Apps To Meet Your Goals

The New York Times has an article "Resolve to Pay Attention to Resolution Reminders," written by Kit Eaton that showcases a few Android and IOS apps to help you meet…

Read more about the article Open Thread: Balancing Work & Holidays
Contrary to popular belief, most professors spend their time preparing lectures, grading, and doing research, all while sending a litany of emails. Photo:

Open Thread: Balancing Work & Holidays

Holiday breaks: so much promise, so much disappointment. Today's post is about expectation setting and finding balance.


Quit Wasting Paper; Submit to Submittable

submittable logo

If you’re a writer and submit to literary magazines, chances are you’ve heard of Submittable. Submittable, formerly known as Submishmash, is a cloud-based submission management system that takes the pain out of the process. Created in 2010 by “novelist Michael FitzGerald, filmmaker Bruce Tribbensee, and musician John Brownell,” Submittable saves publishers both time and money.

For Writers, Publishers, and Businesses

I’ve used Submittable both as a writer and to manage submissions for my magazine, Scintilla. From a writer’s perspective, it beats printing out a manuscript, including a self-addressed stamped envelope, and swinging by the post office. The submission process can be a barrier. And, there’s something about that old process which makes it even harder for a new writer. It’s more of an act, a long series of moments where your doubts may consume you. Besides, no one likes dealing with printers and buying ink cartridges. Submittable also allows writers to see the status of their submissions to any publication that uses the service.

Publishers can quickly brand their instance of Submittable and set up separate workflows for types of submissions. Poems can be funneled to the poetry editor, fiction to the fiction editor and so on. Images and video can also be submitted. Even better, there’s a WordPress plugin so you can tie submittable directly into your WordPress site. You can check out an example at Scintilla Press.



Office Hours Made Simple: Google Appointments, Email Links, and QR Codes

UPDATE: Soon after publishing this post, I discovered that Google will suspend its Google Appointments function as of January 4, 2013. For a review of alternatives, see this post from Heather Whitney at ProfHacker. I will be replacing Google Appointments with YouCanBook.Me. For a helpful review of YouCanBook.Me, complete with instructions for setting it up for office hour appointments, see this post by Jack Dougherty.

Until this past semester, one of the biggest time wasters in my life as a college professor has been scheduling office hours with students. Like most professors, in the past I’ve had a few specific office hours every week, say on Mondays and Wednesdays from 2:00-4:00. Inevitability, I would have students who couldn’t meet during my office hours, and so would begin the back-and-forth dance of scheduling an office appointment. “How about Tuesday at 11:00?” “I have class then.” “Monday at 9:00?” “I have a meeting.” “Friday at 5:00?” “I have a life (or at least would like to).”

This past semester, I finally implemented a system that (mostly) solves the problem. I have begun using Google Appointments, synced to my Google Calendar, which in turn is synced to the Outlook calendar used by institution. I include a link to my Google Appointments on my Moodle site, on my electronic syllabus, and in my email signature, so any student can access my available appointments and claim an appointment time without ever having to email me. In addition, I include a QR code linked to my Google Appointments on my paper syllabus and on my office door so students can make appointments from their smartphones, as well.



Work Smarter With Trello

I've spent a lot of time looking for low cost (okay, free) software for managing projects in both my professional and personal life. These projects range from digital library collections,…


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