post something for the week of November 10. We try to have our posts in by midnight on Thursday of the week before the post runs, and I was, quite frankly, drawing a blank on post ideas.

I’d pretty much concluded I’d have to put posting anything off for a week, and I turned to other concerns. I’ve been frustrated with my writing (or lack thereof) lately, and I’ve been thinking I need to restart a daily writing practice — something along the lines of using, but without relying on that service

Readers may recall that I recently wrote about using Evernote in the classroom. In that post, I noted that I use Evernote for storing all kinds of information, not just for keeping track of my class notes. Since everything in my Evernote account is searchable, it seemed a good place to start keeping that daily writing.

The catch is that I’ve started doing most of my writing in Markdown, for a number of reasons. (I won’t go into them here, but if you’d like some good reasons and a quick introduction to Markdown, check out Lincoln’s post from a few years back.)
So far as I’m aware, Evernote doesn’t handle Markdown natively. Still, I was sure there had to be a way to get them working together, and that more than likely some clever person had already figured something out. So off to Google I went, and I found this: Evernote for Sublime Text. I’ve been using Sublime Text for most of my writing for some months now. A Sublime Text package that integrates with my Evernote account is ideal. I can do my writing in the application and markup language I’ve become most accustomed to using, and can send daily work to my Evernote account with just a few keystrokes, and without having to leave Sublime Text. The note shows up in Evernote formatted in rich text, but I can easily open it (or any other note in my account) again in Sublime Text to continue editing in Markdown. This may turn out to be just the tool I was looking for.

It turned out to be a fine post idea, too.

Do you have a daily writing practice? What about a favorite set of tools for writing and for storing your work? Let us know in the comments.

Lead image created by the author. It’s a composite of her own screenshot and a CC-licensed image by Flickr user othree.

from ProfHacker » Amy CavenderProfHacker – Blogs – The Chronicle of Higher Education

My latest at ProfHacker: Untethering in the Classroom

Projecting to an Apple TV with mirroring
I hate being tethered to the podium computer in my classroom. Seriously. I have a strong preference for being able to move about the room, but I also frequently need to use the projector, which is connected to — you guessed it — the podium in the front of the room. There’s really no simple way around this.

In my ideal world, I’d be teaching in a classroom equipped with a wireless projector. But since I don’t anticipate having access to such a projector anytime soon, I’ve had to look for other solutions.

In the past, I’ve used de Mobo for running presentations from Google Slides, and it’s worked reasonably well. Sometimes, though, I want to do more than just move through a slide deck. What would really be ideal is to be able to project whatever’s on my mobile device.

Google’s Chromecast has that capability, and Ryan mused about its classroom potential in this space last year. The price is certainly right, but it won’t work for me, as I don’t have an HDMI hookup available.

What I’ve settled on for the time being is the Apple TV, which I’m using as described at Edudemic. (I had to add an HDMI to VGA converter, due to that aforementioned lack of an HDMI port.)

It works remarkably well, and it opens the possibility for students to share their screens in class (though I haven’t tried that yet) — at least, those students who have Apple devices. The Chromecast might work better for those who can use it, since it plays well with Windows and Android devices, as well as Apple products.

What other possibilities are there for untethering in the classroom? If you have ideas to share — including thoughts about the benefits of having students be able to share their work on screen — please do so in the comments.

Creative Commons licensed photo by Flickr user Yosomono

from ProfHacker » Amy CavenderProfHacker – Blogs – The Chronicle of Higher Education

My latest at ProfHacker: Using Evernote in the Classroom

Cat reading in Evernote on an iPadLast week, Jason asked readers how they work with their tablets. In the comments section, I noted that one of the ways I use it is for keeping my class notes. I keep those in Evernote.

(Yes, we’ve mentioned that app a few times in this space. I also use Evernote for storing information I might want to retrieve later; I recently reorganized my notebooks and notes after reading about Michael Hyatt’s setup, and I’ve found that approach really helpful).

Once my class notes are in Evernote, it’s very easy for me to access my notes from my iPad, so I don’t need to bring bits of paper with me to class, nor do I need to be tied to the podium computer at the front of the classroom. I’ve even tried using presentation mode (a premium feature, I’m afraid) a couple of times; I haven’t decided yet how well that’s working for me. I need to give it more time.

I’m sure there are other ways I might put it to use. Raul Pacheco-Vega wrote a post back in August about an assignment he uses that involves Evernote. He’s also shared his public notebook of resources and ideas for using Evernote in academia. I’m looking forward to reading through some of the ideas there during my college’s fall break.

What about you? Are there ways you’re using Evernote (or a similar application, such as OneNote) for your teaching, research, or other work? Please share your ideas in the comments!

Creative Commons licensed photo by Flickr user Becky Stern.

from ProfHacker » Amy CavenderProfHacker – Blogs – The Chronicle of Higher Education