An Ode to Profhacker

Next week’s the start of a new academic term here at the University of Calgary, when students start to fill the campus’s empty halls and study spaces. The air has a mix of excitement and anxiety — common when people transition into a new environment, whether those people are first-year Arts students or their faculty grappling with our new learning management system.

A new term also means a new compilation of posts from Profhacker, the Chronicle of Higher Education‘s blog where smart professors read about subjects from teaching technology to life-work balance. Some of its posts have decisively transformed the way I teach, from grading participation to using social media as a method to capture intellectual currents like student questions. (That last post was one I wrote myself, in an effort to give back to the community that shaped my work.) Many of their posts focus on the ways technology is changing teaching and learning, like using tools for collaborative note-taking or grading blog assignments. They used to do a big compilation of readings and provocations every so often called the Teaching Carnival, but it ended in 2012 (or so). And with lively conversations in the comments field after every post, Profhacker’s clearly at the centre of an engaged teaching community.

In short, it’s everything an imaginative community should be: open to experimentation, critical about technology while enthusiastic about its effects, and consistently exposing its readers to new ideas. Happy new academic year, Profhacker. May the muses, and new readers, ever be with you.

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