Blogger’s Choice: iOS7

by Valerie Heruska

So, you’ve got the new Apple iOS7 and if you’re like me you’re probably like: did Apple have an 8th grader work on the colors?

I think iOS7 is nifty, despite the way the graphics look on my phone. I think the people at Apple were looking to get away from the simpleness of the way the apps functioned and looked to this new brightness and more diversified way to use your apps and the phone. A friend passed along this article to me: The Best Hidden Features of iOS7 and I have to admit, it was pretty darn cool to figure out this new operating system.

First, I would suggest turning down the brightness of the phone so your eyes don’t bleed. Also, this helps maintain some good battery life if you’re rocking the iPhone 4/4s/5. I haven’t had the opportunity to tinker with the new iPhone 5S and 5C (c as in cheap – it’s all plastic) and so I don’t know about the battery life. If anyone out there has a new iPhone 5s/5c, can you please share your thoughts here. I’ve had this operating system for a few days and I have to say it will drain your battery, so be sure to keep a charger with you.

For me, two of the best new features: Male Siri voice and the fact that all my apps update automatically.  I remember the last time I upgraded that everything took forever and a day to update, but now, it just does it automatically. Facebook, Nike Running, Twitter, Newsstand, are just a few that have some pretty rad updates to go along with iOS7. Oh and make Siri voice sounds a lot less harsh than female Siri voice.

All in all, iOS7 is something that you should not be afraid of, rather you should embrace the change that Apple has bestowed upon us Apple nerds. If you have any fun tips or want to share any of your favorite features, share them here!

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Blogger’s Choice: iOS7

Highlight an App: GoodNotes

by Niki Messmore

There are plenty of things that I do not believe in – shoes (prisons for your feet!), Miley Cyrus’ ability to twerk, and wasting printer paper. Fortunately, I have a solution for the latter – my beloved iPad.

Allowing me to download articles for easy perusal, my iPad has been a savior throughout my time as a grad student. However, some of the platforms for reading PDFs can limiting. Thanks to my friend Anna, I’ve discovered my new favorite app for PDFs: GoodNotes.

GoodNotes app allows the user to download PDFs, make handwritten notes, and highlight key information. I love the ability to write in the margins (using different pen sizes and colors) and highlight when I’m researching – all without needing to kill trees (and print credits!) by printing off articles. Not to mention, it is fun to doodle all over the page (especially when I get frustrated by long articles) only to click the ‘reset’ button and have it revert to its shiny new state.

Worried that your handwritten notes will look rubbish? Goodnotes’ pen function flows easily across the screen. Even if that does not work, there is also an ‘insert text box’ option.

There’s even an ‘insert image’ function! Imagine: You have 200 pages of articles to read. You are weary. But! There is hope in the form of fun graphics. You can insert images of student affairs grumpy cat or the cast members of SuperWhoLock to the end of different pages in order to reward yourself for a job well done!

Additionally, the navigation tools are easy to use, allowing you to bookmark and flip through the pages easily.

The only downside? The initial download is free but only allows one PDF. In order to process more, the user is required to purchase the app for $5.99….which, for a grad student, is a little painful to spend.

Eh. I’m the kind of person who attends all the campus events with free food in order to reduce my spending, but surprisingly I love this app enough to make the commitment. It simplifies my crazy #sagrad life and for that I am grateful.

Do you enjoy using GoodNotes? Got any tips on other similar apps? Let me know your thoughts in the comments or via Twitter at @NikiMessmore.

Highlight an App: GoodNotes

Making the Move to a Standing Desk

By Brenda Bethman

As I discussed in a recent SAWTT post, I recently embarked on a quest to get more fit. As part of that quest, I’ve been using my FitBit more regularly — and noticed that the daily “Time Active” pie charts often show the percentage of time spent as “sedentary” (vs. active) as 60% or more. In other words, I spend about 60% of my non-sleeping time sitting on my rear (whether at the office, in meetings, or on the sofa at home) — and this is despite my new regimen of going to the gym or walking outside 7-8 times per week. Given all the studies demonstrating that that much sitting is unhealthy, I decided that it was finally time to set up that standing desk I’d been considering for a while.

So, I ordered a pop-up standing desk from Amazon, dusted off the office laptop that wasn’t being used very often, and set up one part of my L-shaped desk as a standing desk:

My new standing desk setup
My new standing desk setup

On the other part of the “L,” I have my old sitting set up with desktop:

The sitting part of my desk
The sitting part of my desk

It’s only been a few days so far, but I’ve learned the following:

  • A laptop will only work with a stand (for now, it’s on a cardboard box, but I plan on upgrading)
  • If you use a laptop, you definitely need a second keyboard — getting the laptop high enough to see the screen without back pain makes reaching the keyboard unpleasant
  • Start slow — right now, I’m standing for 1-2 hours per day and hope to slowly increase it
  • Comfortable shoes are a must (some folks I know who use standing desks prefer to stand without shoes. I haven’t tried that yet).
  • Music is essential when standing as otherwise the new position feels tedious
  • Don’t forget to take breaks — standing in one position can also be bad for posture, back, etc. I made sure to install BreakTime on both computers and use the app to remind myself to move around periodically.

