5 Things to know about Edublogs/WP and New Google Sites

Thinking about platforms for public-facing student work? Each has its own pros and cons, and there are several key factors to think about:

  1. What are the platform’s policies for how the data are stored, and what are the possibilities to export the work to another platform?
  2. How easy is it to work with a given platform (interface, navigability, collaborative functions)?
  3. Are there associated costs? Is the platform freemium, free in the educational context but paid after leaving the college?

To help students, staff, and faculty make their own decisions on what is right for them, I put together these handouts. One covers Edublogs, which is our college subscription for WordPress and the New Google Sites, which is available to everyone at Carleton via our institutional license.

Image of handout with 5 tips for using Edublogs. PDF download available on click.

image of handout with 5 tips for using New Google Sites. PDF download on click.

 

Demystifying communications for student workers

person types in collaborative Google Doc at conference table

My colleagues Sarah Calhoun, Austin Mason, and I are collaborating on creating 4 new undergraduate internship positions related to front end/back-end development for digital humanities and digital scholarship projects, accessibility and inclusive design, and digital ethics. The DHAs and AT student workers are fabulous, but their job roles are written so that they wear several hats: tech support, triaging reported problems with campus-supported technologies, in-class support, etc. At Carleton, internships are distinguished from student worker positions by their additional expectations of mentorship, professionalization opportunities, and engagement with relevant fields.

Since we’re envisioning these internships as project-oriented, I thought it useful to start to think through some of our expectations for communication both during the internship, but also during projects. It’s likely that the interns will be able to see projects through from start-to-finish, but it’s also likely that they’ll come into a project in-process to contribute to a specific aspect. And in the interest of being explicit about expectations and minimizing the perils of tacit knowledge, I wanted to outline a few preliminary draft guidelines I’ve come up with so far:

Tl;dr: be generous and respectful, always.

  • Communicate information generously: it is better to include too many people than too few. Unless directed otherwise, share information, documents, code, etc. with the entire team and all the internship supervisors. If you are emailing someone on behalf of a small group, include all of the group members names in the closing signature and cc everyone.
  • Address collaborators respectfully and thoughtfully. This includes things like asking for preferred pronouns, and using appropriate titles and names. When interacting with a faculty or staff member for the first time, listen for how they refer to themselves and use what they said. If you’re emailing someone for the first time, use their formal title (Dr., Prof.) if applicable. Which leads us to…
    • Email etiquette: generally, this rundown by Laura Portwood-Stacer covers a lot. In addition, try to keep your emails shorter rather than longer. 4-5 sentences max and try to include all relevant info upfront.
  • Credit your collaborators: be generous and acknowledge contributions from your collaborators. This can be everything from help talking through an idea to a recommendation about where to find a code snippet to a comment someone made in a meeting that stuck with you. This kind of work and support often goes underappreciated–everyone (hopefully) knows it’s important but it’s often forgotten or left unmentioned in favor of a finished product.
  • When dealing with collaborators and “clients,” be sure to show up to all meetings on time, do any follow-up work promptly, and be highly responsive and polite over email. Loop in all relevant people.
  • When things come up at the last minute (because they will!): sometimes you will need to call in a favor from a collaborator to help you get work done rapidly. When this happens, make sure to acknowledge that this is a favor you are asking, give them an easy out, and thank them profusely if they are able to help you.

This is a general outline that will live in some other form TBD. But for now, I’d appreciate and comments/feedback/additions you think would help demystify project communications for students working on collaborative projects!

**huge thanks to Sarah Calhoun for her insights and suggestions!

**cross-posted on Celeste’s site.

Reflections on #budsc16

view from airplane window of small white clouds

On October 26-28, I attended the Bucknell Digital Scholarship Conference with my colleagues Janet Russell and Sarah Calhoun. It was my first time attending that event, and I was struck by how well it was organized and how the size seemed just right to balance presentations and chances for informal conversations. As always, I was happy to see a mix of presenters, from undergraduates to tenured faculty to folks from libraries and technology areas.

Main takeaways:

1. I cannot overstate how thrilled I was that both keynote addresses were given by women of color. Tressie McMillan Cottom and Safiya Noble spoke compellingly about critical issues related to higher education, technology, and society that (in my opinion) are far more urgent than calls to “disrupt,” “break,” and “hack.”

2. I was reminded by Jim Egan and Patrick Rashleigh’s presentation about the power of collaborating in a common environment. Their story about how working together on data in Tableau, rather than jumping straight to d3 or something more hefty, showed the benefits of starting with small tech to build trust in the collaboration.

audio synthesizer sits on table next to monitor showing digital project 3. Thrilled to see that the poster session allowed for digital presentations of work. It’s great to be able to see the digital projects in their native environments, and the conference provided a booklet of abstracts for each presentation that helped provide context. I do wish there were signs or some other visual identification for each project/table, but I enjoyed wandering from end to end hearing and seeing snippets of conversation.

Taken altogether, it was an enjoyable experience and I look forward to next year’s conference!