Personal Websites and Academic Social Networks: Why? How?

People think that I’m a pretty tech savvy person. So I get a lot of questions about how to make personal websites and how to use academic social networks. In this blog post I will finally answer these questions in one place. First, I’ll go over the evidence about the unique value that academic social networks and personal websites can provide. And then I’ll show you how to make a website in under 10 minutes.

So when you finish this blog post, you should not only be able to make a decision about making an academic social profile and about making a website. You should also be able to make a website in a jiffy!

1.  Why?

There are lots of reasons why researchers will want to use (i) academic social networks (ASNs) and (ii) personal websites. It all comes down to making our research visible, accessible, and followable. But there are lots of things to say about how this works and what your options are. Here are some slides to help you understand the process and make a decision.

 

If you want to view, download, or share just the slideshow, then follow the bolded links directly below the slideshow.

2.  How?

Here’s a video about how to make a personal website …in just 9 minutes. No coding necessary! Just drag, drop, and type! Super easy! And free!

All you need is a computer, a Google account (e.g., Gmail), and either Google Chrome or Firefox.

Have questions? I am happy to help by answering questions below. But if you want an immediate answer, check out Google’s help page.

Questions?

If you’ve got questions, write them below. I’ll get back to you ASAP. Happy website making and academic social networking! And, of course, feel free to share this with people who might be interested.

 

Classroom Poster Sessions: A win for you and your students

Last week, the Free Will & Science course finished up their poster sessions. It was one of the most enriching classroom experiences I’ve ever witnessed.† In case you’re interested, here’s a post about the why and how of classroom poster sessions — including templates for your own classroom. Continue reading Classroom Poster Sessions: A win for you and your students

PDF Documents and Footnotes Decrease the Accessibility of Research

Once upon a time, I loved footnotes and PDF documents. Now I don’t. I prefer eBook format and endnotes. I admit that footnotes are handy sometimes. For example, when I read visually, it’s nice to have the notes on the same page as the body text. However, footnotes are not so handy for auditory reading. Neither are PDF documents. For instance, footnotes wreak havoc on auditory reading. They interrupt the audio stream of the main body of text — sometimes mid-sentence. And since many people have to rely on auditory reading to consume academic research, this means that PDF documents and footnotes decrease the accessibility of research.

1.  Books vs. Articles

Sometimes academic books are available in an eBook version that is amenable to auditory reading — e.g., Amazon’s Kindle format and Apple’s iBook format. And some academic books have a proper audiobook version — e..g, Amazon’s audiobooks. This is great, but… Continue reading PDF Documents and Footnotes Decrease the Accessibility of Research

Research Questions & Mental Shortcuts: A Warning

Daniel Kahneman talks extensively about how we make reasoning errors because we tend to use mental shortcuts. One mental shortcut is ‘substitution‘. Substitution is what we do when we (often unconsciously) answer an easier question than the one being asked. I find that I sometimes do this in my own research. For instance, when I set out to answer the question, “How can X be rational?” I sometimes end up answering easier questions like, “How does X work?”. In an effort to avoid such mistakes, I will (1) explain the question substitution error, (2) give an example of how we can distinguish between questions, (3) give a personal example of the substitution error, and (4) say what we can do about it.

1.  Substitution

In case you’re not familiar with Kahnemen’s notion of ‘substitution’, here is some clarification. In short, substitution is this: responding to a difficult question by (often unintentionally) answering a different, easier question. People use this mental shortcut all the time. Here are some everyday instances:

Difficult Question Easier Question
How satisfied are you with your life? What is my mood right now?
Should I believe what my parents believe? Can I believe what my parents believe?
What are the merits/demerits of that woman who is running for president? What do I remember people in my community saying about that woman?

For further discussion of mental shortcuts and substitution, see Part 1 of Kahneman’s Thinking Fast and Slow (2012).

Now, how does this mental shortcut apply to research?  Continue reading Research Questions & Mental Shortcuts: A Warning

Grading Shorthand: Quick, Consistent, and Constructive Feedback

Grading with shorthand allows me to grade papers quickly. This is great for me, of course, but —more importantly — it’s great for students. Using grading shorthand means that students get prompt, consistent, and constructive feedback.

I’ve included the key to my grading shorthand below. I’ve also included the printer-friendly, PDF version of the key that I give to students.  Continue reading Grading Shorthand: Quick, Consistent, and Constructive Feedback

Whiteboards & Visual Brainstorming

A whiteboard is pretty versatile. It can be used many times for many purposes. I use it during meetings and while working alone. In this post, I’ll explain how I use a whiteboard for creating visual aids.

1. Visual Brainstorming

I am very committed to the digital workspace. My library, papers, notes, handouts, etc. are in the cloud (more about that in this post). I do all of my reading and writing on a computer or a smartphone. But very occasionally a physical workspace trumps my digital workspace.

Visual brainstorming is one task for which a physical workspace outshines the digital counterpart. Visual brainstorming is Continue reading Whiteboards & Visual Brainstorming

Monitoring for Bias in Education: What Does That Mean?

“I would use the Department of Education … to monitor our institutions of higher education for extreme political bias and deny federal funding if it exists.”

Ben Carson

1. Everyone has biases, political and otherwise.

So denying funding on the basis of any political bias would be tantamount to denying all federal education funding. That’d be problematic. So — if we assume a charitable interpretation of Carson — that’s surely not the Republican plan (…or is it?). So let’s assume that Carson is not out to defund any educational institution that exhibits just any political bias.

Instead, maybe Carson’s plan is to monitor for particular biases. The idea here would be that only institutions with certain biases should be defunded. But even that would be problematic. After all, Carson is a human. And humans are more likely to notice and take issue with others’ biases (Corner et al 2012; Lord et al 1979) or biases that merely seem like others’ biases (Trouche et al 2015). So Carson might be more attuned to and dismissive of others’ biases than his own. And that is itself a political bias.

To overcome that bias, we would need to make sure that Continue reading Monitoring for Bias in Education: What Does That Mean?