So far, I am happy with the setup and liking the experiment — and will report back again after I’ve had more time to try it out. What about you? Do you use a standing desk? If yes, what has your experience been like?

 

Making the Move to a Standing Desk

Follow Friday – the “Silent” Tweeters

by Valerie Heruska

There was an interesting conversation via the Twittersphere the other day. @StacyLOliver started by asking the question:

 

Of course I responded by saying that some of the best voices aren’t even on Twitter because they’re too busy doing stuff. I agree with Stacy, being that there are times I constantly see the same people’s “voices” on my feed and wonder if they even work during day, but that’s another blogpost. I digress.

But there are people on Twitter who I think carry more validity than those who are the loudest or who have the most followers/fans. Here are just a few:

@DeanWenner : Dean Annamaria Wenner from Wentworth Institute of Technology is a fabulous example of how a dean connects with her students. I find her tweets to be fun and very student focused. I think if anyone is thinking  – but she’s a dean and she is so far up the admin chain, how does she have time for students? – be sure to follow her because she always makes time for her students. Her thoughts of the day are fantastic too!

@JasminePClay  I love to follow Jasmine because she is always tweeting out motivational and inspiring things. If I’m ever having a bad day, I know I can count of Jasmine to make my day better with a little word love. Some examples of her tweets: “It isn’t motivation that creates success, but habit and action.” or  “Compassion can encourage efforts toward global justice and social change.” Thank you Jasmine for making my day a little brighter!

@ShineyJames Similar to Jasmine, Shiney is just a fantastic person who makes my life a little better. Shiney works at BU with me and she is one of the most fantastic women who work here. She;s our director of orientation and does a fantastic job of welcoming the new Terriers.  Some of her tweets that make my day ” Challenging the folks who settle to discover the errors in their ways is something I am always willing to do.” and “If we live only for our individual goals or only for the community, we live a short life. Finding the balance between the two gives us joy.” Thank you Shiney!

 

Follow Friday – the “Silent” Tweeters

Making a Site Map for Your Website

by Kristen Abell

One of the things I do in my current role as a web coordinator at our university is information architecture. In layperson’s terms, this means I organize content for websites in a way that makes the website user-friendly. This also means I create site maps for the sites on which I’m working. Many of these sites have probably never had a site map created for them before. Others have had site maps at one time, but have stepped so far off the map, they don’t even look like the same site. It’s my job to whip them back into some semblance of an organized site before we go about designing them a new look and building the site out for them.

Why would you even want to create a site map in the first place? Well, what you may not realize as an administrator of a website (or even just a member of a department with a website) is that site content really fuels the user experience. Sure, look and branding is important, but even that is driven by the content. And if your content sucks or is poorly organized, no one is going to want to return to your site. Think about those sites you’ve visited that take forever for you to find the one thing for which you’re looking, or within which you get so lost you can’t find your way out. Those sites probably didn’t have good site maps.

The key to building a good site map is primarily being able to put your content into buckets. Try to organize your content into as few buckets as possible, while still making sure that the buckets make sense and aren’t too vague. Yes, there’s a bit of an art to it, but with practice it is one you can master. Think about how your navigation is going to look and feel – will a user have to scan through tons of navigation items to find the one thing they want? Or are the buckets so very broad that their particular topic could be in any one of several different navigation items? And remember, not every single thing about your department must be on your website – a website should work with the face-to-face and print aspects of your office to provide an overall message to your students or customers.

After you start organizing your content, it can be helpful to see a visual map. Site Map

There are plenty of tools online that will help you create a visual site map, but one of the easiest tools I’ve found to use is actually Power Point (yes, there is actually a use for Power Point in today’s world!). Check out the “hierarchy” tab under “smart art,” and you can easily create a site map complete with pages and connections. In the site map above, there are actually two external pages/sites that will be linked to from the main page, and then there are seven main pages off the home page. Depending on how large your site is, you may be able to organize the site with just one site map, or you may need to use multiple maps to fully encompass the site.

Even if you are not currently undergoing a website revision, I can’t recommend creating a site map for your website enough – both for you and for colleagues in your department now or in the future. This can also help your site from growing into a monster site at some point (you know the ones – someone figured out how to add web pages, and they never looked back). By sticking to the core buckets, your department can continue to build onto your site in a way that is user-friendly and maintains the vision of your department.

Does your department currently have a site map? Do you have other tools you recommend for building a visual display?

Making a Site Map for Your Website

Best Practices: The Myth of Being Busy

By Kathryn Magura

It’s September, and I work at a quarter school. Over the next month I will be training staff and getting 4600+ students moved onto campus. I will certainly be busy, and justifiably so. This is the busiest month of the year for me, and I expected as much when I got into this work.

That said, I think there’s a degree to which we find a certain satisfaction in being busy. Busyness equates to self-worth and job security in a way that is often more smug than accurate. As I watched most of my colleagues around the country go through their busy season in August (yay semester schools always being ahead of the curve), I took mental notes of things I’d like to try on my own campus, or lessons I could learn from others. I never questioned the fact that when someone mentioned they were busy that it was true, because I know what they were going through.

Busy starting (or ending) an academic year is one thing, but at what point are we always busy? I see a lot of posts on Facebook from friends who seem to always be working, and always be looking to be told how great they were for always working. What’s the point? When do you stop working and start living?

A couple of friends posted this article on Facebook over the weekend that articulates very well how we seem to equate how busy we are with our importance – like some sick status indicator. I work 14 hours a day, which means I’m more important than you! Ridiculous. So how do we keep from perpetuating this busy culture?

  1. Don’t take on more than you can reasonably accomplish. Seems like a no-brainer, but it seems that we’ve created a culture where people feel they have to always take on more tasks or they will replace you with someone who will. Are we really that insecure? I really don’t think our supervisors are that cunning. In my experience, a good supervisor may not know how busy you are unless you tell them. If they try to give you a project, and you have another deadline looming, tell them you can’t take that on and why you can’t.
  2. Schedule your time better. Some of the people who I’ve heard complain the most about being busy seem to have plenty of time to do things like play on social media all day. It’s these same people who get “surprised” by a deadline because they didn’t manage the time they had wisely. Try scheduling time on your work calendar to work on a project to see if this helps you with time management. Also, if you can’t balance the time you spend on social media vs. the time you are working, then I suggest you stay off social media.
  3. Ask for help. This one seems to be the hardest thing for most people to do. For some reason, we seem to have an insane amount of ego wrapped up in being the “go-to” person at work, which results in long hours and eventual burnout. No one expects you to work 15 hours a day in order to get everything accomplished! Who knows, maybe asking for help will result in the addition of staff to assist getting the work done.

 

These are some of my ideas on how to keep from perpetuating the busyness myth. What are yours?

Best Practices: The Myth of Being Busy

Highlight a Woman: Roopika Risam

By Brenda Bethman

For this round of “highlight a woman,” we went outside the field of student affairs to focus on digital humanities. Roopika Risam, the subject of this post, recently completed her Ph.D in English at Emory University and just started a position as an assistant professor at Salem State University. Despite the hectic schedule that entails, she was kind enough to answer my questions and I am very pleased to introduce her to SAWTT readers.

Can you describe your background? Degrees, current and previous positions.

B.A. in English and South Asian Studies from University of Pennsylvania, M.A. in English from Georgetown University, Ph.D. in English from Emory University. Currently Assistant Professor of World Literature and English Education at Salem State University.

Taught high school for four years before graduate school, worked with pedagogy and tech throughout grad school at the Center for New Designs in Learning and Technology at Georgetown and the Center for Faculty Development and Excellence.

What inspired you to work with technology in addition to a “traditional” field? Was it your original plan when attending college?

From an early age, I definitely gravitated towards technology, enjoyed tinkering with it, in college taught myself HTML, Flash, later CSS. But it wasn’t until I worked at the Center for New Designs in Learning and Technology (CNDLS) at Georgetown that technology became more than a hobby. There, I was introduced to what I now recognize as “digital pedagogy” and “digital humanities” – though we weren’t calling it that at the time. I had the opportunity to participate in prototype development for a range of projects including digital storytelling, course wiki notebooks, and the MyDante teaching tool for the Divine Comedy. At the time, I didn’t realize that I was working under a group of leaders and visionaries in educational technology but it led me to think critically about how to integrate technology in the classroom – and why – and to consider how what had previously been a hobby might fit into my scholarship. My scholarship has been largely guided by a political commitment to questions of solidarity across dividing lines of race, national, class, gender, and so forth, and its relationship to imperialism. It ultimately occurred to me that technology has any number of (fluid) roles in relation to solidarities and imperialisms – whether we’re talking about the role of Twitter in the “Arab Spring” demonstrations, outsourced technologies, Indians brought to Silicon Valley on temporary H1-b visas for their labor, or black and brown women around the world whose labor produces the components that comprise technologies. These concerns at the intersections of postcolonial studies and technology that led me to co-found Postcolonial Digital Humanities (#dhpoco) with Adeline Koh.

What role do you feel women play in technology within higher education?

Increasingly, we’re seeing greater participation from women, but more significantly, we’re seeing concrete results from that participation: greater attention to the relationship between gender and technology, from gendered expectations that have shaped our experiences with technology to gendered expectations in the workplace. As we see greater involvement from women of color, we add challenges to expectations based on race, ethnicity, or nationality to that mix. Moreover, we model engagement with technologies for our students – and it’s very important for them to see women working with technology.

What advice would you give other women interested in working with technology?

As in many other fields, we often feel like we have to do everything  – know every technology, code in every language – to keep up with male colleagues. To some degree, women in technology do still have to “prove” themselves in ways men don’t necessarily have to, going back to the gendered expectations by which technology is encumbered. My advice is to keep on top of technologies but be realistic about how much can be mastered and how quickly. Yes, some of the expectations derive from those external, gendered expectations but some are also the result of imposter syndrome and our own worries or anxieties about our relationship to technology. Don’t let imposter syndrome become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

What do you like to do for fun when you’re not working?

Traveling off the beaten path, hiking, tennis.

Highlight a Woman: Roopika Risam